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Hunt rides into town

By Peter Harris


Despite the rain, more than 1,000 people greeted the South Notts Hunt on Tuesday when membersreturned to Newark Market Place for the second consecutive year for their New Year’s Day meet.

After a 20-year ban, the hunt was allowed to return last year after lengthy debate among members of Newark and Sherwood District Council, whichowns the Market Place, and the town council, which issues the invitation.

The ban was imposed by the then Labour-controlled district council. Since then the hunt has used other sites for the meet, mostly at East Stoke and Elston.

On Tuesday, the 30 riders rode from the Livestock Market, along Beastmarket Hill and into the Market Place.

They were led by the joint master, Mr David Manning, along with hunting master Mr John Dandy and whipper-in Mr Boyd Cross. The other joint masters were Mr Paul Crabtree and Mrs Kate Beaumont.

Barriers were put around a third of the Market Place in front of the Town Hall where the riders and hounds met.

With them was Mrs Fran Selby, of Skillington, who brought along a European eagle owl that she takes on some of the meets.

It is still legal to use a bird of prey on a hunt.

The crowd were six deep in places and people jostled to see.

The riders spent 20 minutes in the Market Place where they were offered a stirrup cup by the Mayor of Newark, Mr Bryan Richardson.

Mr Cross said: “It’s lovely to ride into the cobbled Market Place and see so many people waiting to greet you.”

The hunt left just before mid-day via Bridge Street and Cartergate to ride in the Hawton area for about 31/2 hours.

They followed a pre-laid trail using a scent with a skunk-base, imported from the USA.

Mr Dandy said the substance was mixed with cooking oil andput on to the front rubber boots of a horse, which was sent out with another horse and rider, in case of a fall, to lay the trail.

Retired teacher Mr Philip Smith (71) of Main Street, Balderton, was among the spectators.

He could remember bringing his children to the Market Place when they were young to see the meet, and said it was a Newark tradition worth preserving.

Last week the Grove and Rufford Hunt abandoned plans to meet in Retford Market Place because they were toldit would cost them £2,000 to have police present.

The South Notts Hunt did not face this problem, as the police were happy for the hunt to provide their own stewards.

Newark’s police chief, Chief Inspector Mark Holland, saidthere were marked differences in the cases.

Hunt saboteurs gatecrashed a hunt meet in Retford in November, but there had been no problems to date affecting the South Notts Hunt in Newark and Sherwood.

He said the South Notts Hunt New Year meet was well organised and was happening for the second year, whereas the Retford one was planned for the first time.

“The Newark meet has the backing of the town council and the highways people have been made aware,” he said.

“It was well organised last year. The stewards were very professional and in high-visibility jackets. I have seen the risk assessment they have produced and I am happy with that.”

The ashes of the former secretary of the South Notts Hunt, Miss Anne Jepson, will be scattered across some of her favourite hunting grounds when the season ends in March.

Miss Jepson, of Hoveringham, died last year.

Hunt members will gather on March 6, at Alderwasley, Derbyshire, one of her favourite areas.

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