It seemed almost a cunning plan. One worthy of a fox who has just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. With little ado, members of the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt appeared through the Landgate on Tuesday morning, resplendent in their hunting pink, mounted on shining horses with gleaming tack. Without fanfare, they trotted through the High Street to their meet in the courtyard at the Mermaid Inn. Whispered comments of delight and amused surprise ushered from pedestrians as they trotted by, and a crowd gathered as more than 20 mounted and numerous foot followers enjoyed the hospitality proffered by hosts Martin and Judith Blincow.
While the benevolent winter sun brought a smile to the faces of all there, the complete absence of anti-hunt campaigners signified that the plan for a low-profile meet in Rye town centre was a success. Joint Master Nigel Hacking, nursing those three hunting essentials – a crop, a sausage roll and a whisky mac, thanked their hosts for a splendid meet, the first at the Mermaid for two years. “Martin and I have been friends for over 30 years” he announced. “We went to school together, we’ve played cricket together, and it was through cricket that we discussed plans for a regular meet at the Mermaid, something that I’m pleased to say, has continued throughout my Mastership”.
Former jockey Paul Hacking, brother of the Master, sat contentedly munching a sausage roll aboard his ex-racehorse Tigre D’Avon, once a stable regular of leading National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls, while Huntsman Gerald Sumner and Whipper-In Ben Roberts held fifteen and half ‘couple’ of hounds quietly in the corner of the courtyard (hounds are always counted in pairs). Even Val Sheehan, a leading producer of show horses and a joint master with the neighbouring East Kent Hunt, had a smile on his face. “It’s marvellous to see so many friendly people attending a meet,” he said. Despite taking up ‘trail laying’ since the passing of the Hunting Act in 2004, Masters and hunt followers have encountered some controversial times across the country, but on Tuesday morning the hounds and horses of the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt made a quite spectacular, colourful and welcome return to the streets of Rye.
[Editor’s note: Rye News respects opinions both for and against hunting, but in anticipation of comments from those opposed to the hunt, this is a DRAG hunt, no laws are being broken and no foxes were hurt during the course of it.]
Earlier a member of the Rye News team spotted this:
Its not everyday you get the chance to witness a rare animal in the town centre, this one was spotted ‘parked up’ in the market carpark. Eight legs, two tails and one head, is it coming or going, forwards or backwards, “to me to you”? It makes you chuckle.
Image Credits: Chris Lawson , Nick Forman .