Dog day raises lots of dosh

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Terrier racing at a past Rye Country Show

Cars coming and going kept the horses and dogs apart, while pedestrians arrived in Rye community bus’s last outing (see story below), Lancaster bombers flew overhead, hounds and heavy horses paraded, and dogs raced a Grand National (report here) – and all (or nearly all) in aid of Rye Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital, run by a charity but with NHS services.

The Red Arrows and the Lancasters flew over Rye’s country show, but of course their destination was not Rye, but actually Eastbourne’s Air Show. On the ground, however, the food queues grew longer and longer, and the only thing missing was sheep. But this was a show more for those who watch the BBC’s Countryfile rather than those who appear on it, and around 2,000 attended and some £8,000 was raised for the hospital.

The horses appeared in three rings, had lots of horse boxes; and whips and spurs were banned in the gymkhana event. Some of it was serious business and, for example, the Oliver Worthington Memorial Shield was for the highest placed horse to have been regularly hunted with the East Sussex and Romney Marsh Hunt during the 2013/14 season.

The classic cars were serious business, too, with more than 100 entries ranging from a 1924 Morris Cowley to a 1999 Aston Martin, with a 1928 Bentley (the winner), a 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom and a 1970 VW Camper in between.

The horse show did include classes for the “Prettiest Pony” and “Leading rein – 8 years and under” so some of the immaculately dressed competitors were quite small – as were their ponies. East Sussex County Council leader Keith Glazier and his wife sponsored the Riverdale Challenge Cup for the Fancy Dress class.

Crossing the car track to the other side of the showground – and going to the dogs – Lord Ampthill was judging the Fancy Dress and Rye Mayor Bernardine Fiddimore was judging a number of classes including “Scruffiest dog” and “Prettiest Bitch”. The display ring featured gun dogs, the parade of hounds and heavy horses before the dog Grand National. Alongside, the terrier racing was very popular.

This featured heats of four terriers chasing a furry tail being pulled along by a piece of string attached to a bicycle wheel hidden behind some straw bales. Cue for chaos. Terriers over-excited. Spectating dogs over-excited as furry tail flashes past. Owners over-excited. All whipped into place. Wisely, the  show programme had warned “dogs can sometimes be unpredictable”. However, the request to keep dogs on a lead at all times failed miserably during the Grand National.

Surrounding stalls included a blacksmith hammering away; some ominously still birds of prey on the falconry exhibit; shire horses; delicious cakes, somewhat quicker to obtain and eat than hot food; a band – the Sussex Stompers; handmade furniture; and last, but not least, a popular Pimm’s bar near the raffle ticket tent.

Below, scenes from the Lea Barn Farm ground. Photos: Jane Nunn