Spectators cheer as hunt riders trot out

Thousands of people across Shropshire and Mid Wales turned out in their droves to witness traditional Boxing Day hunts.

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Thousands of people across Shropshire and Mid Wales turned out in their droves to witness traditional Boxing Day hunts.

Cheering spectators lined the streets as riders in their familiar red jackets took part in the annual spectacle. The hunts took place in the aftermath of comments from Agriculture

Minister Jim Paice who claimed that the Hunting Act, which banned hunting foxes with hounds, ‘simply doesn’t work’.

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Mr Paice said: “I personally am in favour of hunting with dogs – and the coalition agreement clearly states that we will have a free vote on whether to repeal the act when there is time in the parliamentary calendar to do so.”

In Newport, 3,000 people in St Mary’s Street watched as 70 horses and 27 hounds from the Albrighton Hunt headed toward Chetwynd.

Last year, hunts across the county were marred by icy weather that prevented horses from taking part.

Hunt chairman Judith Swinnerton said: “These are perfect conditions. Last year it was unsafe, so today we are taking full advantage of the unusually mild temperatures.

“We have a fantastic turnout and it’s great that people can watch in pleasant conditions.”

The event was followed by the British Driving Society’s Newport area section carriage parade.

Stephen Bradley huntsman for the Mid Wales, David Davies Hunt, said the people of Llanidloes always turned out in force for the Boxing Day hunt.

Hundreds also turned out as usual for the annual Ludlow hunt leaving from Ludlow Castle.

In Shrewsbury, the North Shropshire Hunt left from the Albrighton Hall Hotel.

Hunt master Will Warner said: “We are looking forward to a massive turnout of between 300 to 400 people.

“It’s a great way to thank the farmers for allowing the hunt across their land.

“Last year was very, very difficult because of the frosty weather. This year we will be in traditional hunting dress and try to be as traditional as possible. We all hope the law can be improved to allow the control of foxes but for the meantime the hounds will be following a scent.”

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