The Lycetts Festival of Hunting, held on the East of England Showground at Peterborough on Wednesday, 17 July, is the hunting world’s summer jamboree. Here’s why we wouldn’t miss it for the world.
1. It really does showcase that glorious animal, the hound. The showing classes for modern and old English foxhounds, harriers, beagles, bassets, bloodhounds and draghounds are the most competitive of the year. Hundreds of years of very careful breeding have resulted in the excellent examples of each type that you will see at Peterborough. There are also displays of coursing dogs and fellhounds.
2. If you “hunt to ride” rather than “ride to hunt”, there are all sorts of equine showing classes for ridden hunters, working hunters and working hunter ponies and coloured horses and ponies. And the Honri Hats-sponsored inter-hunt relay is great fun to watch, with gangs of spectators hollering their own hunt teams on.
3. The shopping is great. You can purchase pretty much anything you might need in the sporting line, plus jewellery, art, sculpture, clothes, food, booze, presents… Take your credit card – who doesn’t need a new pair of breeches, a rare “Snaffles” print, or a large bottle of home-made sloe gin?
4. The packs that are showing tend to hold individual picnics, which are uproarious and can get very lavish. Coronation chicken is almost compulsory. Cadge yourself an invitation – or wander around until you spot someone you know and smile at them. They’re bound to ask you over for a drink. Of course, for the picnic-less, there is masses of very good food and drink you can buy!
5. Lycetts sponsor a seriously good drinks party after the judging has finished, at which a horn-blowing competition takes place.
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6. There are new classes this year for young handlers, aimed at 12-16-year-olds who help their local packs. Go to Ring One at 3pm to watch the huntsmen, masters and whippers-in in of the future.
7. It’s gossip central. This is where you’ll learn what’s going on in the hunting world, so keep your ears and eyes open!
Tickets can be bought at the gate or online in advance: www.festivalofhunting.com
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.