THOUSANDS of people went along to support fox hunts across the country on the most important day in the fox hunting calendar.
This year the Hursley Hambledon Hunt, which meets at Meonstoke, attracted 40 riders and scores of onlookers.
Hunt secretary Rosamond Masterman said: ‘The day went extremely well. I have been coming to this hunt for many years but I have never seen so many people following. It was absolutely wonderful.’
According to the Countryside Alliance, hunts across England and Wales welcomed more than a quarter of a million people, on foot and on horseback on Boxing Day.
The alliance is calling on the government to revisit the Hunting Act 2004, which banned the hunting of wild mammals – notably foxes, deer, hares and mink – with dogs in England and Wales.
The alliance says the bumper turn-out to this year’s events shows support for the ancient tradition.
Mrs Masterman said: ‘(Prime Minister David) Cameron said he would give time to it, so we will wait and see.
‘Just from the crowds all over the country, it was amazing to see such support.’
Capt Ian Farquhar, joint master of the Duke of Beaufort’s hunt, which attracted around 3,000 people, said: ‘Once again we were delighted by the tremendous support from the thousands of people who turned out to show their support for the hounds and horses and to support the farmers who are the backbone of the countryside.
‘We met in the hope that common sense will prevail.’