9 months ago



HUNTING BEDALE 13 January Kennel-huntsman Mikey Francis, who will take over as huntsman next season, walking out hounds before hunting ‘If you worry about the future of hunting, a visit to this part of North Yorkshire should allay your fears’ The next generation: a litter of hound puppies at the kennels that the “thruster” gene is present in the next generation. We piled on due east through Ian Carlisle’s farm towards Thornton Lodge and caught up with Tim. The hounds had checked and he was casting them in Ruswick Gill on the farm belonging to Thomas and Angie Fall, who was out with their daughter Kate. I chatted to the new hunt chairman and retired headmaster, Robert McKenzie Johnson, and we discovered we have a friend in common, Miranda Osborne. Minutes later, we saw Miranda standing outside her house waving as we trotted past. Susie Penrose, wife of joint-master Matthew Penrose, came up to introduce herself — she works at the family sawmill and has taken up hunting since meeting Matthew. Meanwhile, Tim had gathered his hounds and was taking them back through the farm buildings to hold them on to a nice grass farm called Thornton Lodge, where they hit the line off again and took us back across the lane, jumping off it this time, towards Marriforth where the trail had started. The roads in this area are not busy, but there were masses of car followers, most of whom seemed to be women in Frimble bobble hats. There had been a sense of anticipation all day about going back to Rookwith, where a steeplechase of several hedges were beckoning. Fortunately, when we got there, hounds found a couple of trails at the Pages’ Wild Duck Carr and they took one that headed south towards the River Ure, providing the opportunity everyone wanted for a bit more jumping. Johnnie Furness and his wife Grania were talking about going home, but when they saw everyone gathering in front of the first hedge, they thought better of it and headed over to join them. I’m afraid I had spotted an open gate, plus a couple of people down on the road, so I headed in that direction with a view of the field as they sailed over the hedges in Ed’s wake. There were still plenty of people out. Down on the road, I was greeted by Cherry booming, “Why aren’t you up there? Phoenix would have loved those hedges.” Master and farmer Matt Penrose appeared. Steven Tweddle looks neat over a decent set of rails “They’ve got to come back because we’re drawing this next,” he explained, “and we can’t go where they are heading.” Matt joined the mastership last season and is enjoying it, he says, but he couldn’t do it without his joint-master and landowner Robert Ropner (a cheerful character in a red coat out today) who does so much to keep the show on the road. Matt also reiterated the big part the Page family play in the success of the hunt. Nicky Morrison, former master of the Zetland, had also joined us when Tim and his hounds reappeared, having changed horses. “Come with me if you like, Tessa,” said Tim, as he hacked past, so I joined a gang that included kennel-huntsman Pictures by Peter Nixon 44 Horse & Hound 8 February 2018

Hon secretary Major Nick Thomas at the meet at Rookwith Farm Starting young: Chloe Page with her three-year-old son Max Mikey Francis, Holly Bourne- Arton, Siona Tomlinson and her daughter Jemima, Brian Robinson and his grandson Charlie. Tim put his hounds into Lindale Bog, encouraging them with a lovely tone to his voice, but it was soon obvious that there was no trail, so we moved on. BREEDING SUCCESS SIONA and Jemima were full of praise for the experience of being “up front” with Tim. They had bought the day as a lot in the hunt auction. Tim himself seemed philosophical about what had been a frustrating day. He is retiring at the end of the season and it is a massive shame to see another amateur huntsman fall by the wayside. “I’ve got to earn some money,” he says ruefully. Throughout the day, many people expressed their regret that Tim is going so soon, but they are all getting behind the next man, Tim’s kennel-huntsman Mikey Francis, who will take over next season. One of the things that Tim anticipates he will miss most is the breeding of the hounds. “I brought some hounds from Scotland, one of which, Lauderdale Anvil, I put to Middleton Golfer, which produced the winning dog and bitch at this year’s puppy show. The bitch Google went on to win reserve unentered championship at Harrogate. I used Tynedale and Middleton lines at the Lauderdale to great success and it’s only now [at the Bedale] that I’m starting to see a real type emerging from this strategy,” he said. From Lindale bog, we hacked past Aysgarth School and were greeted by a mob of boys waving frantically. Opposite the school, Joint-master Jo Lambert, who owns eventer Nicola Wilson’s European gold and bronze medallist Bulana Tim drew Newton Beck on his feet, handing his horse to Holly Bourne-Arton. Tim told me later that Holly is a great help on a hunting day — as you might expect of someone whose mother Daphne hunted hounds — although Holly modestly told me: “I’m just the one with the drinks and the fags.” Bedale people may not carry hunting whips but everyone carries a flask, there are a good number of smokers and the party vibe continues all day. Sadly, hounds were unable to pick up a trail on our forays on to Dalesend, home of the Ropners. Nor was there any sign of a trail at Grange Farm or Craikhall Beck. It was starting to get dark as we headed back to the lorries; apparently there was a party that night. “There’s a party every night,” volunteers a jolly man on his feet. “Except on Sunday when we all have a rest.” It wasn’t the greatest day’s hunting — apparently I should have gone last Saturday, which was fantastic — but they made the best of it. The Bedale country is not what it used to be (whose is?), but they are a friendly lot who go well and if you worry about the future of hunting, a visit to this part of North Yorkshire should allay your fears. H&H A modest Holly Bourne-Arton: ‘I’m just the one with the drinks and the fags’ 8 February 2018 Horse & Hound 45

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