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Hunt plans new breeding programme

ONE of the UK’s best known hunting packs is restarting its breeding programme. The Blencathra hunt in Cumbria, whose hound breeding lines date back to John Peel, claimed that hunting to a drag last season had enabled them to continue meeting while staying within the law. Barry Todhunter, huntsman of the Blencathra, whose kennels are based at Threlkeld, said: “I didn’t breed any pups last year because of the uncertainty. We knew a ban was imminent and we just bided our time to see how things worked out.”

Mr Todhunter, who has just spent his 33rd season with the Blencathra, was speaking at the annual Threlkeld Sheepdog Trials and hound and terrier show on recently: “It was doom and gloom and no-one knew whether you would have a job or a house or whether the pack would survive. But now we have operated for a full season within the law. I have started the breeding programme again and we have some six-month-old hounds.”

Mr Todhunter said hunts were still hoping that the law banning hunting with hounds would eventually be repealed.

Mr Todhunter said the ban had proved counter-productive and had not saved any more foxes. “It has increased their demise,” he said.

Five fell packs plus hounds took part in Wednesday’s show. The overall champion was the Coniston bitch Rainbow, shown by Geoff Freeman from Millom.

In the Blencathra Hunt Show, the Tatters trophy went to three-year-old Solo, a home-bred traditional black, white and tan Blencathra hound, shown by Daniel Ewart of Westward. Solo’s litter brother, Stormboy, which was reserve in the open section, was reserve in the Blencathra classes, shown by Malcolm Stevens. Best walked hound was four-year-old Tarquin, shown by Mary Peel.

To make up for the lack of pups this year, a veterans’ class was held and this was won by Ullswater Lilter.