BUMPER crowds are expected to once again brave the winter cold and New Year hangover to support a traditional hunt through the East Staffordshire countryside.
The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt is returning to Uttoxeter on New Years Day for its fourth year running and residents are urged to go out and show their support for the riders.
The riders will meet in the Market Place, near to the war memorial, from 11am on New Years Day with many of those taking part parking at Uttoxeter Racecourse, in Wood Lane.
This will be the second festive hunt as the riders also met in Blithfield yesterday for the Boxing Day hunt.
Rachel Morley, joint secretary of the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt, said the event usually attracts a large crowd of spectators into the town.
She told the Post and Times: “This is the fourth time we have met in Uttoxeter although I am informed we did used to do the hunt here around 60 odd years ago.
“Last year we had 60 to 70 horses and ponies turn out for the hunt and hope for around the same again this year.
“Once they have all met up they trot through Uttoxeter and go out and around the edge of the town across towards Chartley and Marchington before heading back to Uttoxeter.
“It is weather permitting but I’m sure they will still hold it if it is cold and frosty.
“The hunt is all part of our history and it is a great tradition that everyone wishes to carry on. The children and pony club come along each year and we always welcome new people every year.
“Everyone is always very welcoming as it is all part of this tradition. Everyone always has a lovely day.”
Last year around 400 people gathered to see off the riders taking part in the New Year tradition.
The Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt set off with 50 mounted huntsmen and women and their hounds from Uttoxeter’s Market Square, covering around 15 miles in two and a half hours before returning to the town.
Due to the ban on hunting with hounds, the dogs must follow a pre-laid scent line to replicate hunting foxes, but master of the hunt Richard Parrott said at the time he was hopeful the legislation would be overturned.
He said: “We’ve had to adapt because of the ban but obviously we still believe hunting is the most efficient way of controlling the fox population and we would like to see it reintroduced.
“We’ve had a very positive response from everyone and we’re lucky in that we’ve had a lovely, sunny day.”