Big turnout at Melton New Year hunt meet

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More than 50 riders took part in the traditional New Year hunt meet in Melton on Monday.

It was the turn of Cottesmore Hunt this year to gather in Play Close.

Big crowds watched members and their hounds prepare before setting out for a hunt in Burton Lazars.

Refreshments were served courtesy of Melton Mowbray Town Estate.

Senior Townwarden Dinah Hickling offered drinks to joint-master of the hunt, Andrew Osborne and his colleagues.

Clare Bell, secretary of the Cottesmore Hunt, said: “We had a fantastic turnout of townsfolk on Monday.

“There was a lovely reception for us from the senior townwarden and the people of Melton.

“On the day we had 53 horsemen and women riding with the hunt and a good number of followers on foot.

“We come to Melton every three years because we share it with the Belvoir and the Quorn and once again it was a lovely event for us.”

Mrs Bell declined to comment on speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May is to lobby to repeal the ban on hunting foxes with dogs.

It has been mooted that a free vote might be held in Parliament on the issue.

The ban came in almost 12 years ago but hunting has continued, mainly in in the form of drag hunts, where hounds follow an artificial scent.

The Cottesmore, which has kennels near Oakham, has been hunting in this area since 1666.

The first hunt of the year in Melton is traditionally held on January 1 but it was moved forward a day this year to avoid meeting on a Sunday.