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What can trail hunting learn from the Grand National?

Ensuring hunting has a long-term and sustainable future is one of the aims of the Countryside Alliance, and much can be learnt from last Saturday’s Grand National which has had to adapt to survive.

There can be no doubt that the reduced number of runners, the shortened distance from the start to the first fence and the many changes that have happened to the fences over the years have made the race safer and more palatable to the public, thus enabling the world’s most famous race to retain its social licence.

Racing analyst, Kevin Blake, summed it up well in his recent column for At The Races: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion as to which version of the race they prefer and there are no wrong answers to that question… Whether or not the modern version of the race floats your boat, in its current form the Grand National has a sustainable future as the mainstream shop window for National Hunt racing. The importance of that trumps every other consideration in this discussion.”

The same could be said for trail hunting; we all know trail hunting is not the same as traditional hunting with hounds and it doesn’t suit everybody’s tastes, but by adapting our methods, our hunts have been able to retain their infrastructure while protecting the future for hounds and hunt staff. Hounds can still meet at 11am and hunt supporters can continue to organise skittles evenings, hunt balls and other events which bind the community together.

In an ever-changing modern world where those who don’t necessarily understand the countryside want to influence our way of life by banning trail-hunting, we encourage hunts to make the most of the shop window and protect our packs of hounds for future generations to enjoy. The Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, recently announced during an interview with The Times that Labour would implement a full ban on trail hunting and drag hunting in the first term of a Labour government.

If we want to continue to follow hounds, we all need to take responsibility by promoting a positive image of trail hunting and other lawful hunting activities. The future really is down to us and the time to take action is now.

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