HUNDREDS of people gathered at the Tredegar Arms in Bassaleg today, for the annual Tredegar Farmer’s Boxing Day hunt.

Around 400 supporters, friends and family, packed out the pub’s car park and the road outside and enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies before seeing the hunt off.

Just after 11am, the riders and hounds set off for a trail hunt, following a scent which had been laid down earlier.

It was Howard Jones 45th season as Master of the Hunt. He first joined the Tredegar hunt in 1947. He said: “There’s a good crowd of people here, but I hope to get a good few horses going on the hunt.”

There were around 28 hounds, most of which were bred by Mr Jones.

“All the smooth-coated are English hounds – and I breed those,” Mr Jones explained. “The speckled hound is the last of the line of a very special hound that was in the New Forest hunt.”

Mr Jones’ wife, June, who sadly died on Christmas Eve, had joined him as Master for four years.

“She would have loved this,” he said.

Andrew Thomas had ridden down from Penylan for the meet. The 22-year-old has been hunting for around three years and taken part in the Boxing Day hunt before.

“It’s very traditional and there’s always a good community vibe,” he said. “We’ve got the weather today too.”

Mr Thomas said in terms of horses the turnout was lower than previous years. In total, there were 21 riders who followed the Master of the hounds up Caerphilly Road.

He said: “We’ll be following the trial up. It’s all local, so we know our way around.”

The riders were met by hundreds more people out on the road, lining both sides of the pavement.

Hunting foxes was banned in 2004 as a result of the Hunting Act. Hunts now carry out a drag hunt where a scented item is dragged for the hounds.