ALMOST 1,000 people turned out to see the annual Abergavenny Boxing Day Hunt take place today.

Around 70 riders and hounds gathered outside the Angel Hotel on Cross Street, Abergavenny, for the 11.30am start. The hunt was led by Matthew Hickmott, who has been huntsman since 2003, and saw a numer of riding clubs and equestrian centres take part.

The Monmouthshire Hunt, organised by the Abergavenny Hunt Committee, has been taking place since the 1700s.

Just under a thousand people lined the streets of the town to watch the hunt gather.

Among those on horseback was little Phoenix-Phiél Parry, two , from Abergavenny on her pony Ellie, at her first ever hunt.

Proud mum Myscha Dene, 24, who was leading Phoenix, said: “She’s here with Triley Fields Equestrian Centre. This is her first ever hunt, but I’ve always come along since I was a child, and taken part too, so it’s part of our family Christmas tradition really.

“It’s really nice to see so many people turning out to support the hunt.

“Phoenix first sat on a horse before her first birthday, and she’s started riding regularly in the past six months0 She loves it.”

She added: “There’s always a good turn out, but it’s nice to see so many here today, especially with the controversy surrounding the hunt.”

Among the spectators, Tiffany Morgan, 26, from Abergavenny, was there to see her younger sister take part in the hunt. She said “We always come along to see the hunt, it’s a bit of a family tradition.

“It’s extra special this year as my sister Chelsea is taking part. There’s a really good turn out this year, it’s nice to see.”

Chris Thomas, 46, from Abergavenny, was watching the hunt, now a drag hunt since the fox hunting ban, with her family fore the first time. She said: “We’ve never been down to watch the hunt before, but there’s a really nice atmosphere. I can’t believe how many people have turned out, and there’s a real family-friendly feeling. People have bought the children down to see the horses, it’s lovely.”