HUNDREDS turned out for the annual Boxing Day meet by Heythrop Hunt in Chipping Norton yesterday.

The tradition marked its 189th year, with about 200 horseriders and 36 hounds parading through Market Place before departing for the hunt at 11am.

Secretary of the hunt for 23 years and rider Guy Avis, 67, said: “It’s so hard to gauge how many people are here today. It’s lovely to see so many people coming out to a traditional part of the English countryside.”

Charlie Brooks, horseracing trainer and husband of former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, said: “I come to the hunt every year, it’s a Christmas tradition.”

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The 51-year-old, who was cleared of perverting the course of justice in the phone-hacking trial in June, said the Brooks family had a wonderful Christmas. He added: “It’s the first Christmas that our daughter will be able to remember, it’s been lovely and it’s lovely to be at the hunt.”

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  • Charlie Brooks

Mrs Brooks and their daughter were not at the hunt.

Andrew Goffe, 27, watched with his two-year-old daughter Iris.

The farmer, from Kidlington, said: “There’s a misconception that hunting is classist, but it certainly isn’t. The hunt encompasses all parts of country life and all members of the community. People from all walks of life can enjoy it.”

Land agent Paddy Hoare, 42, who has previously joined the hunt, watched the 200 riders depart with his wife Iona, daughters Iris, one, Martha, six, and son George, three.

The Great Rollright resident said: “It’s Boxing Day and we’ve got the kids with us so I couldn’t ride today.”

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