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Fox gives RDS the brush-off

Ireland's equestrian prowess has been showcased magnificently at the RDS, with some of the best riders and horses in the country having performed for the crowds.

And of course the show has once again been used by the country's fox hunts to glamurise their delightful sport.

Riders dressed up in immaculate Tally-ho outfits went through their paces, and packs of hounds were displayed proudly, in a sanitised re-enactment of a hunting scene.

It made foxhunting look so pretty and harmless. . . fun for all the family.

But there was something missing: okay, you had the hunts people in their colourful costumes, the sturdy horses in top form, and the hounds with their tails wagging happily.

The notable absentee from this supposed replication of hunting skills and pageantry was the humble fox.

He was nowhere to be seen at the RDS.

While playing a central role in a typical day's hunting in the countryside, An Madra Rua failed to put in an appearance on the very day when thousands of TV viewers could have seen for themselves how he gets such a thrill out of being chased by hounds, and how being caught and savaged by them doesn't bother him a bit, as we know from the Hunting Association of Ireland.

The fox hunters lost a golden opportunity to win over all those ignorant folk who believe hunting is cruel, or unfair, to the fox.

What a pity he was so damn conspicuous by his absence. We could have watched from our sitting rooms or bar stools as the hunters displayed that characteristic affection for Ireland's wildlife that they claim is at the heart of the whole field sport ethos.

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JOHN FITZGERALD

CALLAN, CO KILKENNY


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