WHEN the Cheshire Forest Hunt's Boxing Day Meet this year attracted a turnout of 50 riders, and the Mid Cheshire Farmers' Drag Hunt attracted 140 riders, what is the common sense' in demanding a repeal of the Hunting Set?

The registered drag hunts achieve a challenging ride across varied country, all the traditional spectacle of the Boxing Day Meet, and a full social life, and modern synthetic chemistry should develop more convincing scents that hounds will pursue on a predetermined line. Trail Hunting' haphazardly strewing fox body fluid around is not the same, and when hounds are conditioned to go after foxes detected by scent, follow actual fox secretions (drag hunts traditionally use at least partly aniseed lines) around fox haunts, and encounter foxes turning up' with no apparent effort to call off any hound attempting to give chase, serious developments are bound to occur. The Cheshire Forest Hunt are well aware of the A50 dominating their area, but in the past 20 years have repeatedly created dangerous situations on that road, and on the Manchester - London railway line where hounds have collided with high speed trains.

Last February, a report on this Hunt in Horse and Hound' revealed that, during a trail hunt', they again crossed the A50, drew' at a wood picking up a trail', and again picked up a trail' around Baden Hall with a very passable impression of going to ground', and drew' another wood where a fox shot away' when hounds were sent in. This begs questions of what the huntsmen really intended - drag hounds instantly flash on' with no need to draw' - and in an area with a lot of smallholdings and hobby farms', accidental hunting' is inevitably disruptive. Post mortem examination of foxes killed by this pack in 2001-2 showed severe deep wounds and tears in the abdomen and flank with organs pulled out and clear signs of struggle - when our law functions to protect animals from gratuitous infliction of suffering for sport, is the ban on live animal hunting "against common sense?"

Twenty-one convictions under the Hunting Act, with the latest case involving trail hunting' and ending in the offenders pleading guilty, should clearly indicate that the ban is working. The thriving North West League Against Cruel Sports Support Group shows that the people of Cheshire are on the side of the hunted animal, and the pro-hunt minority must move with the times.

Katherine Watson Rushton Drive Bramhall Cheshire