The Mid Surrey Farmers’ Draghounds is one of the oldest drag hunts in the United Kingdom being founded in 1900, more than a century ago, when it was known as the Banstead Drag.
Covering a country from Hickstead in the west to Meopham in the East and the vale country between the North and South Downs, with particulary challenging jumping country in the vale country.
We meet on Saturdays throughout the season, which runs from October to March, with frequent mid week days throughout the first half of the season.
We are a very socialble hunt which welcomes and encourages new members, we try to keep numbers low as safety is of prime importance to us and we want people to enjoy coming out. Our days generally start with social meet either: at a pub or with a lawn meet, we move off between 1pm and 1:30pm depending on the time of the year and generally we are finished by 4pm then its wash off the horses and into tea to relax and discuss the days sport.
The Mid Surrey Farmers’ Draghounds is a member of the Master of Draghounds and Bloodhounds Association; if you are interested have a look through the site at the Gallery and give us a ring!
All photographs by kind permission of Ginni Beard.
Featured image by Louise Siggers.
19.05.38 – 17.04.20
Tribute paid to George Goring, “a true hotelier who exuded joie de vivre” in both his professional, and sporting private life, from Peter Webb, MSFD Chairman.
Tributes have been paid to George Goring, the third generation of the family to run the five star AA rated Goring Hotel in Belgravia, who has died at the age of 81.
He joined his father, OG Goring at the hotel in London in 1961, retiring in 2005, handing the reins to his son Jeremy. Paying tribute to his father, Jeremy said “George was a hotelier in the old school style : a true host who exuded joie de vivre, anyone who worked for him, or knew him in his private life, would know his extraordinary generosity, when dad is in the room, you know everyone is going to have a good time, and that pretty much set the tone for how we run the hotel”
After boarding school, where Masters struggled to tell George and twin brother Richard apart, George attended the Lausanne Hotel School in 1956, and worked in hotels throughout the world, in a variety of roles, kitchen, reception, and under-manager, and in the ensuing years joined many organisations, including the Westminster Hotel School, the International Hotel Association, the Hotel Training Board and Catering Institute, along with various tourism committees.
George was named Hotelier of the Year in 1990, and awarded an OBE “for services to the hotel industry” the same year, a unanimous recommendation by his peers. In 2010, he received the accolade Lifetime Achievement at the AA Hospitality Awards, recognising his pursuit of perfection.
Examples of George’s sense of fun included a painting of a nude placed in the men’s loos, which brought a letter of complaint, saying it was “an affront to women everywhere”, George thought this hilarious, and hung the framed letter on the wall next to the picture. With his hunting connections, he once invited Mark Bycroft, Huntsman of the Old Surrey Burstow & West Kent Hunt, along with 20 couple of hounds to a lunchtime celebration, guests included the Queen Mother, Margaret Thatcher, and Dick Francis. Hounds and four horses were duly unboxed, and ushered into the Goring garden, all went well until Mark was called forward for a drink, whereupon hounds took it on themselves to attack various food trolleys, urinate on the tablecloths, and then invaded the kitchens, and front lobby area, much to the amusement of all.
Away from London, George’s great loves were horses and Cornwall, with a love of the sea and boats. Having acquired a former monastery, in Brittany, and a house in Port Isaac, he and friends would undertake by ex RNLI boat, Bugsey Malone, the 8hr Channel crossing at high speed. Another first, in 1981, was he and Jeremy partaking in the first Jet –Ski crossing of the Channel, the jet skis being named Sharon and Tracey, a good lunch in Dover delayed proceedings, and by the time he and Jeremy set of, it was in a heavy force 5 swell.
On a horse, George had many escapades, some caused by poor riding, or more seriously, by his poor eyesight and being unable to control the horse. In his favour he rode with great dash, was as brave as a lion, and let the horse do the work. He hunted with the High Peak, Meynell and West Kent, on occasion being sent home by the Master, and sometimes swapping his coat with someone to escape detection. Through a friendship with David Robinson, he came out with the Mid Surrey Farmers’ Draghounds, and joined the Mastership in 1995, in those days with Sir Edward Cazalet as Chairman, Douglas Bunn, Philippa Marshall, David Robinson and Peter Webb Masters, all of whom were unanimous in inviting him to join the Mastership. George, however, was not so sure, claiming that he got lost easily, and was working hard in London. He had already very generously helped to purchase Hunt horses, and whenever approached by Philippa Marshall for support, never said no, and this was also true for all the other organisations that he supported. Richard reports that Philippa was the only person George was frightened of, and her nickname Dragon, came from George. There is no doubt that George was probably the most charismatic, eccentric, exciting, and unconventional Master, but his days Field Mastering were few and far between, and on fair reflection, an accident waiting to happen. He jumped the biggest fences, and horses went well for him, but blighted by poor eyesight, low branches, and navigating through woods caused problems and in latter years he had to be marshalled through such areas. I particularly remember the last line of the day at Courtlands Farm, Sharpthorne where the Farmer was very particular about where we were not to go, George duly got lost and with a couple of laggards hacked back to the finish across the banned areas, seemingly unaware of the accelerating gesticulations of the Farmer and other Masters. George, however, saved the day, the Farmer had just killed a pig and made a large quantity of sausages for sale, he bought the lot! He was always enthusiastic about MSFD, in his view the best Drag Hunt in the world, supported us wholeheartedly, and wanted us to have as much fun as he had, God willing.
Most people in the horse world will remember George’s connection with Team Chasing, the Goring Hotel became the main sponsor of events throughout the country for a number of years, and George rode in the inaugural team chase at Hickstead, in host Douglas Bunn’s team. The event was broadcast on TV, and at the vital moment the screen went blank, someone had broken the cable, and the last words spoken before breakdown were Douglas Bunn shouting “George you stupid bugger”, as George galloped past him, wrapped in TV cabling. Richard, his twin brother, the younger by 14 minutes, commented that George was not particularly competitive, not too worried by his failures, he was just out to have fun, all part of his charm.
In 1983 he raced over the Pardubice course in what was then Czechoslovakia, being introduced to the crowd as a London hotelier, representing England, finishing a creditable 8th.
There are numerous phrases associated with George, specifically, “never blame yourself, blame the horses”, “Toujours a l’Attaque”, which in later years became “Nil Desperandum”, and “don’t give up, keep on trying”, which he had etched into his wooden loo seat.
George is survived by his wife Penny, and children Jeremy and Teresa. It was fitting at his passing in these straightened times , that his old friend Fred French, now Senior Master of MSFD, fellow compatriot in his Boring Goring team for 30 years, and at George’s suggestion, Huntsman of MSFD was able to blow Gone Away.
Tribute to George Goring by David Robinson
I think I’ve known George for nearly 50 years, but always remember my first encounter at an Old Surrey & Burstow Hunt Hunter Trial at Ardingly. We watched this chap approach the gate in front of the crowd, which had to be opened in the timed section. The horse and rider jumped the gate, and then jumped back, a slower approach the second time, and the horse still jumped it, the crowd were delirious, who was this maniac who keeps walking up to the gate and jumping it – the horse was once in a lifetime Bugsy Malone!
There were so many stories over the years, many unrepeatable, we learnt when on team chase duty, never to stay at the same hotel as George.
I remember a trip to the Scilly Isles from Padstow, arriving at the boat, we looked at the tide, but George insisted on drinks and a party, and by and by, when it was time to get going the boat was marooned on the mud, and there we stayed for 8 hours.
A final story, out dragging George was taking a comfort stop, a herd of Friesian cows had joined us at the check, and members were herding them away. George returned to his horse, and seeing the departing black and white shapes, cried out, “hey guys, don’t go without me”.
George was very charismatic, he wasn’t a leader, but he drew everyone in, and was an extraordinarily generous and kind person