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John Peel moment as hunt takes bow

The parade of hounds at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture: Gary Longbottom
The parade of hounds at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture: Gary Longbottom
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FOR four decades, his voice has been one of the defining sounds of the Great Yorkshire Show.

Mike Tucker, the former huntsman who has supplied his distinctively ripened showjumping commentaries to the BBC as well as the Harrogate crowds, was in full voice as the parade of hounds took its three laps of the main arena.

The parade of hounds at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture: Gary Longbottom

The parade of hounds at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture: Gary Longbottom

“The countryside we have in Britain has been formed over the years by hunting,” he enthused. “It’s a site that symbolises the Yorkshire countryside.”

Four packs rode out into the ring - the Middleton Hunt, from Malton down into the Wolds; the Bilsdale, the oldest in the country, from Helmsley; the Catterick beagles; and the original John Peel hunt, the Blencathra foxhounds, from the Lake District.

As they passed the grandstand to the sound of horns and the barking of the hounds, a roar worthy of Wimbledon went up.

“This is my favourite show,” Mr Tucker said, before it began. “It has been for a long time.”

The parade of hounds at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture: Gary Longbottom

The parade of hounds at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture: Gary Longbottom

He had, at 73 and after six Olympics, announced his retirement from the BBC earlier this year, but yesterday he was showing no signs of handing over the reins.

A farmer and former fieldmaster with the Duke of Beaufort’s hut in his native Gloucestershire, he has been on the mic at the showground since 1972. In the 1990s he became the BBC’s principal equestrian commentator, following the death of Raymond Brooks-Ward.

“What always impresses me is that when people come to Britain, they’re amazed at the variation of country we have in such a small island. The hills, the woodland - it’s all been made over the years by the hunting scene,” Mr Tucker said.

“Yorkshire has so much great countryside, and it’s all been fabricated over the centuries by the act of hunting.”