Two undercover animal welfare activists covertly filmed an alleged hare-coursing event taking place on land owned by three-time champion jumps trainer Peter Easterby, a court heard.

The former trainer, charged under his birth name of Miles Henry Easterby, is accused of permitting land to be used for hare-coursing and attending a hare-coursing event in March 2007.

Easterby went on trial at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court yesterday alongside Major John Shaw, who is charged with the same offences.

The court was told how animal welfare activists Michelle Bryan and Joe Hashman attended the alleged hare-coursing events held over two days on land near Malton posing as a couple.

Mr Hashman secretly filmed the activities with a camera attached to a set of binoculars.

The court was shown footage of the alleged hare-coursing taking place on farmland owned by Easterby, 79, and Shaw, 56.

Mr Hashman told the court he did not take notes as he feared it would raise suspicions. He claimed over the two days possibly more than 40 occasions of hare-coursing took place.

Hare-coursing was outlawed by the Hunting Act, which came into force in 2005, but many former participants now take part in a permissible sport known as Greyhound Field Trials, which is run under strict rules. Mr Hashman said the people organising the event in North Yorkshire had made “cosmetic changes” to the way the event was being held.

He described how a man known as a “Slipper” would be positioned in a canvas structure located in a field which was known as a “Shy”.

Beaters would then drive the hares towards the Shy, where the Slipper would unleash two greyhounds, who then chased the animals. People attending the event would line the field and create an “arena” for the dogs to chase the hares.

Mr Hashman told the court: “They were funnelling the hares into the field. Guiding the hares, trying to control them one at a time.... so they could set the dogs on them.”

Easterby, of Great Habton and Shaw of Welburn, Kirkby Moorside, both North Yorkshire, deny the charges.