HUNDREDS turned out for North Yorkshire’s annual traditional Boxing Day hunts yesterday.

The Middleton Hunt, at Malton, gathered in the town’s market place and another group met at Driffield Showground at 11am.

In Easingwold, the York and South Ainsty Hunt turned out, the Zetland Hunt in Richmondshire met in Aldborough St John and the Derwent Hunt gathered in Brompton.

Record crowds were expected at Boxing Day hunts across the country after the Conservative Agriculture Minister Jim Paice spoke in support of hunting with dogs, stating that the Hunting Act “simply doesn’t work”.

Mr Paice said the coalition agreed there would be a vote on whether to repeal the act when there was “time in the parliamentary calendar”.

Opponents have argued there is no desire among the general public to bring it back.

Speaking yesterday morning, Joanna Newitt, treasurer of the supporters’ club for the Middleton Hunt, said the mood at the hunt had been bolstered by good weather after enduring a few years of freezing conditions.

She said: “The last three years have been frosted off so everyone will be in a good mood today. It’s like a summer’s day today. People can get their horses and horse boxes out this time.

“It’s easier on foot for everyone and we are looking forward to a lovely day.”

In 2009, several of the regions’ events were cancelled due to ice and snow making it dangerous for horses and hounds to take part.

The Zetland Hunt in Richmondshire was also cancelled last year as weather conditions were considered too dangerous for hunting to go ahead.