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Paper Hunt Club

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago


The Paper Hunt Club



The Shanghai Paper Hunt Club came about because of the British need to go hunting wherever they find themselves. Unfortunately, Shanghai lacks any relevant animal to hunt and experiments in the nineteenth century with chasing one member with a red cowl on his head were not a success. So the British came up with the paper chase hunt. The sport is a cross between hunting and point-to-point racing. After following the trail to a checkpoint about two miles from the home mark, it becomes a race to the finish. The winner has the privilege of laying the paper for next week’s hunt, wearing a pink coat and a top hat.



Unlike other British clubs, the Paper Hunt welcomes a number of nationalities. Many Chinese ride to the hunt. However, the regulations do not permit any honorary lady members to have a say in the running of the club, nor may they ride in the club Paper hunt, club Handicap or the club Steeplechase. They may enter ponies but not themselves except in the Ladies’ Paper Hunt.



The season begins in November after the cotton and bean harvest and ends in March. The club does its best to get on with Chinese farmers, who disapprove of the hunt, often try to sabotage it and make exorbitant compensation claims when their land is ridden over. The hunt distributes a large amount of money each year in damages and has built several bridges which are also useful for the locals. However, things are still strained – some riders have reported finding mantraps laid in some fields.



On the evening before the first hunt of the new season, the hunt master holds open house at the race club for all members. The following day, he lays the trail accompanied by the head paper hunt boy and six other Chinese carrying the various bags of coloured paper. Green paper indicates bridges where the hunt must stop, purple indicates wades. The master and each subsequent winner must take the jumps they lay paper over. The hunt covers five to ten miles. The boys throw paper down every few hundred yards, often on top of grave mounds (which take the form of small hillocks with a stone slab set in one side) in order to catch the eye.



After lunch, a line of limousines makes its way to the end of Bubbling Well Road, where the passengers climb out in riding costume, the previous winners in pink jackets, about a hundred riders in all. Then the hunt is off – if the trail is lost, the hunt fans out until someone finds the trail again and shouts “tally-ho”. Chinese farmers often re-route the trail to sow confusion, and laugh their heads off at the results. There is always a surgeon in attendance, as injury is easy to come by. One may come off on a bridge and fall into the water, misjudge the leap over a creek or be fooled by a grave mound, many of which turn out to be wider than they appear. Many races are decided by grave mounds near the winning post, as riders must make the choice whether to go around them or try to leap over.

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