A RENOWNED racehorse trainer is facing charges of hunting with dogs in a landmark court case.

Miles Henry Easterby, known as Peter, was arrested after an investigation by police into an alleged hare coursing event.

Mr Easterby, 78, from Habton Grange Farm, Great Habton, near Malton, North Yorkshire, denied two charges of attending a hare coursing event and allowing the practice on his land, when he appeared at Scarborough Magistrates' Court.

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Mr Easterby appeared in court with John Shaw, 54, of Welburn Manor, Welburn, near Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, and Andrew Lund-Watkinson, 56, of Pine View Lodge, Newton-on-Rawcliffe, near Pickering, North Yorkshire.

They were also charged with two charges of allowing a hare coursing event and allowing the practice on their land.

The defendants denied the charges, and the hearing was adjourned until Monday, September 24.

The three were bailed.

Mr Easterby declined to comment yesterday when contacted by The Northern Echo.

However, a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: "Those concerned are taking legal advice, but we strongly believe that everything on the day was carried out within the framework of the legislation."

It is understood to be the first time anyone has appeared in court charged with hare coursing since the Hunting Act 2004 came into force in 2005.

Before his retirement, Mr Easterby was one of the country's most successful flat and National Hunt trainers.

He won the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle five times and the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice.

He was named the Champion National Hunt trainer three times from 1979 to 1981.

One of his most famous horses was Sea Pigeon, which won the Chester Cup in 1977 and 1978 and the Ebor Handicap, at York, in 1979.

In 1996, after 46 years in the business, he passed on the reins to his son, Tim, who continues to train successfully at Habton Grange.

Hare coursers usually use two greyhounds or lurchers to chase a live hare across a field.

Under the act, a person found guilty of hare coursing could face a fine of up to £5,000.