Ferrets on their marks for ‘Grand National’

Scarva is to provide the backdrop for a “world first” event shaping up to leave the sport of kings in the dust.

The picturesque village, already famed for its annual Sham Fight, and more recently home to the Northern Ireland CountrySports Fair, is to be the scene of what’s being billed as the first ever Ferret Grand National.

Ferret friends for now, but will Grand National rivalry force a rift. Edward Byrne Photography.

Ferret friends for now, but will Grand National rivalry force a rift. Edward Byrne Photography.

Staged as part of the CountrySports Fair - May 28&29 - the event is expected to see hundreds of ferrets descend on Scarvagh House as trainers, breeders and owners are encouraged to bring their animal athletes along on the day.

It’s not the only twist to a fair which last year saw 5,600 paws pass the gates, more than 20,000 cartridges shot, 6,000 arrows loosed, 1,800 jumps cleared, 56 wings take flight and 7,500 burgers served up.

In another first, this year sees the fair extend into Saturday evening (May 28) with a Country and Western concert and charity donkey derby.

Event Director, Derek Lutton said: “Rural life and country sports are at the very heart of our history and heritage in Northern Ireland.

“Our event has gone from strength to strength over the years – annually attracting 18,000 visitors.

“Following our move to Scarvagh House in 2015, this year we are keen to cater to our ever expanding audience base.

“We will continue to demonstrate the very best of traditional country sports, which are the cornerstone of our event, from gun-dog tests to archery, clay pigeon shooting to angling, whilst ensuring we give our guests something new to enjoy.”