Father and son Tim and Harry Bateman claim to have seen the Rutland panther while riding in the county this weekend

Have you seen the Rutland panther? Rumours have been circulating for decades that it prowls the fields of the region and now two cyclists claim to have seen the beast with their own eyes.

Tim Bateman and his teenage son Harry were riding between Teigh and Market Overton on Sunday evening when they saw an animal chasing a pheasant through the grass.

It was too big to be a dog, apparently, and it wasn’t a deer, but was it actually the elusive panther?

“At first I thought it could be a deer, or perhaps a dog, but it was so fast and agile I’m convinced it was the Rutland panther,” Mr Bateman told the Stamford Mercury.

“It ran like a cheetah, at great speed. We watched it for two or three minutes, but it was too far away to get a photograph.

“I have heard the Rutland panther rumours several times over the years and have always been a bit sceptical, but now I’ve changed my mind. “Harry and I are both convinced we saw it.”

It’s added to the long list of reported sightings, with paw prints found in golf course bunkers and livestock killed in suspicious circumstances. But for now, the presence of big cats in Britain’s smallest county remains folklore.