Reports by Margaret Allen and Robert Worrall
It was extremely fortunate that Norman and Sandra Onens could host the Open Trial once again and that Nick Jordan and his team of Guns were able to shoot for us. All of these people are very experienced in the running of a trial day and this made it very easy for me.
I stayed the night before the trial with Mr & Mrs White at Offenham. Arlene White was to be one of our ‘A’ Panel Judges. In the morning Philip White told me that Arlene had had a terrible night with very bad pain in her back and leg and would not be able to judge. What a shock! But before I had time to register all the problems that this presented, Philip said that he could judge in Arlene’s stead. Philip is also an ‘A’ Panel Judge so how wonderful this news was! He had not judged for some time but it was super to have him back in the game – I have always found it a pleasure to be judged by him. He was as acute as ever and with the other Judges, Brian Gregory, Kate Smith and Clare Wood the two days went smoothly and well.
Robert Worrall’s report gives a good overview of the trial itself and I give the results below.
As you may know, I agreed to stand in as Field Trial Secretary for the Club for this season. I will be standing down at the end of January 2014. If no one comes forward to take on the post, our Club will not be able to run Field Trials. This would be a great pity especially in view of the fact that Thelma ran our trials successfully for so many years and worked so hard to get us 2-Day Open status.
I will give the new Field Trial Secretary all the help I can. Everything is up-together and the venue for next year’s Open is booked. The Guns are already arranged too so all this makes the job easier. It’s a job that gives a lot of satisfaction and you get to meet all the top dogs and their handlers. Let’s hear from you as soon as possible.
As my first Open Field Trial of the new season, I was very much looking forward to running at New Farm as I know what an excellent venue it is. Norman and Sandra Onens put in a tremendous amount of hard work to ensure that whether we are there for a training day or a trial, the very best can always be expected.
We started off in relatively low sugar beet and before long were into the first flush of partridges. Some were picked and some not and after some very smart controlled hunting it was sad to see a couple of good dogs being eye-wiped by the judges in the first round – the joys of trialling!
Mixed fortunes followed as we moved into a new area of beet with some smart work from a number of competitors, again mostly on partridges. It’s always great to see the quality of the other dogs in a stake and the high standards and dedication of fellow handlers. A couple of good dogs went out on a bird shot down the line behind a small pen which must have been difficult to handle on to. It seemed like the dogs were about to pick but then not – again the judges went out and found the bird, the vagaries of scent struck again.
I was pleased to be able to pick my three birds relatively cleanly to get through the first two rounds of day one and really had no idea who was likely to go through to day two.
9 dogs were selected to go through to the second day and the stake really was up for grabs. We moved on to new ground some distance away from New Farm and walked up in a large field of beet towards a distant hedge line. A couple of dogs were lost and my boy managed to mark and pick cleanly even if I hadn’t myself. We eventually moved on and into the ‘plantation’, which is an area thick with high white grass, thickets, scrub and low trees, real hunting territory. This saw the demise of some more dogs and then there were 5 of us left. Barbara Kuen, Robert Fisher, Colin Pelham, Ricky Ross Moloney and myself.
The judges were asking for ‘one more retrieve’ so when we had picked our birds the sense of relief was palpable. However, it was short lived as we had moved back out into the beet and the judges, after discussion, decided that we still needed some further retrieves to separate us – such was the competition. My dog managed to pick behind another dog on a long partridge shot out on some ploughed ground with minimal handling. Colin Pelham’s dog also did a neat job managing an eye-wipe across a thick ditch and into a beet field beyond. Enough and ‘trial over’.
Sincere thanks to the West of England Labrador Retriever Club for everything, a special thank you to Norman Onens for the prefect two days. Thank you to our excellent judges who worked so hard, fairly and skilfully and earned the respect of all us competitors. Thank you to Margaret Allen, the Secretary, for all her hard work and to all the others who helped on the day. Thank you to Nick Jordan and the team of guns who shot so superbly.