updated 2/11/01
Show Spaniels Field Day 2001

On the third Saturday of the pheasant shooting season, dual-purpose spaniel supporters travelled deep into unspoilt rural England to Stamford in Lincolnshire, gathering for the 21st time at Martin Trollope-Bellew’s Barholm estate for the Show Spaniels Field Day run by the Midland English Springer Spaniel Society.

The event was first run in 1965 to show spaniels still have the intelligence, character and instinct to enable them to carry out the function for which they were originally bred, and to demonstrate that a well-constructed dog can still work if given the chance.

The October morning started with a welcome by Kay Woodward, Secretary of the MESS Society, who then carried out the draw for the running order and gave safety instructions and a brief outline of the day. The assembled company then split - some to watch the Novice Tests and others to view the Show Gundog Working Certificate assessments.

Melissa and Kerry Duncan’s with their Welsh Springer Spaniel and new ‘full’ Ch Highclare Storm Trooper,
made up at the Show Spaniels Field Day (subject to KC confirmation); right is breeder Gill Tully.

The senior judge on the day was Clarence Colclough, who is on The Kennel Club ‘A’ panel as are two of his sons - Carl and Mark. Both have won the Spaniel Championships twice, Carl this year with Cocker bitch FT Ch Kimscot Swoop. Many will remember the famous ESS he campaigned for many years - FT Ch Badgercourt Moss. The family is entrenched in gundogs - Clarence’s wife Frances has been secretary and treasurer of the Essex Field Trial Society for ten years, and their youngest son, Clive is a keeper.

The other Field Trial panel judge was Mark Clifford, the host society’s Field Trial Secretary, who has been newly appointed to The Kennel Club’s ‘B’ panel. In addition to impact of copious quantities of mud on the entrance track, the rain of early morning had left a dampness to the ground that, coupled with the scent from a plethora of game and a decent wind, provided excellent conditions for hunting dogs.

Twenty one spaniels were entered for the SGWC, two American Cockers, four Clumbers, one Sussex, four Fields, five English Springers, a Cocker, and four Welsh Springers including two hoping to remove the ‘Sh’ from their title. An early runner was Sharon Barkley’s Sh Ch Parkmist Mr Frisk JW who certainly knew how to enjoy himself. He managed to set my heart racing with his style and exuberance, but sadly for Sharon took the ‘steadiness is not essential’ phrase in the regulations a little too far.

Best Performance of the Day - the American Cocker - Combleywood Party Piece at Belcrum, handled by Bill Ironside.

Kerry Duncan was handling her mother’s Sh Ch Highclare Stormtrooper and demonstrated a good hunt-up in sugarbeet, then had to wait for a later run to retrieve a freshly shot duck. Jane Eyeington was handling the English Springer Calvdale Guilty as Charged of Meadowdale who is normally worked by her husband. ‘Connie’ seemed a little concerned by the amount of people and guns in line, but hunted well and retrieved neatly to hand.

Jane and husband Steve own a ‘full’ Champion German Shorthaired Pointer, and have ‘qualified’ three Labradors for other owners. Julie Revill ran her Welsh Springer bitch Julita Regal Request hoping for her fourth generation ‘qualifier’. Just off a litter, ‘Quest’ took a fair amount of encouragement to pick the shot pheasant, and then carried it nicely towards her handler.


Bernd Kugow had a nice run with Waldmeister Martell, a young daughter of last year’s Best Performance of the Day winner. She showed much promise but unfortunately was unwilling to pick duck on the day, despite her successful practising at home. A confident retrieve by the Cocker Okell Our Blue Belle made for the sixth SGWC for Jo Walker, and fallen duck were also successfully brought in by the Clumber litter brothers - Greencourt Mister Boy at Clumsetter and Clumber Greencourt Hello Mister at Clumsetter, both owned by Nigel and Lisa Franklin. Alec Geddes’ Debanza Brigadier had a successful retrieve through a wire fence

Bill Ironside with this year’s overall winner - Combleywood Party Piece at Belcrum on the right. On the left is Boduf Fire Devil for Belcrum, Best Performance of the Day in 1997, who retired from competitive events on the day.

The Advanced Test saw ten pairs of spaniels hunting in sugarbeet. In the event of game being flushed and shot this, was used for retrieves and if not game from the morning’s session was thrown, with some extra supplies of the famous Barholm ‘flying rabbits’ making their presence. Some good performances were seen, with the American Cocker bitch Combleywood Party Piece at Belcrum executing a great test with handler Bill Ironside. She has won the Advanced Test twice before, and progeny from her three litters have either already shown promise in both showing and working fields or, in the case of her four month old babies, are destined to do so.

Talking with Bill whilst waiting in the gallery, he told me of his decision to retire Boduf Fire Devil for Belcrum on the day. ‘Dandy’ was Best Performance of the Day in 1997 and with Bill’s partnership has done so much to demonstrate to show-goers and workers alike that American Cockers can work well as gundogs. Bill’s relationship with the Show Spaniels Field Day goes back to 1976, when the event was held on Mr and Mrs Anderson’s land at St Ives, near Cambridge. That year he was awarded Best Qualifier with the Clumber ‘Fancy of Raycroft of Belcrum’. Bill and wife Marjorie have Dandy’s progeny at home to train, so doubt we will be seeing the canny Scotsman for many field days to come.

Host Martin Trollope-Bellew points the way, surrounded by Jeff Backhouse, ‘A’ panel judge Clarence Colclough, Ernie Lockett (game carrier) Mark Clifford ‘B’ panel judge, and Anthony Machin, one of the guns with his father, John.

The judges called three dogs in for a run-off, to decide placings on the basis of hunting style. These were Gill Pearce’s Cocker Pearkim Parable - 2nd in the same test two year’s ago, Julie Revill’s WSS Julita Ruella, and Shula Shipton’s well known seven year old black Field Spaniel bitch ‘Gremlin’ also known in the field and show-ring as Shirmal Sally Ann of Mishules. Last year she was second in the Advanced Test, and third in 1997. Shula is recognised by everyone in minor spaniels for the tremendous efforts she makes to keep us informed of working opportunities for our dogs.

Novice Tests were judged by Andrew McDonald, who has had a close association with Welsh Springers for at least twenty years. An active shooting man, he has been involved with the training of our three ‘full’ champions (two of them championship group winners) and others besides. He handled Ch Northey Whittington to Best ‘Qualifier’ at the 1991 SSFD. Since then he has taken to an English Springer as a shooting companion.

The seven successful SGWC candidates with judges Mark Clifford and Clarence Colclough.
The best qualifier - Julie Revill’s WSS Julita Regal Request is on the right.

The test consisted of: 1. Walk to heel for two edges of a 20-yard triangle. 2. Sit and stay with a distraction dummy thrown for later memory retrieve. 3. Recall. 4. Hunt up away from the fallen dummy. 5. Seen retrieve heralded by pistol shot. 6. Memory retrieve.

The cover was a field of set-aside stubble with various vegetation growing through. I arrived at the scene of the test just in time to see Alec Geddes, a staunch supporter of the Show Spaniels Field Day over the years, have a super run with his homebred English Springer Debanza Brigadier. By this time, the party with the Advanced Test had moved to a field of beet neighbouring the Novice Test site, and the sound of real gunfire seemed to fire-up the three year old Brigadier, without affecting his steadiness, which was exemplary. Good gundog work obviously runs in the genes - his dam gained her SGWC at ten months of age and was placed in last year’s Advanced Test.

The Cocker Okell Our Blue Belle confidentially retrieved a very large duck to a thrilled Jo Walker.
This was the sixth Okell to attain the SGWC.

Noteworthy in the Novice test, was the dummy throwing talent of Sue Young of Canyonn Cockers fame. Sue said to me later that she realised there is more to the skill of throwing dummies than is immediately obvious, and promises to take lessons on technique before taking on the role another time! Presentations were made by landowner Martin Trollope- Bellew, who is Patron and Honorary Vice-President of the society, to those satisfying the requirements of the Show Gundog Working Certificate - Julie Revill’s Julita Regal Request, Jane Eyeington’s ESS Calvdale Guilty as Charged of Meadowdale, Alec Geddes’ ESS Debanza Brigadier, Duncan’s WSS Sh Ch Highclare Storm Trooper, Franklin’s pair of Clumbers bred by Andi Shaw Greencourt Mister Boy at Clumsetter and his litter brother Greencourt Hello Mister at Clumsetter; and Jo Walker’s Cocker Okell Our Blue Belle.


Best qualifier was Julie Revill’s Julita Regal Request who with luck may become her third ‘full’ champion. The Advanced Test winner, Gun’s Choice and Best Performance of the Day was announced to be Bill Ironside’s Combleywood Party Piece at Belcrum, and Bill’s wife Marjorie went up to accept the silverware from host Martin Trollope- Bellew. Second went to Julie Revill’s Welsh Springer Julita Ruella, sharing a grandsire with the new full Champion made up on the day, third to Shula Shipton’s Field Spaniel Shirmal Sally Ann of Mishules, and fourth to Gilly Pearce’s Cocker Pearkim Parable. Novice awards were presented to Alec Geddes’ English Springer Debanza Brigadier as winner of the event for male dogs and Best Overall Novice. Second male - Pat Guy’s English Springer Fenaybrook First Knight, third Gilly Pearce’s Cocker Humbar Crackers with Pearkim and fourth Sharon Barkley’s WSS Sh Ch Parkmist Mr Frisk JW. In the distaff side the winning partnership was Sue Cox with her and Paula Hull’s Cocker Ashenberry Allsocks, second Gill Tully’s Welsh Springer Highclare Energizer, third Alec Geddes’ English Springer Debanza Heilan Dancer and fourth Sheila Clark’s English Springer Sallidene Torfrieda Welsh Springers won the Best team award with Highclare Energizer, H Spin Doctor and H Trade Secret, billed in the programme as ‘The Queen’s Team’.

The award ceremony over, it was now time for the homeward journeys, but not before a number of vehicles had to be pushed through the brown, squidgy, Lincolnshire mud in order to exit the field. Thanks are extended to those who helped with getting the straw to help temper the muddy track and with pushing cars to dryer ground. The society’s officers and committee had worked extremely hard to organise the event and helpers had been busy all day with stewarding, game carrying, dummy throwing and the little extras that make a successful Field Day.

The society would like to thank Ernie Lockett, Sue Young, Jack Guy, Malcolm Leeming, Sue Long and Harvey Smith, none of who are Committee members, but were willing to give up their day to come and help out.

For a party of nearly thirty, judges, organizers, and competitors the day ended at the Lady Anne Hotel in the centre of the Georgian town of Stamford, described by Sir Walter Scott long before Tesco hijacked the word as: “The finest scene between London and Edinburgh”. The Lady Anne is certainly an extremely attractive venue for an after-shoot dinner.

After a delicious meal, MESSS Chairman Pat Guy rose to toast the successes of the day and the generosity of the host. In response, Martin Trollope-Bellew recounted how the original invitation to the Barholm Estate (pronounced Ba’ham) came about. It transpired that his keeper of the day had a brother who was known to a member of MESSS. Introductions were made and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history. In his speech, and as requested to publish, the host said he had since had ‘five keepers and three wives’ and he was hoping the current ones would stay.

On behalf of the judges, Mark Clifford praised the dog work he and Clarence Colclough had seen, but commented that: “Many were let down by their handlers.” They felt that fourteen dogs had been capable of fulfilling the requirements of the Show Gundog Working Certificate, but the handlers had not shown the degree of competence of their canine partners. Mark continued with a very generous offer to help a group prepare for next year’s Show Spaniels Field Day by arranging an instruction day next September.

Best in the SGWC tests was Julie Revill’s WSS Julita Regal Request.
The fourth generation of home-bred qualifiers for Julie.

Bill Ironside spoke on behalf of the competitors thanking the judges for their kind manner and patient encouragement, the host for the provision of the Barholm Estate ground and good-natured, accurate guns, and the Midland English Springer Spaniel Society for providing the opportunity for dual-purpose spaniel owners to compete together and to run their prize winners for the Show Gundog Working Certificate. The appeal of a day watching gundog work is not only to meet and converse with like-minded disciples, but also to witness nature at its rawest and best.

I sincerely hope MESSS takes up the offer of their Field Trial secretary in running a training day for the Show Gundog Working Certificate next August or September. I’m sure there will be a great deal of interest from both newcomers and experienced dual-purpose spaniel devotees.


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