Summer at Hemel Hempstead"
WE KNOW that "Agility Summer" has arrived when the Southsea show comes around. That is, if you are lucky enough to camp at Southsea. The weekend following this is the Agility Club Show, orginally ran by BAGSD Hemel Hempstead. The Agility Club now runs two shows; one at the end of June which is the Championship Agility Show and this one which holds two major Pedigree Finals, plus the finals of the Agility pairs Knockout.
The weather this year was pretty awful on the Sunday with rain for most of the day. However it could have been a disaster, because on the Thursday before the show the venue was subjected to eight hours of torrential rain and had the ground not been so well drained it would have been an absolute nightmare trying to park four hundred caravans on the showground. But the rain stopped on Thursday evening and in the following 24 hours the ground firmed up enough to enable the show to continue.
Once again the show was laid back and well organised with a very pleasant atmosphere. A very small committee organised the event it was gratifying to see plenty of volunteers come forward to help run it. The Pedigree Gamblers and Power & Speed Finals took place at the end of the competition on the Saturday and once the last of the show prizes had been presented the first event was underway which was the Gamblers. The judge this year was Mr Peter Catt; I'm sure Peter's been around for something like 20 years and is one of the most experienced agility people in the UK, having both competed & judged for such a long time.
As is the tradition with this event, all the handlers are made to wait out of sight in the marquee so that they can't see the ring, this ensures every handler who competes has the same chance and no one is able to watch some else's success or failure. Peter allowed 35 seconds on the course and then 12 seconds for the 'gamble' which would consist of any four single jumps. If one of the four jumps attempted was knocked down, as long as another single pole was taken, concluding with four being taken successfully and was within the time then the handlers would be awarded the Gambler points.
First off was Lesley Olden with Looby. She had a storming round and completed the course within the 'gamble' time achieving 53 points, giving her an eventual third place. The next four handlers struggled to get anywhere near her points although they did get the 'gamble', until one of the oldest handlers competed with his "bionic" knees - Mike Long who achieved a very crediable 51 points which gave him an eventual sixth place. Nicola Garrett ran seventh achieving 54 points and took the lead. Gwyn Roberts went next and try as he might he could only get 52 points which would give him an eventual fifth place. Sarah-Jayne Davies ran ninth and achieved 50 points, then running twelfth Jo Rhodes stepped up with Moravia Red October and did what everyone thought was now impossible and achieved 56 points. Blair Willis went next and nearly did it getting 52 points in 44 seconds. Next to run were two of our favourites, Greg Derrett was first with Fern Sproglett, but disaster struck and he only achieved 25 points (looks like he may be needing some advice from Mike Long!). Then stepped up another favourite, Stuart Harmes with Noggin the Nogg, who looked to be having a storming round, attempted the 'gamble' and then horror of horrors, although he completed the four jumps he got to the table in 47.01 which meant he was 0.01 seconds outside the 'gamble' time, ending up with 39 points. Last to go in this very exciting final was Helen Nelson with Bobby, I have to say one of my favourite dogs but unfortunately only achieved 25 points and missed the 'gamble'. So Jo Rhodes took away the Gamblers crown for 2001.
After the course change following this was to be the Pedigree Power and Speed Final. Commentating on Gamblers and Power & Speed was Alan Disbery, which allowed me to concentrate on organising the event and of course a final that is not run in front of the general public and is what I would call an "enthusiasts" final is Alan's forte and during both of these finals the audience and competitors were in stitches. It was one of the most witty commentaries I think we have ever heard - that is unless of course you were the butt of some of his jokes! Alan certainly lost a lot of the commentators inhibitions that you have to have at events such as Crufts & Discover Dogs! The lasting memories must have been the comments about one young lady's bed springs in her caravan and the shape of one chaps legs but I am sure you would only get the joke if you were there and heard it!
The format of the Power & Speed was as usual with the 'power' section taking place first followed by a very fast 'speed' section, the majority of which took place in a circle round the three sides on the ring with a very very fast finish. There were three hurdles in particular where you had to handle the dog and change his direction. There were 30 competitors in the final, and only four were eliminated on the 'power' section and two on the 'speed'. Dawn Williams was the first to run and went clear in 40.49 seconds which gave her the eventual seventh place. Next after a couple of eliminations, Jo Rhodes was on the line with Moravia Red October and having just won the Gamblers final she looked to be a favourite for this final as well. However, it wasn't to be as she collected 10 faults. Liz Morgan had a clear round but unfortunately not quick enough, Margaret Serle had 5 faults and then up stepped Greg Derrett and into the lead he went with Jaycee and a clear round in 14.34 seconds. Next to go was Neil Bowery with Wizzy the Wizard who made Greg look slow knocking half a second of his time and took the lead. Alan Bray went clear but 1.5 seconds slower than Neil, the next handler to run who got into the places was Sue Frazier with Fern at thirteenth. Her legs were really going hard and she got round in 14.47 seconds giving her eventual sixth place. At fourteenth Jo Rhodes was up, this time with C.I - could she make it a double? She stormed round clear in 13.87 seconds, I don't know what the percentage chances are but this was exactly the same round as Neil Bowery so we had a run off for first place! There followed a number of the famous faces who just could not get near the time. Traci Gaunt with Trevor finished in ninth on 15.03 and Terry Insull with Madge got 14.51 and finished in eighth place. Mary Ray with Kizzy had a courageous try and although went clear could only manage 15.68 seconds. Then up came Nicola Garrett who has been doing really well this year with Hocus Pocus, yet try as she might could only make 14.11 seconds which gave her an eventual third place. Running twenty-ninth Greg Derrett was on line with Fern and I think determined to do better than he did with Jaycee. But despite all his efforts he could only get round in 14.39 which was 0.05 slower than with Jaycee which meant he was now in both fourth & fifth place.
Now we had the deciding run Neil Bowery and Wizzy the Wizard and Jo Rhodes with Moravia the C.I. They both stormed round the course with Jo going clear in 13.89, 0.02 slower than her original run and Neil who perhaps would not have been favourite to win before the competition started went round in an amazing time of 13.83 which was 0.04 quicker than his original run but unfortunately with five faults on the 'speed' section which put him in second place. So Jo had done the double, winning the Gamblers with one dog and Power & Speed with the other! And so concluded some very exciting finals and the best day weather-wise of the show as the following morning we arose to find it rather damp. k.