'Something for everyone!' - by Christine McDonald
This year's CLA Game Fair was held at Broadlands Estate in Hampshire, nestling a space in the estate's calendar between Hampshire County Show and an open-air production of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It'.
The Country Landowners Association Game Fair was last held at this historic home of Lord Mountbatten in 1984, but this year's event took up several times the area used in that year.
Dog-wise the Gundog area at Broadlands had more events than ever before. These had a strong emphasis on popular participation as well as being as always, a showcase for the best in British, and this year - European - gundogs. The wonderful variety of natural land including a marvellous flight pond provided some tense moments in competitive events. The Working Dog Ring provided visitors with displays of Flyball, Dog Agility, and representatives of the Windsor Gamekeepers to keep us entertained. There were plenty of opportunities for visitors and their dogs to 'have a go' with competitions imaginatively named 'Going Wild', 'The Bulldog', 'Against the Clock', plus pick-ups, scurries and scrambles to try our luck at.
Gilbertson and Page were back in their usual spot of sponsoring the Gundog Breeds Centre after last year's absence.
The company was at its 42nd Game Fair and David Watson, General Sales Manager said they were: "Glad to be back." The marquee this year was handsomely decorated with hanging baskets, and the wooden pens were the best breed areas I've seen at the Game Fair over many years' attendance. The height of the pens and prominent labels made it possible to scan the tent for certain breeds, and the separation into sub-groups worked well. Perhaps, a little more space could be provided in the aisles for perfection, but organiser Flatcoated Retriever and working cocker owner - Fiona Joint, and her assistant, Labrador owner - Geraldine Thompson had obviously worked very hard on the design with the sponsors, and it had paid off.
As well as the division into sub-groups inside the Gundog Breeds Centre, the parades were also so divided, which led for a much slicker presentation throughout the day. David Tomlinson, of The Shooting Times, provided all the commentaries and as usual breed club officials or allocated representatives were on hand to answer questions about the working nuances of each breed. I was pleased to catch up with a number of friends with dual-purpose gundogs. Shula Shipton was present as usual with her Mishules Field Spaniels.
Shula was greatly missing her dear 'Gremlin' - Shirmal Sally Ann of Mishules - whom she lost with after an aneurysm in her uterine artery. She was only eight years old and so it was a great shock to Shula. Of great attraction were the pictorial pedigrees put together by overall Game Fair Gundog Manager Judi Seall. All for sub-groups were represented in her charts of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Pointers, Gordon Setters, English Springer Spaniels and GSPs. The Labrador male line was shown from Malmesbury Trampin in 1878 through to the 1996 Retriever Championship winner FT Ch Linksview Jet. In a spider chart of Pointers, connections were shown to and from Stan Smith's FT Ch Sparkfield Max of Dorvalstan, born in 1980 and winner of 40 FT awards including 16 Open Stakes (handled by Colin Organ and Marion Clark).
At the time of success with Max, Stan was beginning to show his new imports the Brittanys - Ted, Sam and Rolline and Puk..
Golden Retriever's Judi selected the dog that stole the hearts
of the public watching Crufts Gundog displays on the 'telly'
- FT Ch Holway Corbiere. His lines were shown back through
generations of FT Chs, full Chs and Dual Chs to Culham Brass,
who was shown in a lovely b/w photo of retrieving to hand
in 1904. Judi had traced Mr Truman's line of Gordon Setters
from the Duke of Gordon's Grouse in 1836 through Chs Blossom(1872)
Heather Grouse (1886) Redruth Colonel (1894) through to FT
Ch Joker of Cromlix, FT Ch Kunta Kinte (1975) Ft Ch Lusca
Se (1992) and many titled dogs in between. It was interesting
to note the amount of white seen on the dogs pictorially represented.
Many of the retriever pictures and charts can be seen in Judi's
new book, much of which compiled was from the scrapbooks of
H Reginald Cooke, The History of Retrievers.
The Working Clumber Spaniel Club used the Game Fair to launch their new breed brochure - the snazziest three-fold brochure I've seen for a dog breed - with outstanding photographs and nicely written text. The club's President is HRH The Princess Royal, and the publication is indeed one I'm sure she would be pleased to be associated with. The breed was the only one with two breed clubs represented. I can't see how this could be sensibly extended to all breeds, nor that this would be desirable. Caught up with Andrew Begg on duty with his dual CC winning Irish Setter and Judy Franklin with her titled bitch Ziggy plus youngsters. When I visited the breed pen, visitors were studying a very smart chart demonstrating Setter working patterns. The Kennel Club shared a stand with Skinners for promoting 2003 - the Pilot year of new Working Gundog Certificate and the well-established Good Citizen awards, and had a variety of goods and publications on sale, as well as advice and information.
Throughout the show the campaign for Liberty and Livelihood was prominent, with many stands for signing up your commitment to march on September 22nd in London. Gundog owners selecting to that show instead at Gundog Society of Wales Championship show, for example, can still sign up to state they are "Marching in Spirit". Next year's CLA Game Fair, the 46th, will be held at Harewood House, Leeds on August 1-3, 2003.