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Show Spaniels Field Day 2002
Dual purpose ‘minors’ show the way!
Report & Photos by Christine McDonald

Winner of the Best Performance of the Day for the third time in four years was Bill Ironside with American Cocker ‘Poppy’ combleywood Parti Piece at Belcrum

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 22nd 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 1966 to show spaniels still have the intelligence, character and instinct to enable them to carry out the function that they were originally bred for, and to demonstrate that a well-constructed dog can still work if given the chance.

This year was the first for the newly worded Show Gundog Certificate (SGWC) that called for a water component in addition to the land tests.

The bright, but chilly October morning started with welcomes by Margaret Backhouse and Kay Woodward, representing the organising society Midland English Springer Spaniel Society.

The draw for the running order was then made and safety instructions given with 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.

The senior judge on the day was Clarence Colclough, who was officiating for the second consecutive year. He is on the Kennel Club ‘A’ panel as are two of his sons - Carl and Mark.

The family is steeped in gundogs - Clarence’s wife Frances, who joined him on the day, has been secretary and treasurer of the Essex Field Trial Society for over a decade, and their youngest son, Clive is a keeper. The other Field Trial panel judge was Eric Elwick who has owned ESSs since 1982, his trialling dog being FT Ch Burntstump Lass. Eric has made up another two FT Chs since Lass.

Twenty two spaniels were entered for the SGWC, one American Cocker, two Clumbers, four Sussex, four Fields, seven English Springers, two Cockers, and two Welsh Springers. For the first time for spaniels the newly worded Show Gundog Working Certificate was in operation, which calls for dogs to be tested in line as proficient in hunting, facing cover, producing game, and retrieving tenderly freshly shot and unhandled game. Swimming and a retrieve from water are also compulsory.

The first few pairs called in line were tested in the plantation, but no game was raised by the dogs. Moving to the sugarbeet seemed to herald a change in fortune and it wasn’t long before Julie Revill’s WSS Julita Rustic Ramble had three contact flushes. The remaining dogs were tested in the beet as has become customary at Barholm. Some of the beet crop had already been harvested, and the tractors and trailers were at the edges of the field ready to continue. A poignant reminder of the generosity of our host in leaving commercial crops in the ground to be harvested after shooting had finished.

The first shot retrieve of the day was a hen pheasant runner retrieved to the hand of Ann Moon by her Sussex, Deanway Dance on Air. Another Sussex Berndt Kugow and Sue Holt’s Waldweister Martell was most impressive in hunting pattern but sadly did not like the duck later in the day.

Another who caught my eye was Bill Ironside’s dual CC winning junior Clumber Belcrum Another Angus who had a commendable run in the beet, but who showed his immaturity on an unseen partridge on stubble. He’s sure to be a good prospect in the future. Also tested on the partridge, after some bold hunting in the beet under Eric Elwick was the ESS Tryhard Yorkshire Gold, run by Malcolm Leeming and owned in partnership with Sue Long. ‘Ryan’ made light work of finding the Partridge and retrieved nicely to hand.

The company moved to the car park for the announcement of those dogs that had pleased the judges sufficiently thus far to go forward to the next component.

There were some mutterings about the decisions of which dogs went forward, and which did not. Unfortunately these mutterings were made rather loudly and within earshot of the host and his guns. Several competitors were new to the working field and I only hope they will not copy the example. It is very poor manners to impugn the judge’s decision whatever the circumstances and however well you feel your dog worked. Show spaniel folk are very fortunate to have the ground made available and panel judges who are prepared to give up a day’s trailling or shooting in order to officiate and however well you considered your dog worked, and competitors should show their gratitude and observe good etiquette.

Those passing through to the next round were tested on freshly shot duck flushed from the flight pond. Julie Revill’s WSS Julita Rustic Ramble was called first and executed the retrieve easily. The American Cocker Belcrum Disc Jockey has two winners of Best Performance of the Day as his parents and he did them proud with a neat retrieve of a duck. A further three dogs retrieved the freshly shot duck tenderly to hand the ESS Tryhard Yorkshire Gold, Sussex Deanway Dance on Air, and Cocker Pearkim Parable. These five then went onto the pond to be tested on swimming to retrieve a dummy. Unfortunately the American Cocker showed he was not keen on water, but the other four showed good swimming performances and retrieved the dummies from the deep water with ease.

The Advanced Test saw five and a half pairs of spaniels hunting in turnips using game and ducks from the morning’s sessions. The best run was by the American Cocker Combleywood Party Piece at Belcrum who put up a great performance getting right under the turnip leaves. She stopped to shot and quickly retrieved a hen pheasant shot in the morning’s session. Tina Smith’s WSS Highclare Internet at Rockstro also hunted the turnips with style and retrieved a hen pheasant with ease and pride.

Novice Tests were judged by Alec Geddes - who won Best Novice overall last year with his ESS Debanza Brigadier, who had also obtained his SGWC on the day.

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.

Sue Long ran her and Malcolm Leeming’s ESS Alanea Mercedes to beat 21 other male entries. The partnership also scored second in the novice bitch test with Tryhard Enchanting Tri.

Second in Novice dog was Gill Pearce’s Cocker Humber Crackers with Pearkim, third Chris Page’s Clumber Micklemess Just George, and fourth Pat Guest with Larbreck Dark’n’Delicious.

Novice bitch proved an ESS victory all round with a win for Trevor Beaton with his Calvdale in Possession at Summerstone, a good-looking lass by the secretary’s Sh Ch Wadeson Inspector Wexford, second Sue Long as mentioned, with Julian Grant picking up third and fourth places with Canouan Absoloodle Doodle and Canouan Rachel Heyhoe.

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 were WSS Julita Rustic Ramble, ESS Tryhard Yorkshire Gold, Sussex Deanway Dance on Air and Cocker Pearkim Parable.

Best qualifier was Julie Revill's Julita Rustic Ramble - the seventh Julita 'qualifier' and the fifth in direct line of descent for Julie.

The Guns’ Choice also came from the SGWC in the ESS Tryhard Yorkshire Gold.

The Advanced Test winner was announced as Bill Ironside with his and Marjorie’s American Cocker Combleywood Party Piece at Belcrum, a fourth consecutive win for this pair, second - Tina Smith’s WSS Highclare Internet at Rockstro, with Julie Revill picking up third and fourth places with her homebred Julita Rustic Ramble and Julita Ruella.

Novice presentations were made as detailed in the text, and the prestigious Frank Warner Hill Challenge Trophy for best performance of the day was presented to Bill Ironside for the third time in four years.

The society’s officers and committee had worked extremely hard to organize 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 particularly thank those who were not committee members, but were willing to give up their day to come and help out. Those with show spaniels wanting the opportunity to demonstrate their working abilities are indebted to MESSS, the judges, and the generosity of Martin Trollope-Bellew.