Photo by Gaynor Bailey
( l-r back): judge, Mick Rock; Paul Anderson, captain of winning team; judge, Dave Garbutt; (front) Malin Hilding; Lena Bratsberg; Karlsson-Gunilla Wedeen
THE FRIDAY, the first day of the CLA Game Fair saw the Aigle Euro Challenge taking place, judged by Mick Rock and Dave Garbutt. This consisted of six teams three from English regions, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East, and Lancashire and the North West; three from European countries, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. Each team was comprised of four handlers and four different breeds of dog, one of which had to be a hunting dog such as spaniel or HPR.
Each team walked up the arena with the spaniel hunting ahead whilst the retrievers walked at heel, all completing various tests such as marked retrieves ahead over a fence into stubble turnips which disguised the scent of the dummy causing problems for several dogs.
Hidden dummies (blinds), behind the line, flushed pigeons from clumps of dead wood, fired at with blanks to prove that the spaniels were steady, water retrieves and dummies thrown over quite a high fence into a dark wood all added to the difficulties, particularly when a dummy wrapped in a rabbit skin was pulled across in front of the handlers and dogs causing great excitement and one or two run ins! They were not easy tests on a hot day with very little scent but the majority of dogs conducted themselves well.
It was interesting to see Flatcoated, Golden, and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers working instead of a field of just labradors and there was some extremely good retrieving accomplished by these dogs, done with style and panache.
After a run-off to find the Top Dog between Swedens Lena Bratsberg-Karlsson with Labrador Searover Flame and Yorkshire and the NEs Peter Bates with Lab FT Ch Glenpatrick Eve, won by Peter, the Team places were announced. Peter Hayes, Aigles UK sales director presented 1st to Sweden with 343 points; 2nd to Yorkshire and the NE with 334; 3rd the Midlands with 327; 4th Lancashire and the North West with 307; 5th Switzerland with 290; 6th Germany with 286.