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The Kennel Club Gundog Working Test

The Kennel club Gundog working Test was held on May 31st and June 1st. at the Arbury Estate, near Nuneaton. The judges were Messrs Cox, Lawton, Olner, Parkins, Ford and Mulligan. The results were:

Retrievers - 1 Mrs R J Coley’s lab d. Waterford Calibre (o/h) 2 Sheik Mohammed Al-Thani’s lab d. Bengrave Michael Mols (handled by D K robertson) 3 Mr D K Robertson’s lab d. Bengrave Badger (o/h) 4 Mrs Baylay’s lab d. Middlebrook dipper (o/h).

Spaniels - Mr j Bailey’s ESS d. FT Ch Nant-y-Bwla Ricky (o/h) 2 Mr A Slater’s ESS d. Kipperidge Jasper (o/h) 3 Mr C M Wadsworth’s ESS d. spanclough (o/h) 4 Mr S Tyer’s cocker d. FT Ch Sandford Black Mamba.



Photo by Peter Heard
Winners Mr j Bailey’s ESS d. FT Ch Nant-y-Bwla Ricky is sent out

The Kennel Club Open Gundog Working Spaniel & Retriever Tests were held at Arbury Park, Nuneaton, Warks., on Saturday and Sunday May 31st and June 1st 2003 in beautiful summery weather and in the beautiful estate of Arbury Park which Lord Daventry had placed at our disposal. Before entering the woodland where the competition was to take place the twenty competitors for The Kennel Club Open Spaniel Test assembled for a briefing.

Present with the competitors were the two Judges Graham Mulligan and Martin Ford, together with enthusiastic members of the Coventry and District Gundog Society functioning as Stewards, Dummy Throwers, and Crowd Control plus a good number of friends and well wishers

The briefing was explained by myself acting as Chief Steward and included the concept and layout of the test

The test was to be run as near as possible to a Field Trial, with hunting to be of prime importance. There would be a number of retrieves, seen, unseen, and with distractions. These would be repeated under each Judge, aimed at testing the handler’s control of the dog and the dog’s response under temptation.

Given the nature of the woods long retrieves were impossible to replicate for each handler, so each entrant was to have four unexpectedly short retrieves, placed or thrown to land freely on fresh ground as we hunted up the wood.

The top six dogs would qualify for the Final competing in unison with the top six retrievers for three awards and three placings in each breed.

This was not to be the usual Game Fair type of test. Fresh ground, natural cover, fallen trees, broken branches and game scent would provide different problems for each handler and dog. This would test the training, skill and experience of each and every one.
That was exactly how it proved to be.


Photo by Peter Heard
Who says labradors can’t walk on water!

The Stewards under the direction of Coventry clubman Rob Aldenton lined out, the judges moved into place and the crowd under the control of Rachel Corbett took up the best viewing positions and off we went.

Right from the start, it was noted that this ground was going to test the depth of training. The test itself had sounded simple, now the ground threw up little quirks. The dummy throwers had been well rehearsed, they were consistent. Ground cover changed from light to rough, and scent was variable. Some dogs coped some didn’t. Some were not up to Open standard. Others lacked control mostly, going for the wrong dummy, not responding to the whistle, not quartering, etc, losing points and falling by the wayside.

Eric Elwick’s dog Breckswood Lark caught the eye with it’s absolute disdain for heavy brambles. Twelve year old Harrison Lee-Everton’s bitch Helsby Heidi of Marstonmill was another eye catcher, so ably handled, one had the impression the spaniel would do anything for him, and last but not least Adrian Slater’s dog Kipperidge Jasper Adrian has won this Open Test in the last two years and looked likely to win again for a hat trick
By lunch time from the body of the test, the top six dogs selected by the Judges, to everyone’s agreement were as follows:

Jon Bailey’s Ess dog FT Ch Nant-y-Bwla Ricky after the Final Awarded First
Adrian Slater’s Ess dog Kipperidge Jasper after the Final Awarded Second (by one point)
Chris Wadsworth’s Ess dog Spenlough Scott after the Final Awarded Third
Simon Tyer’s Cocker dog FT Ch Sandford Black Mamba Awarded Fourth and Best Cocker
Jack Davey’s Cocke Cadboll Zest after the Final placed Fifth Jon Bailey’s Ess dog Gowerby Mystique was withdrawn

The final

With the spaniels hunting in front and retrievers at heel behind this part or the test brought all the competitors and spectators together and basically tested the spaniels in hunting and steadiness while sitting out from the handlers as the retrievers raced past to the seen and unseen retrieves over two jumps. The spaniels then showed their ability in similar fashion before going off to a double retrieve from water.

This was a very successful exercise testing all dogs in a way they had not been tested in the body of the test.

The background, the organisation and the award ceremony are reported on elsewhere, sufficient for me to say thanks to Lord Daventry, Sponsors Masterfoods, The Kennel Club staff and members of the K C Working Gundog Sub. Committee led by David Patterson, the Coventry and District Gundog Society, the Judges, Competitors and all who helped so willingly.

Victor McDevitt




l-r: best cocker Tyrers’ ft Ch Sandford Black Mamba; winner, retriever, Coley’s Waterford Calibre; winner springer spaniel Bailey’s F Toy Nant-y-Bwla Ricky

Winner Mrs R J Coley’s lab d. Waterford Calibre clears the fence

The retriever judges with Derek Capel on the left

Retrievers second prize winner Sheik Mohammed Al-Thani’s lab d. Bengrave Michael Mols (handled by D K robertson) collects from water