Gundogs have the chance to prove themselves!
Guns Choice - Shipden Lars Bussholm on his water retrieve
The thirty-eighth Show Spaniels Field Day to be run by the Midland English Springer Spaniel Society, with support from the English Springer Spaniel Society and the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club was held on Saturday 18th October 2003 a day which dawned dry, with a heavy morning mist, clearing to give a crisp, bright day, with sufficient wind to give good scenting conditions.
This was the 23rd such event to be held at the Barholm Estate at Stamford. This year the tenancy of the shoot has passed to Mr John Cleeve who kindly allowed the day to be run once again on the same land, and mentioned at the end of the day that he was happy to allow the Society to return next year if they so wished.
I am sure that the society were disappointed in this years entry, with just four entered in the Novice Dog Tests, and eight in the Novice Bitch, and not all of these attended. The Advanced Test was slightly better with twelve entered but on the day only eight ran. There was a good entry of nineteen for the Show Gundog Working Certificate however, but even here only fourteen actually ran. This is not good for the Show Spaniels, better support is needed in the future, the Midland English Springer Society put an enormous amount of work in providing this day and to see entries reducing to this extent must be very frustrating to their hard working Committee.
l-r Paul Rawlings, Mark Clifford, Richard Witt, John Cleeve, Jack Guy, Martin Trollope-Bellew
Mr Martin Trollope-Bellew who has hosted this day for many years, was one of the team of Guns this year, the others being the new tenant Mr John Cleeve and his Gamekeeper Richard Witt, who hardly missed a bird to provide a good supply of game for the Show Gundog Working Certificate in the morning. The Judges, Paul Rawlings and Mark Clifford should know exactly what is required for this test as Mr Rawlings is the Chairman and Mark a member of the Working Party, who looked into the changes needed to the SGWC and is now in the throes of organising the new, non competitive K.C. Working Gundog Certificate. Mr Jeremy Organ, the second judge elect, was unable to attend as his wife was unwell, so Mark was drafted in to assist at the last minute. To complete the team of high profile people attending, Mrs Anne Greeves (K.C. Field Trials Manager) came along in the afternoon to watch the Advanced Test (and to provide some excellent homemade shortbread to all and sundry!)
The judges decided to run the dogs in the qualifier singly; and to ensure that the pheasants were brought to the guns, they had a number of people from the gallery in a beating line across the field of beet, and placed stops strategically to ensure that few escaped into neighbouring fields. We still chased the birds around these large fields, but the dogs all gave a good display of hunting and at the end of the runs there were a number of pheasants flushed, in particular by the winner of the Best Performance of the Day, Carolyn Muirheads ESS Shipden Harvest Moon, who flushed, and was steady to, a large number of birds ,many of which were shot and were left for retrieves later in the day for those dogs who were unlucky and did not have game shot for them. Her son followed her in and Shipden Lars Bussholm (ESS) covered a lot of ground without a find, finally putting up a bird which escaped. I also saw a very nice, controlled hunt by Alanea Mercedes (ESS), he flushed a rabbit but although shot at, the animal made it to its burrow. The young WSS Isfryn Ghost Swift, impressed with her style and pace, she was one of many who flushed but did not get a retrieve at this stage.
I was lucky enough to be in the beating line and saw each dog run. Some excellent hunting was displayed but unfortunately many of these were reluctant to retrieve their birds and thus were excused from further testing. The lone Sussex Spaniel Sh.Ch. Waldmeister Martell, impressed with a very nice hunt and flush, also the three Field Spaniels owned and handled by Shula Shipton hunted with great enthusiasm and style, each flushing a bird or rabbit., however all of these failed on their retrieve a shame. When all dogs had completed their runs the birds shot earlier were used for retrieves for those who had produced game during their hunt up. As a few more retrieves were required we adjourned to the duck pond and sufficient ducks were shot for the remaining dogs. By this time the judges had just four dogs to take forward for the required water retrieve. For this dummies were used and all completed the retrieve to the Judges satisfaction and all four were awarded their Show Gundog Working Certificate.
These were Carolyn Muirheads ESS Shipden Harvest Moon and her son Shipden Lars Bussholm, Sue Longs Alanea Mercedes (ESS) who was the winner of Best Novice Overall last year, and Tina Smiths young homebred WSS Isfryn Ghost Swift, this is Tinas first homebred qualifier, the first of many I feel sure.
Whilst the SGWC was taking place, Mr Jack Guy was judging the Novice Tests. He set a simple test for the dogs comprising a 45 yard walk to heel, sit and stay, then a recall to the handler. A simple seen retrieve followed on the edge of some light cover, immediately followed by a hunt up into the wind to find a blind retrieve in a marked area. Alec Geddes, who was later to assist in judging the Advanced Test when Mark Clifford had to leave early, had a good day winning the Novice Bitch Test and Best Novice Overall with his homebred ESS Debanza Heilan Dancer. Second and third were Sue Long and Malcolm Leemings ESS Tryhard Rio De Janeiro and Tryhard Enchanting Tri and fourth was Monks Trikala Bring me Sunshine of Bywold. In the Dog Tests it was a win for Sue Long and Malcolm Leemings ESS Tryhard Yorkshire Gold and they also gained third place with their Tryhard Doctor Devious, the 2nd place being taken by the lone WSS in the Novice Tests, Paul Steadmans Red of Brock.
After lunch the Advanced Test judged by Paul Rawlings and Alec Geddes was run in the field of beet. The dogs were run in pairs, beginning with a hunt up, then a shot was fired back and the blind retrieve was of fresh rabbit shot the day before. Each dog had to wait quietly whilst its partner did its retrieve, then hunted again before doing its own retrieve. The test ended with a further short hunt.
Finally the judges called up two dogs to run off, these were the American Cocker and Chris Pages Clumber Micklemess Just George who managed to find one of the elusive pheasants at the beginning of his run and was steady to it, being awarded the Best Clumber Cup at the final awards.
At the end of the day the judges felt that they could only award three places, these were. 1st Bill Ironsides American Cocker Combleywood Parti Piece at Belcrum, Poppy must have a record that is second to none, having won the Advanced Test for the last five consecutive years and also taking Best Performance of the Day on three occasions. 2nd Chris Pages Clumber Micklemess Just George and third Julie Revills (WSS) Julita Rustic Ramble who was last years Best Qualifier.
The presentations were made by the new tenant, John Cleeve as previously noted in the text, with Carolyn Muirhead being delighted to receive the prestigious F Warner Hill Challenge Trophy for Best Performance of the Day with her ESS Shipden Harvest Moon from the Show Gundog Working Test, plus the Arcadia Tray for the Best ESS to gain the SGWC, and the Bronhope Dual Purpose Cup for the Best Performance by an ESS. Alec Geddes received the Huelyn Trophy for the Best Novice ESS with his Debanza Heilan Dancer. Julie Revill was awarded the Leacroft Challenge Trophy for the Best Performance by a WSS, with her homebred Julita Rustic Ramble, and Tina Smith received the Tarbay Cup for the Best WSS in the SGWC. An ecstatic Carolyn Muirhead was awarded the coveted Majeba Tankard for the Guns Choice with the son of her Best Performance of the Day winner ESS Shipden Lars Bussholm Chris Pages Clumber Micklemess Just George gained the Rush Challenge Trophy for the Best Performance by a Clumber Spaniel.
I discovered afterwards that Carolyn has quite a record for qualifying her dogs. I understand that she won Best Performance of the Day and Guns Choice in 1996 with Waterton Lucy who is in fact the Dam of this years Best Performance of the Day. Carolyn also qualified two Champions in Field Trials in 1970 and has since gained the SGWC with a further three Field Spaniels, one Sussex Spaniel and around 12 ESS quite a list!
Margaret Backhouse thanked John Cleeve for his hospitality and he told the Society that he will be happy to see the Show Spaniels back next year, which is very pleasing. All those who work their dogs know that without landowners being willing to accommodate us, we would not have the opportunity to test our dogs on the real thing. Thanks were also given to the Gamekeeper, Guns, Stewards and various helpers, not forgetting the Societys hard working Secretary Kay Woodward who no doubt is already organising next years Show Spaniels Field Day.
Lets hope that there will be many more to come along and enjoy this day provided by this society, which is always a well run day, in good company and a delight to watch some good dog work from our show spaniels.