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The CLA Game Fair:
The International challenge trophy takes the high road!

The Jeep International Jeep Competition: spaniel jumping fence
is Michael Hurley’s Stomporg of Wenvoe - Wales

In A veritable fest and festival of gundog work at the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire the prestigious Jeep International Team Competition was won by the Scottish Team after two days of quality work from spaniels and retrievers alike.

But on a personal note the event for me was wonderful! On the first day, Friday, July 23rd, Our Team from Wales of which I was Captain, won the Aigle Euro Challenge, we were thrilled. Each Team had to consist of three retrievers and one hunting dog, ours was a Labrador, Vikki Stanley with Settador Drummer, a Golden Retriever, Trevor Gibson with Pebbletoft Jazz, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Jason Mayhew with Arnac Bay Sage and an English Springer Spaniel, Ron Jones with Kenmillto Hoopoe.

Bristol and West Working Gundog Society went first, we were on second and Ron Jones who was travelling down that morning hadn’t appeared, oh dear, we were on tenterhooks but just in time he appeared having been held up by an accident on the road ahead. The course consisted of a long arena beside the river, with two wooden jumps across and rough grass and weeds, sometimes knee high. The judges, Philip Wagland and Eddie Hales asked Ron to commence hunting his spaniel, eventually reaching some brashings where he flushed a pigeon which flew away with a shot fired at it, Hoopoe sitting to shot and remaining nicely steady, a dummy was then thrown over a fence which he retrieved well, hunted on then retrieved from the river, followed by an unseen back down the Arena and over another fence, he then retired to watch the retrievers strut their stuff!!

Each dog was asked to retrieve a long marked dummy with shot over both fences but the snag was that the dummy was thrown with a background of the hospitality tent and hardly any dog during the whole day managed to mark it but all our team completed the exercise with varying success. Next came a blind back over a fence with a mark into the river, Jazz getting a mark of 19 out of twenty with Sage only I point behind. There followed a simulated drive with dummies thrown behind the dogs and Hoopoe hunting up towards them, two pigeons flushed over the dogs but no one moved, just observed closely.

On the following three retrieves I was allowed to nominate which dog fetched which dummy and again Jazz and Sage achieved 19, Drummer 16. Hoopoe hunted and retrieved a blind back into the corner of the Arena and it was all over, all the dogs had gone well, Hoopoe’s total 68, Drummer’s 61, Jazz’s 71 and Sage’s 63, 263 altogether, I was proud of them, now we had to wait, we already knew that Bristol and West, who had a German Shorthaired Pointer as their hunting dog, had scored a total of 260 so we were in front of them.

Germany were next with a Flatcoated Retriever instead of a Chessie and totalled 248, then Hampshire Gundog Society in the afternoon with another GSP hunting and a Flatcoat who went beautifully to score 17, 18, 19, 19, well done, their total was 246, the last team was from the Netherlands with a Vizsla as their hunting dog, an International Champion what‚s more but he only got 10 out of 20 for his hunting and they totalled 258, we had won!!

The team members were presented with Waterproof Jackets and lovely glass Trophies by Area Manager Andrew Spink on behalf of sponsors Aigle, second was Bristol and West, third The Netherlands. Individual Prizes - Top Hunting Dog ESS Devekish Dream, owned by Wesley Hann from Germany. Top Labrador Robin Watson’s F.T.Ch. Whitmill Eclipse of Tibea from Bristol and West. Top Golden and top overall retriever Gerda Companjen-Juffer’s Lowly Nabucco from The Netherlands. Top Flatcoat/Chessie Rob Willetts’s Mister Mustard Seed from Hampshire Gundog.

Saturday and Sunday were the days for the Jeep International Team Competition which proved to be tremendously exciting. In the past England had won far more Internationals than anyone else with Ireland and Scotland fighting hard to beat them but still well behind in the number of victories, Wales, unfortunately, having yet to achieve a win.

The Game Fair had last been held at Blenheim in 2000 with England scoring an emphatic victory, how would it go for them this time? Could Captain Hugh Paterson win for Scotland?

Maybe Ireland’s Captain Brendan Mack might this time win? Or could Captain John Blackburn make it a first time success for Wales? England’s Captain John Halstead must be very confident of victory again.

The spaniels, all English Springers, Judged by Edward Martin and Aiden Patterson, made the Arena come to life with their superb hunting, some of the best dogs in the U.K. were a delight to watch and the large stand was packed to capacity as they hunted in pairs, one from each country in sequence, a short blind behind being required first followed by a mark into the river with a shot as they were returning with the dummy and a mark over the fence, the dogs stopping to watch the fall then returning to their handlers to deliver the first retrieve before being sent for the second. More hunting and a flush of a pigeon, occasionally a dog moving as the pigeon flew away which of course, cost them points. A marked dummy thrown ahead followed with a blind behind over a fence.

England’s Jonathan Bailey with FT Ch. Nant-y-bwla Ricky achieved a remarkable 93 out of 100 for his run, followed closely by Scotland’s David Lisett with FT Ch. Annickview Anna with 90 and Gordon Robertson’s Broomfield Satyr, also for Scotland, set the Arena alight by getting 47 out of 50 for his hunting, a great pleasure to watch.

In the afternoon it was the turn of the Retrievers, all Labradors with the exception of Malcolm Stringer’s Golden Retriever Clancallum Tamdhu, for England. The distances were longer than for the spaniels, the most difficult being a blind saluted with a shot across the river onto the far bank, with a blind the whole length of the Arena, jumping the two fences, not easy either, long marks into the reeds at the river side and another dummy into the river not seeming to cause many problems.
Garry Youngson’s Gusty Garry for Scotland gained a full mark of 20 for a double retrieve as did Paul Clark’s Powenargrof Douglas running alongside him for Wales but there were not many achieving maximums and unfortunately the Golden, Clancallum Tamdhu struggled on a double retrieve and was awarded a zero by the judges, Mike Tallamy and Roger Phillips.

Sunday dawned cloudy and not too hot, the Spaniels enjoying the light breeze as they worked. Poor Richard Heseltine with Porthtywyn Sugar Ray Lenard, who had never competed in a big competition before had to run at the last minute as John Edwards pulled out his dog.

Lenard was one of those dogs that spins as he goes out so missed seeing some of the marked dummies and lost a lot of marks for Wales, we all felt for him, what hard luck. It was certainly Scotland’s Spaniel Team going ahead with some wonderful work, all their scores being in the 80s except for David Lisett’s super 90.

In the afternoon the retrievers started again. Annette Clark for England with Pointraire Cromwell doing some great work making a score of 93, could it be beaten? Were England going to win again? It seemed to be between Scotland and England with each Team having one more run to go.

Billy Steel, a man who had appeared in many Internationals as the Scottish Team’s anchorman was on last for Scotland and made 79, a good score, he was running against Ireland’s James Toal with Jazz Prince James who was down to 61, then came the last couple, Jane Coley with Waterford Calibre, always a great danger, for England and John Derrick’s FT Ch. Mynyddmaen Rhos Du for Wales. Jane’s Labrador went like a dream, was she going to beat top Retriever Pointraire Cromwell? Her points were 20/20, 28/30, then, catastrophe, Calibre jumped out of the arena into the hospitality area whilst searching for a blind and dropped to 14/20 although obtaining full 30/30 on the last double, a total of 92, such hard luck. Wales’s John Derrick got a respectable score of 83.

So it was Scotland’s day, 1st with 837, 2nd England 830, 3rd Ireland 745, 4th Wales 731 and they hadn’t finished yet! Scotland and England both got a score of 406 for their Retriever Teams so there was a run off between Garry Youngson with Gusty Garry for Scotland and Jane Coley with Waterford Calibre for England, both required to collect a long marked retrieve to the other end of the arena, jumping the two fences on the way. Gusty Garry went straight to the dummy and came back fast, Waterford Calibre missed his mark and had to be handled so Scotland also won the Retriever Tests.

Their score of 431 was already the highest Team Spaniel marks so they wiped the board clean, well done Scotland. The highest score for Top Spaniel was Jon Bailey’s FT Ch.Nant-y-bwla Ricky with 93 tying with Annette Clark’s Top Retriever Pointraire Cromwell, both for England, so it was decided that they would have the Trophy for six months each. Best Hunting Spaniel was Gordon Robertson‚s Broomfield Satyr for Scotland. Best marking Retriever was Jane Coley’s Waterford Calibre. The Duke of Marlborough kindly presented the prizes.

So ended a superb three days of excellent gundog work enjoyed by many, we look forward to next year’s CLAGame Fair which will be at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire 22nd - 24th July.

Aigle Euro Challenge winning team was Wales (l-r): Jason Mayhew,
Vikki Stanley, Gaynor Bailey (Captain), Trevor Gibson and Ron Jones (kneeling)