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Working dogs have their day at the Midland Game Fair

Terrier Champion of Champions. Winner - Sian Beckinsale with Tank. Reserve - Andrew Meek with Sam. Also pictured (back l to r): Andrew Pilkington, Tracey Allen (Countryman's Weekly), Dave Finley and Paul Travers (judges)


Canine achievement at the highest level was in evidence at the Midland Game Fair at Weston Park. Top trainers entertained many thousands of visitors, demonstrating their exceptional abilities in a range of disciplines. The Working Dog Arena, sponsored by Autarky, included working retrievers, spaniels, HPR, and sight hounds, along with star shepherdess Katy Cropper, who made her final arena appearance at this year’s show.

The Midland hosted the sixth County Group National Gundog Finals, organised by the Game Conservancy Trust. The regional qualifiers for this event had attracted over 1000 entries, and as such the four finals were hotly contested. Special Puppy winner was Mr D Capel with Flashmount Pike (Labrador), and the Special Open title went to Birdstone Cherry Of Avonford (Labrador), owned and handled Mrs C E Winfield. Sunday’s finals were all about new talent, and the Novice Dog/Novice Handler final (neither dog or handler having ever won an award, including COM, in any test or Field Trial) was won by Harvest Moon Magic (Labrador), owned and handled by Mrs Patricia Dixon. The Novice final (dog not having won 1st in Novice, 1st-3rd in tests above Novice, or any award including COM in Field Trials) had the highest entry, and Chris Marchant handled Castleman’s Warhead (Golden Retriever) to the top spot.

The range of "have-a-go" gundog events was truly exceptional, with competitions encompassing all ages and levels of ability. Overall winner of the BASC Chudley’s Challenge, out of over 400 competitors, was Fred Tomkinson. The Vitalin Gundog Scurries attracted a phenomenal 850 entries. New for this year was the "Pot Black" gundog snooker, and as ever the most fiercely contested event was the Dog & Gun, with Rob Lawty and Max taking the top spot. Winner of the Victor Lodorum was Bill Williams with Thorn.

Terriers and lurchers had their own arena, and entries were of a particularly high standard. Winning dogs from over 120 qualifying shows came to compete for the title "Champion of Champions". Both winners came from Wales, with Michael Roberts from Caernarfon taking the lurcher title with Lady, a 2 year old Whippet/Greyhound/Deerhound. Taking top honours in the terriers was a two year old Patterdale dog named Tank, owned by Sian Beckinsale from Bridgend. Lurcher field events included open racing, long jump and obedience competitions on Saturday, demonstrating the variety of skills of a working lurcher. The organisers were delighted by the high quality turnout, with particularly strong support from the West Country contingent. The racing championships on Sunday were won by M Palmer with Cruise.

Organisers Countryman Fairs are building upon the success of the Midland Game Fair for their forthcoming events in 2005, including the Southern Counties Game Fair which will be a working dog spectacular. For more information, and full results from the Midland Game Fair, visit