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Great sportsmanship at Highland finals
Pedigree Highland Final 2008, Scottish Game Conservancy Fair,
Scone Palace, Perth.
Saturday 5th July 2008

It is always a great pleasure to travel up to Perth for our only Scottish based competition. But this year it was made a little more difficult because the Scottish Game Conservancy Fair clashed with the Royal Show which meant that I had to ask my good friend Graham Partridge to step in and understudy me for 2 days at the Royal Show.

Good sportmanshipThere are several requirements for a judge at any of our major events, firstly of course they must be very skilled at judging and course designing, must have respect from the competitors in the agility community and of course must be easy to get on with. And our judge this year, Dave Deaville, ticked all of those boxes admirably. We had a good journey up on the Friday and as usual we were meeting Anne McBride and the ring party for dinner in the evening at one of these trendy little bistro restaurants. We had a great night again, really good company for the evening, but they may have been good at fish and continental meals BUT I’m definitely going to have to find somewhere that does a decent Aberdeen Angus steak next year because they definitely didn’t sell it what they did sell was a bit tough!

We were lucky with the weather. We woke up to brilliant sunshine on the Saturday and we were going to be lucky and have no rain for our final. It’s a really wonderful show and it is very, very, very game orientated, definitely not a townie’s show. Some really lovely people run it and it just gets more and more popular year after year. The first event of the day was the warm up event and we were first in the arena and we had a good audience for it but a little on the thin side as the crowds were just arriving at that point.

We had some really cracking dogs qualified for the final this year and the competition was going to be fierce for both our events but as usual for the invitation I’m sure that some of the handlers held it back a little bit and I’m not going to say training but certainly having a controlled round was more important than going to the win. But, of course, that never applies to the winner of the warm up Nigel Staines where it was a case of light the blue touch paper and stand back. But, he only just about beat Donna Kerse who finished second and Louise Raine who came in third with her agility champion dog.

Huge crowd

Nigel StainesThe final was held a little earlier this year at 1pm and certainly no one was holding themselves back for this. We had an enormous crowd standing about eight deep in the arena and they really did play an active vocal part in this final. And when Sarah Stokoe going last but one put in her winning time of 36.41 they let out a huge roar of approval. Congratulations also to Jacquie Tarn and Kenny Spottiswoode second and third respectively and Louise Raine in fourth place who made it a family affair as she is Jacqui’s daughter. I will just mention that Doris Stokoe qualified at the Royal on this day and on the day after Sarah was competing at the Royal Show and she also qualified for Olympia. Just need Dad Norman to do it now to make it a family final!

I’m indebted to the ring party who help me year in and year out. It would not be possible to do it without their assistance. Harry Greig, Veronica & Graham Scott, Val Marrian, Jean Fotheringham, Alex & Morag, and finally Anne McBride who manages the ring party. Thank you so much all of you. And very finally thanks to our judge Dave Deaville, nice courses, well judged and good company and it is just a shame that he forgot to bring me some cheese! (He is a master cheese maker after all) but maybe the fact that we drove the hundreds of miles back to England in the pouring rain with defective windscreen wipers might have affected his memory!

Judges Report
by Dave Deaville

It was an honour to be invited to judge this years Highland final, made all the more special by my first visit to Scone palace, the beautiful setting for this event.

The morning warm up competition produced eleven clears from the 25 finalists with last years winner, Nigel Staines & Zico just pipping Donna Kerse to win.

The afternoon final was run in perfect conditions, with a very large crowd making for a superb atmosphere around the arena.

Running fourth, Louise Raine had a lovely run for the first of eleven clears. Further clears by Diane Besford & Toni Lock fell just short of Louise’s time.

There were three handlers who had qualified two dogs for this year’s final and remarkably all six of their dogs went clear. John McEwan’s pair and the first runs for Kenny Spottiswoode & Nigel Staines however were also unable to better the time set by Louise.

18th to go was Nigel & Zico, the hot favourite again, desperate to retain their title. Despite a great effort, it was not to be this year as their clear could only put them into second place.
Next on the line was Kenny Spottiswood who produced an excellent hard working run to take the lead. Allan Wright did beat this time, but unfortunately 5 faults put him out of contention.
With the atmosphere really buzzing around the packed ring Jacqui Tarn put in a great performance to shave ? second off Kenny’s time. Could any of the last four dogs challenge the new leader?

The penultimate dog was run by Sarah Stokoe. Now this was a special weekend for the Stokoe family. With mum Doris competing at Stoneleigh and dad Norman having already picked up 5 faults earlier in this final, what could Sarah do? The answer was to produce a superb and faultless run, finishing to thunderous applause and deservedly taking first place and this year’s title.

My thanks go to Dave Ray for the invitation to judge this years final and also to the ring party, whose hard work was very much appreciated.

Congratulations once again to Sarah for her excellent run and well deserved win.

1 Sarah Stokoe Highfield High Jinx BC 36.417 C
2 Jacqui Tarn Waggerland Wotta Kracker BC 37.245 C
3 Kenny Spottiswoode Bannetstane Nike Just Do It BC 37.457 C
4 Louise Raine Ag Ch Borderstorm No Regrets BC 38.006 C
5 Nigel Staines Dragonheart Dark Destroyer AWK 38.151 C
6 Diane Besford Wookie Wierdstone WSD 39.024 C
7 Kenny Spottiswoode Kree Mon Kale WSD 39.632 C
8 Nigel Staines Morgans Assassin AWK 39.77 C
9 Toni Lock Capehope Aye Spy BC 40.16 C
10 John McEwan Middletons Magic Mist WSD 40.199 C