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CLA game fair smashes records

The 50th Anniversary of the CLA Game Fair was held at Blenheim Palace by kind permission of the Duke of Marlborough.

If you haven’t been to the Game Fair then you should consider going next year. You will thoroughly enjoy yourself, there is something there for everyone. Hundreds of stands selling furniture, garden equipment, sporting equipment of every kind, farm machinery, clothing, jewellery, dog accessories, books, food and drink and many other things. There are exhibitions of horses working, both heavy and light, fishing displays, clay shooting, lots of gundog events, sheepdog demonstrations, cookery, archery, 4 x 4 course, falconry and much more, in fact the three days are packed with interesting events.

The Fair is held on the last weekend in July each year with next year’s at Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Leicestershire, July 24th-26th.

Spending most of the three days at the Gundogs, I still managed to buy boots and a jacket at less cost than at a shop, also visiting Hooked on Horses and Elegant Gardens before returning to watch my first love, Gundogs.

The Sporting Dog Pavilion was interesting with all the different breeds on show, owners keen to tell you about their particular dogs and their qualities.

The Scurries were great fun, dogs having to retrieve two dummies in the fastest time, a Novice event and an Open.

The Pick up, dogs requiring to pick 5 dummies, all hidden previously from their sight, was so much fun, 49 seconds being the fastest time on the Friday. Some of the handlers shouted themselves hoarse, their dog not taking the slightest bit of notice, one lady was delighted with her dog, telling friends how well it had hunted but in fact it was awful but the main thing was that she was pleased! Others were so efficient, stopping instantly on the whistle and taking hand directions.
The Scramble event meant that dog and handler had to complete a course, crossing a bridge, climbing a fence etc, with the dog being sent for various retrieves.

The Dog and Gun event meant that the handler shot some clays with the dog being sent for a dummy in between shots.

All of these competitions are against the clock with great prizes for the first three winners.
The Lurcher demonstrations were good, I like lurchers, usually such friendly dogs with great personalities.

The Working Dog Ring had various entertaining and interesting displays going on all day. From the Newfoundlands trained for draft work, to the Hearing dogs for deaf people and Canine Partners, both charities committed to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities and their lively demonstrations showed how trained dogs can act as efficient and safe assistants.


A new event was the Jubilee Working Competition for Gundogs with HPR’s on the Friday, Spaniels on the Saturday and Retrievers on the Sunday. I went along to watch the Hunt, Point, Retrievers and was impressed with their work, dogs entering water to retrieve a dummy keenly with not a single dog refusing the water. Sharon Pinkerton’s German Wirehaired Pointer, Ch. Freddy von Kappelhof, the breed record holder and the only GWP to win Best in Show at a Championship Show, had also a 1st in a Novice Field Trial and a 2nd in Open. Several of the other HPR’s had won Field Trial awards, extremely good work.

The Aigle Euro Challenge held on the Friday and judged by Mrs Robin Wise and Mr Graham Cox was exciting and very interesting. Imagine a long arena with a jump two thirds of the way along, carpeted with rough grass and weeds, a river running along its left hand border and Grandstands along the right hand, got the picture?

Now consider that there were 8 Teams of three dogs and handlers competing, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Hungary (for the first time), Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the U.K., so how good is that?

Each Team walked up the Arena in line accompanied by the Judges, the first retrieve being a mark ahead, (a dummy that the dog sees), each dog taking it in turn to have the thrown retrieve. The 2nd Test was another mark ahead but further away, with a blind, (a dummy hidden earlier), over the fence. The 3rd Test was a water retrieve for the first dog followed by a blind for the second dog, placed in reeds very near the river which made it difficult as the dog wanted to enter water, each dog in turn retrieving the mark or the blind.

The Teams then walked up in line with their dogs at heel, leaving them to sit and stay whilst the handlers climbed over the fence then called their dogs over.

The Captain of the Team then had to choose which dog retrieved one of three dummies, a mark and two blinds, all over the fence, some more difficult than others. This showed just how well the Captain knew his Team’s strengths and weaknesses.


Unfortunately there were a few failures which would stop the team from winning particularly Italy with Stefano Martinoli gaining 94/100, Fettarappa Francesc 91 but Laura Lazzaretto only 69, a shame but just one of those things, Laura’s dog just wouldn’t listen to her whistle.
Switzerland’s Werner Haag with Golden Retriever bitch A Blizzard Op De Bartlet got the most marks of the whole Challenge with 95/100, well done Werner!

The U.K. Team won with a score of 92 for each dog, what a coincidence. Sara Gadd, Captain, with FTCh. Mansengreen Diesel of Birdsgreen, Jennie Hankey with Ardmuir Mouse Fair and Mike Tallamy with Brindlebay Butler, all Labradors.

2nd Germany, Captained by Gereon Ting. Evaline Schlosser with Golden Ret. Stonehunter Dartmore Conner, Harald Brunet with Golden Ret. Mighty Duck’s Oden and Rainer Scesny with Lab. Glenoak Siskin.

3rd Austria, Helene Leimer, Captain, with Golden Ret. Holway Monty Pass, Ruth Hochstatter with Lab. Fame vom Keien Fenn.

Unfortunately France had to withdraw at the last minute as one of their handlers was ill and they couldn’t find a substitute, what a shame.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this Euro Challenge as it was only four years ago that I Captained the U.K. Team to victory but then we had to have three different kinds of Retrievers and a Spaniel, it was fun!

Saturday saw the start of the Seeland International Team Competition, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, with the Spaniels running in the mornings and the Retrievers in the afternoons.
This is always a very keenly contested event, each year the 4 countries vie with each other. England have won 27 times, Scotland and Ireland 7 times each and regretfully Wales not yet, although they have won the Spaniel Team Prize several times and the Retriever Team Prize at least once and have won Top Spaniel overall and Top Retriever (I won it with Gunstock Matador in 1983).

The Spaniels, all English Springers except for a Cocker running for England were Judged by Roger Tozer and Jim McConnell.

Of course, great emphasis was given to hunting with 20 marks available, dogs from two different countries were paired. They hunted up the Arena until the Judges told them to stop. Then a dummy was thrown out to be retrieved by the dog nominated, followed by a pigeon flushed from a pile of brashings which was shot at, (only a blank shot), so that the dogs could sit quietly and watch it away. Hunting on, a dummy was thrown into the water, extremely welcome with the really hot weather, followed by a mark behind but a dog was sent first for a blind ahead over the fence. I loved to watch an Irish dog, Tim Crothers’s Rosebay Donna, who jumped the fence as the dummy fell out of her mouth, landed the other side and reached between the rails to pick it rather than jump again in that heat, well thought out!

Simon Tyers with Cocker Spaniel dog FTCh. Timsgarry Simpson for England went extremely well with a score of 91/100, 59 for hunting out of 60.

The Retrievers, Judged by John Castle and John Lees, started in the afternoon with the same scenario, 2 dogs and handlers walking up the Arena but this time the dogs walked at heel, 20 marks being available for good heeling.

The Tests were difficult, not as difficult as some had been in the past as the Arena was smaller but the emphasis was put on ‘tricky’ and they were. Marks thrown ahead but a blind required from behind. A water test with the dummy thrown on the far river bank followed by a blind only a short distance from the entry point to the water but hidden in the reeds on the near side, dogs always wanting to enter the water again.

It was a pleasure to watch the control that the handlers had over the dogs, when a whistle was blown the dog sat instantly and very few dogs turned left when a handlers arm was moved to the right.

David Latham’s Lab. Mediterian Blue showed everyone how it should be done by scoring a total of 96/100, not to be beaten although three dogs later gained 95 which required a run off, but I’m jumping the gun, that all happened on Sunday afternoon.

Scotland’s dogs were all going well as were those of Ireland so competition was tight as the day drew to a close, it all depended on the last dogs for each country.

Sunday morning the Spaniels ran again, a sensational run for England’s Adrian Slater with Kipperidge Wanda giving him a total of 98 points, incredible!

Jim Clark for Scotland with Clarburgh Megan of Bishwell gained a very creditable 94, followed by Eddie Scott’s FTCh. Broomfield Rosie also 94. Irelands Willie Edgar with Shotgun Robb scored 97 and Mike Walsh’s FTCh. Butlerstown Buddy 94.

Three Spaniels had a run off for Best Hunting Spaniel, 2 from Ireland and 1 from Scotland which seemed to favour Billy Leonard with Buccleugh Amber for Scotland but we would have to wait and see.


In the afternoon the competition was hotting up, great cheers from the hundreds of spectators greeted every good retrieve and there certainly were some good ones.

Three dogs gained the same score of 95 and were taken for a run off consisting of a long mark over the fence. All three dogs made a really good retrieve with perhaps the best being from Mrs Reid’s FTCh. Hillus Clyde handled by Billie Steel Jnr. straight out and back at speed with a perfect mark.

Everyone was on tenterhooks waiting for the results with the scoreboard not giving the final few dogs marks so no-one knew who had won.

His Grace the Duke of Marlborough kindly arrived to present the prizes which were as follows:-
Team Prizes 1st Scotland 909; 2nd Ireland 899; 3rd England 898, all very close.
Best Team of Spaniels –

Scotland 453; Best Spaniel Adrian Slater’s Kipperidge Wanda for England. Best Hunting Spaniel Billy Leonard’s Buccleugh Amber for Scotland.

Best Team of Retrievers – England 463; Best Retriever David Latham’s FTCh. Mediterian Blue for England; Best Marking Retriever Jamie Bettinson’s FTCh. Lavenghyl Peacock for Wales.

So ended a super weekend, see you at Belvoir next year?

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