England wins in the run off
THE JEEP International Team Competition between England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales always attracts huge crowds, and it was with a full grandstand that the first four handlers and their Spaniels came out to face their audience on Saturday morning.
One from each country prepared to walk forward with their judges, Alec Coutts (Scotland) and Malcolm Taylor (England). the arena was divided into sections, starting with rough grass with a few Christmas trees, a fence, then an area of stubble turnips, another fence, a second area of rough grass surrounding a pond and then a further area beyond of rough grass and thistles.
Commencing with a display of some of the best hunting spaniels in the UK searching every foot of the cover, flushing pigeons saluted with shots from shotguns loaded with blanks, the little dogs were asked to retrieve various canvas dummies either thrown ahead over a fence, hidden behind as a blind, or thrown into the water out of sight, attracting attention only by the splash.
The scent was abysmal, particularly in the turnips, but this just showed the hunting ability of the individual, some making a better job of their retrieving than others, five retrieves earning a total of 10 marks each, with a total of 50 for hunting - this being the most important job for a Spaniel.
In the afternoon, it was the turn of the retrievers in the brilliant sunshine, with judges Jim Blair (Ireland) and Roger Tozer (Wales), one dog from each country as before, every dog a Labrador which must have been disappointing for Golden, Flatcoated and Chesapeake Bay Retriever enthusiasts, but didnt they work well, giving a display of marking and handling seldom seen elsewhere except in Field Trials which dont have the audiences to appreciate the clever work.
The retrieves were difficult, to say the least, long, long marks, jumps over a high fence into a dark wood, water retrieves from a good distance away, a simulated drive with pigeons flying about saluted with blank shots and beaters shouting, none of which fazed the dogs in the slightest but the retrieve of a blind the whole length of the arena over two fences and through the pool was an exceptionally difficult one, with the dogs having to be pushed back by the handlers with commands and whistling, one poor handler from Ireland unfortunately failing, giving them a 0 on the scoreboard.
Englands captain, John Halstead, was the first to go which made his task harder, not knowing what to expect, however FT Ch drakeshead Treacle worked well to gain 85 out of 100 marks, Damian Newmans FT Ch Brookbird Daniel coming close with 82.
The even more scorching second day commenced with spaniels again in the morning, Willie Edgars Iced Prince (I bet he wished he was), going really well to gain an 87 for Ireland, as had Mark Stewarts Kristys Moor also for Ireland but Dave Lisetts Edwardiana Tweed for Scotland, gained 88 points, was that going to be enough to win him the top spaniel prize? At the end of the morning, although there was a score of 83, Dave could relax for the rest of the day, knowing that he had won.
The pigeons caused some problems, as they were flushed by the spaniels they tended to be somewhat tame and land on fences or even the grandstand. In fact, I saw one that landed on a spectators knee!
On the afternoon tension was high, would Ireland be able to catch Englands score and with Scotland only a little behind, could they win? It all depended on the last few Retrievers.
Although it remained boiling hot, the scent seemed a little improved as the last few dogs went through. Irelands young Ashley Donnan with Int FT Ch Glenloch Trojan, only a little over three-years-old, went like a bomb to get a score of 89, a lovely fast dog with loads of sense and ability, could he be beaten? Englands Endacott Shelf, handled by Andy Latham, got full marks for his first three tests, dropped only two on the fourth, then made only 14 out of 20 on the fifth, could he do it? The final long retrieve the length of the arena was the hardest but he only lost three marks, at tie! There had to be a run-off. The judges set a straight forward long marked retrieve over a fence, done to perfection by Endacott Shelf with a little struggle by Glenloch Trojan, Shelf had won. Now came the prize giving.
Lord David Lascelles had very kindly consented to present the beautiful prizes, which went to: 1st England with 799 points; 2nd Ireland with 792; 3rd Scotland with 789 (how close can you get?); 4th Wales 743. Best Spaniel team, Scotland; Best Retriever team, England ; Top Spaniel, Dave Lisetts Edwardiana Tweed (Scotland); Top Retriever, Andy Lathoms Endacott Shelf (England). Best dog of either breed; Endacott Shelf. Best hunting spaniel; Willie Edgars Iced Prince (Ireland). Best marking retriever Alan Reess Morayglen Tinker (Wales).
Roy Baker of sponsors Jeep Chrysler was thanked by the hard working chief steward, Phil Wagland, as was the long suffering arena party who had worked in the heat for three days.
all members of the United Retriever Club and Northern golden Retreive Assocaition. So ended another great international, now its a long wait before Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire at the end of July 2004.
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