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Good view for England at Belvoir!
CLA Game Fair International report by Gaynor Bailey

Photo by Terry Bailey
The victorious English Team

For the first time the CLA Game Fair was held this year at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, by kind permission of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland. Belvoir means ‘beautiful view’ which gives you some idea of the setting for this extremely prestigious Game Fair, the only three day event of its kind held in England.

The extensive Gundog Competitions, all organised by a Gundog Committee, chaired by Steve Crookes, gave a plethora of events for both novice and open handlers with Scurries, Scrambles, Pick-ups, Dog and Gun, BASC Double Bull-Dog, Gundog Speed Trap, Obstacle Courses etc., but the two big Events were The Aigle World Challenge and The Jeep International.

The Aigle World Challenge took place on the first day, Friday, Judged by Andrea Standertskjold from Finland and Mick Newsam, England. 6 Teams were competing, The United Kingdom - Captain Gaynor Bailey, Austria - Captain Helene Leimer, Germany - Captain Gunda-Inken Muhl, Sweden - Captain Lars Johnsson, Switzerland - Captain Crista Nichus and The Netherlands - Captain Gerda Companjen. Each Team had to run a Labrador, a Golden Retriever and one of the other Retriever breeds, three Teams choosing Chesapeake Bay and three Flatcoated.

A very tricky course had been set by Phil Wagland, fair but difficult, dogs sometimes struggling to mark in the thick long grass, particularly after having jumped two fences but most succeeded extremely well. The marks were out of a total of 160, being 20 for each of eight retrieves overall.

The U.K. Team went first which was really only fair and they walked up the course together each being sent by the Judges in turn for their retrieves. Phil Parkins with Labrador F.T. Ch. Fernshot Comet was disappointed to only obtain 11 marks out of 20 for his first fairly easy retrieve over just one fence but told me afterwards that he had been practising at home over two fences so his dog went much too far. Mind you he gained four twenties later as his dog went better and better.
Trevor Gibson’s Golden Retriever Pebbletoft Jazz who ran last year in my Welsh Team when we won this event, got a creditable 18 and Andy Kinta’s Chesapeake Bay Retriever Lateshift Moon Charisma got 17.

Three Labradors from Austria, Switzerland and The Netherlands respectively, gained 20s but then the scene changed with much harder retrieves, marks into cover and blinds (previously hidden dummies), over two fences behind. A simulated drive was held in the afternoon with beaters throwing dummies around and pigeons released to fly away saluted by blank gunfire. Another temptation for the dogs was a dummy covered with a rabbit skin drawn forward in leaps and bounds in front of the line but the hard part was at the end when each Team was told that there would be three retrieves over fences and three into the Lake, the Captains to choose which dog went for which retrieve. Germany and Austria both unfortunately were given zeros for failing on two of these retrieves, Phil Parkins for the U.K. gained a massive 20 and 18 as did Hans Richter with Labrador Conovers Run for Glory for Sweden.

Now came the wait to find out who had won, could it be the U.K.? But no, The Netherlands were a very creditable 1st with 424 points and deserved it, with their Captain Gerda Companjen’s Golden Retriever Lowly Nabucco winning Top Dog with 146 points. 2nd The U.K. Team with 408, Phil Parkins Lab. F.T. Ch. Fernshot Comet winning second highest Dog. 3rd Sweden with 389 points, Ake Fuchs’s Flatcoated Retriever SJCH. Friia Agnar Windy awarded highest Flatcoated or Chesapeake. Many thanks to Aigle for their sponsorship and the magnificent prizes.

Saturday and Sunday were days for the Jeep International held over the same ground. Four Teams competed, England, Scotland, Wales and because Ireland were unable to attend, a mixed European Team with Spaniels from England, Republic of Ireland, Wales, Netherlands and Sweden chosen beforehand by the Captain Philip Wagland and five Retrievers chosen from the dogs running the day before, U.K., Sweden, Switzerland, and two from The Netherlands.

The Spaniels ran on both mornings judged by Wendy Knight and John Edwards, five dogs from each Team with two from different Teams running together. A total of 120 marks were to be awarded altogether with 70 of these for hunting.

For possibly the first time at the CLA International there were two Cocker Spaniels running, one for England coming in at the last minute when an English Springer Spaniel had to withdraw, one for Europe, otherwise all the dogs were ESS.

It was a great pleasure to watch the magnificent hunting of some of the best Spaniels around today with all but three dogs gaining over 50 marks, Jim Clarks Rytex Rish for Scotland and Jeff McAndrew‚s F.T. Ch. Tyn-y-Waun Toddy for Wales tying on 63, requiring a run off at the end. The Cockers also got high marks, Steve Tyers’s Cadboll Zachary for England awarded 60 and Mark Whitehouse’s Dearnvalley Jade of Cheweky for Europe 58.

The retrieves over the fences were first class and all the dogs enjoyed the water retrieves on cloudy but warm days, particularly after the hard work put in both hunting and retrieving.

The run off between Rytex Rish and F.T. Ch. Tyn-y-Waun Toddy was held late on Sunday morning with a tremendous crowd spitting, Rytex Rish being the victor.

Both afternoons were taken up by the retrievers, all Labradors except for two Golden Retrievers and one Flatcoated Retriever for the European Team. 120 marks being up for grabs to be awarded by Judges John Stewart and Brian Reid.

The Saturday afternoon commenced with a walk up for a dog from each Team with a mark forward over two fences followed by a mark behind also over two fences, a long way to complete a really superb retrieve where the dog goes directly to the dummy without requiring to be handled but several were getting full points including Annette Clarke’s F.T. Ch. Contraire Cromwell brought in from the reserves at the last minute, Sandra Halstead’s Greenbrier Viper of Drakes and Heather Bradley’s Sweet Milo of Heather, all for the English Team, Phil Par F.T. Ch. Fernshot Comet, Werner Haag’s A Blizzard Op de Bartley, Golden Retriever, and Gerda Companjen’s Lowly Nabisco another Golden, for the European Team. Joseph McClure's Tudor Blue of Silver, and Billy Steel’s Clobber Apache of Lead for Scotland gained 20s as did Paul Clark’s Powenargrof Douglas, Garth Davies’s Rope Star, Brian Gregory’s Powenargrof Fleur and John Derrick F.T. Ch. Mynyddmaen Rios Due, for Wales.

Things were hotting up, could Wales keep it going, they had never won the CLA International although they were the victors last year at Sherborne Castle.

Sunday afternoon was wet, the first time it had rained over the three days but it didn’t seem to deter the dogs or for that matter their handlers! Things were getting exciting, England had already been declared the top Spaniel Team with 493 points but Scotland were so close behind with 491, could Scotland keep it up with their Retrievers and steal a victory as they did last year?

One of the most difficult retrieves was a blind across the lake, at least 120 yards away with just a blank fired on the far bank to get the dogs attention, Ake Fuchs’s SJCh. Friia Agnar Windy for the European Team, the only Flatcoated Retriever to be running, made it look simple, the crowd loved it and applauded enthusiastically.

Every Team except Scotland had had a failure and collected a zero but their luck ran out on the last retrieve when unfortunately Greig Paterson’s Avonstream Atlas failed to find as did Paul Clark’s Powenargrof Douglas for Wales which just tipped the balance.

Top Team overall - England 1029, 2nd Scotland 985, 3rd Wales 967.
Top Retriever Team England 536, 2nd Europe 507, 3rd Scotland 494.
Top individual Spaniel and Best Hunter Jim Clark’s Rytex Rish, Scotland.
Top individual Retriever Joseph Maclure’s Tudorcourt Blueback of Silversnipe, Scotland.

So ended another memorable Game Fair now it’s next July at Broadlands, Hampshire to look forward to, see you there.

Photo by Terry Bailey
English Springer Actonhill Flame (Scotland) makes it look easy