I was in at number 8 and didn't have long to wait before my first run, backing up Andy Robinson who's stud dog FTW Kiltonbeck Warlord is Ellie's dad. Andy's dog unfortunately moved on the flush and I was up.
I was running under Art Mccrory, one of the two Irish judges who'd come over to judge the trial. I started alongside a stream in wet boggy rushes and I knew getting a find on a rabbit would be unlikely. I had quite a long run before a loose cock bird got up to the right and crossed over Ellie's head, the stream on our left and a barbed wire fence before it was shot around 30 yards away. Ellie had sat perfectly.
Art told me we would cross the river and then I put Ellie over the fence waiting to send her. A single cast and she disappeared over a little brow and swiftly returned the cock bird to hand. That was my first run done and I made my way back to the gallery to take a breath! We'd survived our first run!
Game was coming a bit more frequently now and a few dogs went by the wayside. It wasn't long before I was backing up Tom Skelly who was the last odd numbered dog to run.
I shook hands with the other judge Matt Morgan who told me to take my lead off whilst the other side of the line worked inside a fence alongside a pond. Darran McGhee had a nice flush and a retrieve on a rabbit which came out of the fence and was shot 20 yards away from us stood out in the open field. They then carried on and another rabbit was flushed out into the field. Matt was offered the retrieve and he asked me to send my dog. I cast Ellie out and with a single cast she was out and back with the rabbit with no whistle.
Then it was a change of dogs on the left whilst Ellie was still sat off lead. Jason atkinson was in next and he had a nice find on a cock bird which was shot and retrieved inside the fence. He carried on and I was asked to start hunting the rushes in front of us. No sooner had I cast her off when a shot rang out on the other side. Ellie stopped without whistle and sat. I hadn't marked what was shot or where it was.
Jason sent his dog inside the fence and after a couple of tries I was called over. I jumped over the barbed wire fence with Ellie and was given a mark around 30 yards away. I cast her out and she tool a line on the rabbit. Hunted a small area and disappeared up to her shoulders down a rabbit hole and straightaway popped up with a dead rabbit which was brought straight back to hand. Chuffed to bits. My first ever eye wipe.
Back over the fence and I hunted some thick rushes for another 30 yards or so before Matt tapped me on the shoulder and said that's do me. I was elated. I'd finished Ellie's first ever trial.
Her first run was average and she was not going as well as I know she can. However her 2nd run I couldn't complain. A couple of dogs still had their runs to come before we were back to the cars for the awards.
I was awarded a Certificate of Merit and Best Retrieve for the eyewipe on the rabbit. I was over the moon. I also won on the raffle haha. Ellie's retrieving and marking were impeccable not needing a single whistle or command other than being cast out. Her hunting was a bit sticky on a long first run but other than that she acquitted herself very well.
Onto the next one!