Waiting in the hotel car park was Dean Aylott, a friend who has one of Fern’s pups. I’d told him to bring her as he was coming to watch anyway and he ended up getting a run in the trial as well as Fern due to a number of competitors dropping out the day before. I was in at number 4 with Fern, Dean was 10 with Twiggy and I was 14 with Ellie.
After the briefing etc it was back in the cars and back to exactly the same ground we had run the Open stake in yesterday. I was doing my best to reassure Dean he’d be OK. It was his first trial after all. I was backing up Martyn Elliott on the left hand side as he began his run in the bracken. His dog was going nicely and soon had a find and retrieve.
At this point I have to mention I haven’t done any trialling training with Fern in months. She’s been dogging in, picking up, beating etc, but I thought the heavy bramble might hold her a bit. It didn’t!!!!! She smashed the place to bits with her hunting, unfortunately not in unison with myself and it wasn’t long before Anita tapped me on the shoulder and told me to call her in. Short but sweet!!
In came number 6 and Dean was immediately backing up as there was no number 8 dog. He was soon in line and from where I was Twiggy looked to be going well. I saw a flush, heard a whistle, and the bird came down. Unfortunately she’d bounced a little too far and that was her out. She hadn’t disgraced herself, many open dogs had gone out yesterday for much worse. Dean took Twiggy and Fern back to the cars at this point whilst I waited to go in with Ellie.
Number 12 unfortunately went out and I was up. I had a lovely bit of bracken to start off in and it wasn’t long until Ellie punched a cock bird out from underneath some bracken, sitting to the flush and watching it get shot 20 yards or so away. She was soon out and back with it. We hunted on and she was going much better than yesterday, I think she realised she would find things in the brambles etc. Anita Jones, one of the new judges for today told me that’d do, shaking both hers and Nick Powells hands I headed back to the gallery with a smile on my face.
A couple of the dogs on the right hand side were having long runs, and with numbers 4,8,10 and 12 going out, we had quite a long wait before our second run. Ironically it came at almost exactly the same place as yesterday in the open.
This time I was in under Steve Bates and new judge John Eyre. I was given a lovely bracken bed to hunt. I clicked Ellie off and she looked lovely going under the bracken and popping out of it. I had a flushed within the first 15 seconds, a cock bird shot straight out in front. Steve laughed and said "That's the sort of luck Opie would have". Send your dog he said. Ellie went out and started to hunt just short of the fall in the bracken. Luck was on my side again, the pheasant sprung up into the air and she went further out and picked it. Bringing it straight back to hand.
We were asked to hunt on for what felt like an eternity as I was the last dog in before I finally heard the words "that'll do you". I was elated, we had finished another trial and she had gone well.
The judges got together and shortly after declared the trial over, like yesterday, it was a short walk back to the car. At least this time I knew where we were going for the presentations.
A quick sandwich and coffee and it was time for the presentations. Nigel Dear was presenting the awards and I was first dog to be called up in 3rd place. I was chuffed to bits. I think 9 dogs finished the trial and only 1st to 3rd were awarded.
Speaking with the judges after the trial, I was awarded an A by all 4 judges. The dogs in first and second had a couple of good As so I wasn't far away. On another day on ground that suits her better I might have got the win.
I have to mention how good the ground was despite all the negativity it has received about it being tough. Yes it's bramble, but the keeper did an excellent job of prepping it.
That's four trials now for Ellie. Including an Open trial where she was one of six dogs to finish. She has received two Certificates of Merit and a 3rd place. Hopefully the win is just around the corner.