The trial was due to start at 3pm in case the weather was hot, however it was nice and overcast with a cooling breeze, ideal conditions really. Looking at the card for the trial I didn't hold out much hope of success, championship winners were running their dogs, numerous other professional handlers as well as some class amateur handlers. Given how long it took me to finish a trial with Fern I said to Sarah on the morning that i'd be happy just to finish.
Game supply was difficult for a number of dogs, with a few having blank runs. We started in white grass with patches of rushes and some of the early dogs were making a good job of hunting despite the lack of game. It wasn't too long until we got into some rabbits and a couple of the early dogs unfortunately went out. I was in at number 9 and it wasn't long before I was called over to back up behind Will Clulee.
Will finished his run and I was up, running under Andy Robinson. I cast Lucy off and she started well, taking a bit of ground before whistling her in on a backwind beat. She worked it very well, however she still needs to get used to working alongside another dog, a couple of times she half responded to the whistle on the other side of the line.
We soon reached a thick patch of rushes, approx 50 yards in length which Andy asked me to just do my best to cover as the other side of the line were further down the hill. Lucy picked up a gear in the rushes and looked to be going a bit better. Before long I saw her sit up, indicating a rabbit, I put her back onto it straight away and out it went heading to the left towards Derek Lee who unfortunately missed. However it doubled back out in front of us and headed right where John Bailey managed to hit it with his 2nd barrel approx 50 yards outside of the rushes.
Andy asked me to send Lucy, knowing that she didn't mark it because of the tall rushes i hoped she would take the line of the rabbit and Andy told me to leave her. She took a nice line through the rushes, however she lost it just outside them and it took a stop whistle and a cast to the left from me to get her in the area. She was soon back to hand with the rabbit and that was my first run done.
I thanked andy and made my way back to the gallery, chuffed to bits she'd gotten through her first run. I gave her some water as it was relatively warm now knowing that she might be back in soon given a few of the early dogs had gone out. Chatting with Davey Lissett inbetween runs we were debating luck in field trials and how it can make the difference between winning and going out.
I was soon backing up Linda Hudson who unfortunately had a blank run and finished in a patch of rushes. Ben Watkins called me up and pointed me in the direction we were heading. No sooner had I put Lucy in the patch of rushes when a rabbit popped out and headed back through the line with 2 shots being fired at it. Ben told me to send her but then a gun shouted that it had made a hole so Ben asked me to call her back. Then the other gun said he could see it lying approximately 30 yards away. I cast Lucy out and she was straight out and back with it. I was told to carry on and moved across a short section of white grass before putting her into another patch of rushes where she produced another rabbit which unfortunately the guns couldn't shoot. Ben said "that'll do you" and I shook his hand and made my way back to the gallery absolutely delighted she had finished her first ever trial.
The last remaining dogs had relatively long runs, some of them blank before the trial was declared over at 7pm. We headed back to the car park for the results and a well earned sandwich!
The results were read out in the following order:
1st) Will Coulee - Croimhor Turn of Poolgreen
2nd) Davey lissett - Buccleuch Llana
3rd) Steve Brewer - Ardcaein fall of delphauen
4th) Scott Mossop - Amberquest Lil Amby
Andy Whitehouse - Sugar Bullet enforcer
Rod Chapel - Zamyendor Nutmeg
Linda Hudson - Moelfamau Shea of Jackshea
I was over the moon. She had finished her first ever trial in good company. The drive home flew in, via a Burger King for both me and Lucy, with the phone not stopping with congratulations from friends.