The first two dogs were underway and it was a matter of seconds before they hit game, it looked like the trial was to be much the same as the open stake the day before. However, it later turned out that game was much harder to come by, certainly in quantity, and a number of dogs had quite long runs. There were a couple of eliminations in the sugar beet and from the birds that were being picked it was obvious that scenting conditions hadn’t improved from the previous day.
As I was running at number 7 I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was called to back up. At the end of the sugar beet we moved into a piece of scrubland with white grass, reeds, bramble etc and I was backing up. Number 5 was put out for failing to pick a bird and I was called up to run under Edward Martin. I had a thickish patch of grass and reeds etc to run in and it wasn’t long before I had a flush on a pheasant poult which Fern sat to nicely.
We carried on and reached the end of the patch before turning right handed into more thick cover alongside a pond. Fern was working the margins of the pond and was steady when a dozen or so duck got up from beside her which weren’t shot at over the water. We carried on and Fern was smashing through the cover, a couple of times she had to have second attempts to break through thick walls of brambles and sticky buds.
She again flushed a pheasant poult which couldn’t be shot at because of the season not starting for another few weeks and at this point I noticed she was blowing a bit with the relatively long run and the heat. We’d come in from the open cover crop into a patch surrounded by trees and there was very little breeze, I was hoping my run would be over soon.
We were approaching a partridge pen at the end of the cover we were working and a covey of partridges got up and flew forward towards a wood approximately 20 yards in front. One was shot by a gun on the other side and Anita Jones’ dog was tried on it but failed to pick it. I was called over and given a mark where the bird was, across a little ditch and sat in a small hollow at the base of a couple of trees. I cast Fern back and she worked the area, almost trampling on the bird, but didn’t pick it. A couple of directions later and she finally picked it. I didn’t realise scenting would be that difficult. She delivered to hand nicely and that was my first run over with, with Edward saying she was a very nice dog.
Looking at the card, I knew it wouldn’t be too long before I was called back in as the even numbered dogs had fallen rapidly in numbers. I was soon backing up in another field of long thick grass and it wasn’t long before I was called up to run under Joe Hipwell. Game at this point had become a little scarce so I was hoping for a quick find and retrieve. I should be so lucky!!
We worked the whole length of the field before we finally got a flush at the end of a small covey of birds which weren’t shot at by the guns, I couldn’t believe it. We then dropped down into another field and continued our run in even thicker cover. Fern was making a good attempt at hunting it out when a pheasant poult and a couple of partridge got up from the other side. The pheasant flew directly over Fern and I kept an eye on her to make sure she didn’t move, whilst on the other side a partridge had been shot approximately 40 yards out in front. Steve Brewer was tried on it from the other side but his dog couldn’t pick it. At this point I thought I’d be called over closer to where Steve was, however I was given a mark to try my dog on from where I was, maybe 50-60 yards. It certainly looked a long way through the thick cover.
It took me a few attempts to get Fern into the area but she returned with nothing and when the judges went out and picked the bird that was my run done. Joe said it was bad luck and that she’d had an excellent run. I was gutted and frustrated, I’d seen other dogs on the day be taken closer to the fall as second dog down. I’m not saying Fern would have picked it as scenting was poor and it had fallen in some tall thick cover, but it’d have been nice to have been taken a bit closer. On coming back to the gallery Will Clulee and Anita Jones both commented that it was too far for a novice trial, I don’t get much luck!
A few more dogs had their final runs and there was to be a run off between John Bailey and Anita Jones’ 2nd dog before the trial was declared over. It was back to the cars and back to the original meeting point for the presentations (detailed below). Only 5 dogs had finished the trial and with names like Will Clulee, Anita Jones, Richard Claydon, James Luxford etc you know it’d been a tough trial.
I spoke with Joe and Edward to get some feedback who said she’d had excellent runs and I’d have been in the run off with John and Anita if she hadn’t have gone out on that retrieve which made it even worse.
1st: John Bailey with Fernmoss Gold Dust Of Gournaycourt in its first trial
2nd: Anita Jones with Episcopi Wonga
3rd: Paul Seaman with Dakotagun Bilbo Ben of Pixiefen
4th : Wayne Parrington with Whitebeam Frost Pocket
COM: Ken Gaskell with Lisburne Judy