Billy Steel, Kevin Doughty, Robert Atkinson and Phil Allen judged this year’s Championship.. Between them they have a wealth of experience training, competing with and judging retrievers. Both Billy and Kevin have judged the Championship before and all four judges have competed in it. Billy has qualified for 21 Retriever Championships and has won it twice – with FT Ch Linksview Jet and FT Ch Bracken of Berrybrae – and Robert handled FTCh Little Marston Chorus of Holway to be Retriever Champion in 1982.
Billy worked as a gamekeeper on the Leadhills Estate for 19 years. For the last 13 years he has run a boarding and training kennels as a full time profession.
Kevin also runs a successful boarding kennels and spends much of the summer holding training days at his Highseas ground.
Robert who has made up six Field Trial Champions says he has some way to go before he matches his mother June’s record of 17!
Phil has been trialling retrievers since 1973 and his Golden Retriever FT Ch Reffley Candy is the only Golden to qualify for the Championship for 5 consecutive years.
For those who Trial or have ambition to do so, the pinnacle is the IGL Retriever Championship.. In order to run in the Championship handlers must qualify by gaining either an “A” by winning a two day Open Stake, or 3 “B’s” by coming second in a two day Open Stake or by winning a one day Open Stake. The winner of the previous IGL Retriever Championship is invited to defend his title and the current Irish Champion is also invited to compete.
Fiona Joint with Hullabaloo Whisky Mac (who has qualified for the first time), David Latham with FT Ch Beileys Aguzanis of Fendawood and Stephanie Smith with FT Ch Snowdell Spender have all qualified on 3 Bs. Declan Boyle with FT Ch Miller McDuff has an A and 3 Bs and Clare Baker with FT Ch Windoogpack Coral has 2 As and 3Bs – quite some achievement for Clare in her first Championship!
Other new faces Donald Leitch, Jo Rollinson, Peter Abbs, Jason Mayhew, Alex Adamson, Vanessa King, Stuart Arch, Frank Wright, John Williamson, Rowan Allen, Paddy Merrall, Morton Redpath, Paul Stogden, Roy Morris, and Thelma Blumenthal who will be running the winner of the Irish Championship FT Ch Abhaile Taite Bui.
Whilst handlers like John Halsted and the two Latham brothers Andy
and David, almost seem like part of the furniture at the Championship
(this is the 26th consecutive Championship for which John has qualified,
frequently with multiple dogs) there are others who regularly qualify
too. Interestingly while no one competing this year took part in the
1988 Championship held at Ampton (and won by David Benson’s bitch FT Ch
Pocklea Tide of Middlegate, handled by Dave Garbutt), several of those
running this year were competing in 2006 when the Championship was last
at Ampton. That year the Retriever Champion was FT Ch Marcus Maybe of
Wadesmill, a golden retriever owned by Max Wright and handled by his son
Andrew. Handlers who qualified for the 2006 Championship and have also
done so this year include Andy Latham, David Latham, Vikki Stanley, Mike
Tallamy, Diana Wiggin, Jennie Hankey, John Halsted, Judith Evans and
Consistency is everything in Gundog training. The IGL Retriever Championship illustrates this perfectly as many of the handlers qualify year after year. There are handlers running the progeny of dogs they have qualified in previous years and there are litter siblings running. Donald Leitch has qualified to run with two dogs – mother and son.
Two dogs have the most consistent record as each has qualified for the Championship for 5 years in succession. These are FT Ch Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth (Astra) handled by John Halsted and FT Ch Rimrock Hurricane (Bruce) handled by Andy Latham. Not only have these two qualified every year since 2012 but Astra is the defending Champion and gained a Diploma in 2012 and Bruce was awarded 4th in 2014 and was runner up last year.
Just behind these two is Mike Tallamy’s FT Ch Garrethall Quill of Brindlebay (Quill) who has qualified for 4 consecutive years. Mike was unable to run in the Championship last year as he was judging. And qualifying for three years on the trot are John Yarwood with FT Ch Gosberry Governor and Terry Prentice with FT Ch Hitowngreen Diamond Joe of Findpoint.
Of the 58 dogs running, 54 are Labradors and 4 are Golden Retrievers
Of the 54 Labradors, 40 are Dogs and 14 are Bitches
All of the Golden Retrievers are Dogs
Allan Schofield’s FT Ch Eastdale Harry is the leading sire with 5 of his progeny running
The two oldest dogs running are both bitches who were whelped in June 2008. They are Diana Wiggins’ FT Ch Brockweir Daisy and Jennie Hankey’s FT Ch Auka Meadow Rue of Ardmuir
The youngest dog running was Louie Robertson’s Mitforton Nacho who was whelped in April 2014. He is also a double qualifier with 2 As
John Halsted qualified 5 dogs in 2015. This year he ran three: The defending Champion, FT Ch Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth who also has an A from this season; FT Ch Jarailstar Rocky Road of Blackhatch who has 1 A; and FT Ch Brocklebank Navigator of Chatsworth who has 2 As
Clare Baker with FT Ch Windoogpack Coral has 2 As and 3 Bs!!
Other double qualifiers are
Gary McCutcheon with Int FT Ch Camgart Tommo (2 x As)
Dave Field with FT Ch Artistryn Ulrich (2 x As)
Donnie Leitch has As with two different dogs: Garshake Dunbar and Stauntonvale Scandal of Garshake
Looking at last year’s Championship, the first three dogs:
1st John Halsted FT Ch Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth
2nd Andy Latham FT Ch Rimrock Hurricane
3rd Peter Goddard FT Ch Carltonstar Toby
have all qualified this year too. As have three of last year’s Diploma of Merit winners:
Annette Clarke FT Ch Garronpoint Avoca (Unfortunately Annette’s bitch came into season and was unable to run.)
Diana Wiggin FT Ch Brockweir Daisy
Stephanie Smith FT Ch Snowdell Spender
15 dogs which qualified to run last year have done so again this year
CLARE WOOD was asked by the Committee to write a report on the 2016 Championship and her article appears below in full. Very many thanks to Clare for producing this excellent article.
“I like a challenge!” These were Peter Rushbrook’s words to IGL President Terry Prentice when he agreed to host this year’s Retriever Championship at the Ampton Shooting Estate in Suffolk. It was a challenge which Peter and his team lead by Alan Hammond, head keeper, met magnificently, making all preparations for this premiere event in months instead of the usual years.
We gathered on a foggy morning by the marquee, very generously provided by Skinner’s who are the major sponsors of the IGL Retriever Championship, on the lawn in front of Great Livermere Hall. Competitors registered and spectators arrived to be greeted warmly by Gilly Nickols, the IGL Honorary Secretary. Robert Atkinson and Billy Steel were to judge on the right hand side of the line and Phil Allen and Kevin Doughty on the left. 60 dogs qualified for this year’s Championship with 54 dogs starting. Billy Steel qualified FTCh Broadlaw Fitz but for obvious reasons was not able to run his dog.
We moved off on foot from the Hall, as on every day of the Championship, and at 8.30am we started walking up on corn drill. Visibility was poor due to the foggy conditions with either end of the line barely visible to the other; it was cold and still. Birds were shot as we walked through a narrow block of maize and David Field with FT Ch Artistryn Ulrich was walked forward on the right to pick cleanly the first bird of the Championship.
David Latham with Ragweeds Aston of Fendawood made a tricky retrieve behind the line in the maize look simple as he calmly followed forward judge Billy Steel’s mark to pick.
We emerged from the maize and went forward into the next crop. Alan Hammond said the frost had been at this mustard and it was now no more than knee height. Shortly afterwards Gordon Hay’s golden retriever Soinneanta Gorse of Hollywear went second dog on a running partridge and made an impressive job, taking a line from the fall to pick this winged bird.
Leigh Jackson with FT Ch Arkglas Thor was able to pick a bird shot in mustard some 60 yards off the end of the line which Di Wiggins and FT Ch Brockweir Daisy had not been able to locate. He was then taken over to the right hand side to be tried on a bird shot 80 yards off that end of the line in stubble that had not been found by Andy Latham with FT Ch Rimrock Hurricane. Conditions were such that Leigh Jackson could not see his dog beyond a certain point and had to handle by remote control to pick this bird in the mist. Again, Billy Steel went forward to help give an accurate area to the handler.
The line carried on in the mustard and dogs picked successfully and dogs were lost first dog down. John Halsted with the first of the three dogs he qualified this year, FT Ch Jarailstar Rocky Road of Blackhatch, placed 2nd at Cawdor in 2012, neatly picked their first bird of this Championship but sadly Mike Tallamy (who handled FT Ch Bringwood Bobby of Brindlebay to win the Championship in 2002) with his bitch FT Ch Garrethall Quill of
Brindlebay went first dog down on a bird that was not to be found by the other three dogs tried or the judges.
By this time the fog was lifting. Norman Onens and FT Ch Kestrelway Freddie smartly picked the first of two birds shot in the mustard infront of the line and Jo Rollinson with Troddenmills Bail Me Out picked the second without touching her whistle but subsequently went first dog down on a wounded pheasant seen to run forward into the Lily Pond maize.
The line moved forward and shortly the Long Water was running parallel to the right hand side. The left hand guns had been moved out wide to the left and shot a number of birds. The last of which was picked in an excellent retrieve by Peter Goddard with FT Ch Carltonstar Toby. Unknown to the handler, this was a hen bird which had tucked up on the edge of the field by the wood and which the gun saw then move off into the bracken behind. FT Ch Carltonstar Toby showed his quality by working the area and persisting until found the fall and then taking a line into the bracken to pick. A hare shot on the stubble in front of the line was cleanly picked from the right by Nathan Laffy and Westmacott Gaelic who then went after Louie Robertson and FT Ch Mitforton Nacho to find a difficult partridge partly submerged on the Long Water.
A mini drive produced birds shot in the belt of trees between the Long Water and the bare drill in the corner of the field as well as on the drill and in the wood straight ahead. Unfortunately, the judges eye wiped four dogs to pick a partridge which had tucked in on the side of the wood.
David Logan, running in his first championship at the age of only 23, with Devonvale Shadow made a good start here smartly picking a bird in the far corner where the belt of trees met the wood opposite and then another from the Long Water. (Sharon Coby was 22 years of age when she came 2nd at Windsor with Fordleymoor Whisky Mac of Longwalk in 2007).
More birds produced by the mini drive were cleared and the sun came out as Lee Hartis and Troddenmills Beck and Call of Leacaz picked one behind the line on the drill.
Alan Hammond and his team produced two further flushes of birds which were expertly shot by guns John Keegan, Tom Lowe (whose old friends Alex and Peter Lake shared his gun with Alex shooting on the first day and Peter on the third),Peter Tydey, Nigel Reed, Charlie Rushbrook, Peter Rushbrook, Vic Vermeiren and Roger Wade. All are well known in the shooting and dog world; appreciated for their generosity in shooting at trials and some also for trialling dogs themselves.
Andrew Slingsby and Arkglas Taylor were sent during the first of these mini drives and successfully picked their retrieve. This was one of five dogs running at this Championship sired by FT Ch Eastdale Harry, who was awarded a Diploma of Merit at Sandringham in 2010. Victoria Stanley and FT Ch Patanavac Brough, another of the dogs running by FT Ch Eastdale Harry, made an efficient start here picking their first bird with minimal handling and the second without any at all.
A brief stop for lunch, the sun ended its brief appearance, and then all crossed a single pathway wooden bridge to the opposite side of the Long Water. The walk up recommenced in the parkland of beautiful Ampton Hall which is owned by the Turner family. The Turner family were, Ben Turner told me later, at lunch and watched from the house as the line and spectators made their way forward onto stubble with maize planted to the right.
Here Morton Redpath and Hassycott Whistlefish Fin prompted the first applause of the day from the spectators’ gallery by wiping the eye of three dogs tried on a bird seen to go forward and into a wood to the left of the line.
The line rounded the corner to enter a marshy area of tussocks, white grass, bull rushes, thistle and small shrubs. Derryad Moss, a yellow dog handled by John Barr, greatly impressed judge Phil Allen by the way in which he smashed through heavy cover to quickly reach the fall of, and pick, a moving bird. David Latham had a potentially difficult retrieve with his second qualified dog FT Ch Beileys Aguzannis of Fendawood when, having been walked forward, he was sent for a wounded bird which had gone on some distance before coming down behind the line into thick cover.
FT Ch Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth, the defending retriever champion, and handler John Halsted waited as another dog worked before neatly picking their first bird of the day in sparse beet. This was followed shortly afterwards by a hare at the other end of the line which they retrieved with minimal handling.
A hare shot on the edge of an area of beet and fat hen bought to an end the Championship hopes of both Gordon Hay and Leigh Jackson when they were eye wiped by the judges.
Thelma Blumenthal with FT Ch Abhaile Taite Bui, winner of the 2015 Irish Championship, made an excellent job of their second round retrieve, a mark across the line and over a brow where this first time handler at the Championship would not have been able to see her dog pick.
Billy Steel very much admired the way in which Declan Boyle fought hard to pick a bird shot off the left hand end of the line and into the Long Water behind. Declan persisted to push FT Ch Miller McDuff through the belt of trees and back into the water to pick behind the other two dogs tried, FT Ch Snowdell Spender handled by Stephanie Smith and Stautonvale Scandal of Garshake handled by Donald Leitch.
By this time the light was failing and the scent falling away. A bird was shot in front of the line amongst tall brown fat hen which ended Allie Hogsbjerg’s and Quarnford Grouse of Ruffriver’s championship campaign. The bird was not to be picked by Donald Leitch and Garshake Dunbar, his second qualified dog, or the judges.
The last successful retrieve of day was Donald Leitch’s who with Garshake Dunbar picked a difficult bird shot off the end of the line beyond the belt of trees over both a ditch and a track and into the Long Water behind Helena Sully Echobrook Whisper of Quabrook and David Latham with Ragweeds Aston of Fendawood.
The pristine vehicle that sponsors Isuzu had driven alongside the trial had been turned into a game cart and was now splattered with mud and feathers. David Cowley who had supplied the Isuzu pickup also “chauffeured” Alan Thornton, an IGL Championship winner in1990 with FT Ch Tasco Dancing Brave of Willowyck, and enjoyed the benefit of Alan’s commentary on the proceedings.
28 dogs were required by the judges for the second day; 4 dogs had already completed their second round on the first day. It was apparent that much good feeling was generated by allowing those handlers who were no longer in the trial to remain in the competitors’ gallery as well as permitting all handlers to be joined in the gallery by a family member or friend throughout the trial.
The mild weather and good visibility of the second day were a complete contrast to the previous day’s conditions. The line started off through a strip of maize and FT Ch Jarailstar Rocky Road of Blackhatch was crossed to retrieve the first bird of the day shot on the stubble on the other side of the maize.
On leaving the stubble and entering the wood in front, Tim Brain handled FT Ch Flypatch Alfa, placed 3rd at Windsor in 2014, to pick a partridge shot in the wood off the end of the line. Jason Mayhew and Kestrelway Drake picked from a nettled bank over a gutter on the right hand side.
FT Ch Carltonstar Toby was lost 1st dog down on a bird shot as the line came out of the wood and into the beet field beyond. This bird was not to be picked by FT Ch Gortons Gaelic Prince handled by John Williamson or the judges.
The line widened to some 150 yards in the beet with a slight breeze from behind the line. A running pheasant was shot about 50 yards in front of the line and golden retriever FT Ch Gortons Gaelic Prince hit the fall and looked to take a line but, sadly, after some excellent work failed to pick. Clare Baker’s FT Ch Windoogpack Coral maintained its focus to pick in front of the line as a muntjac passed through the middle of the line.
Birds continued to be shot as Alan Hammond calmly communicated by radio with his team who quietly, and seemingly effortlessly, produced birds. Flags could be seen in the far distance and birds were pushed over from maize planted to the right. Billy Steel, in his judges’ speech at the end of the trial, sincerely and warmly thanked Alan, beat keepers Ricky and Richard and the team of stops and beaters for their hard work and patience. Without them, the display of dog work over the 3 days would not have been possible. The judges very much appreciated the fact that nothing was too much trouble for Alan whenever they asked him for anything during the Championship. Beat keeper Richard is also known as Captain Pugwash as he recently fell into the Long Water. On the third day Peter Rushbrook presented him with goggles and snorkel in case this happens again!
There was opportunity to see the dogs mark; FT Ch Patanavac Brough showed his marking ability, pace and nose to pick a moving bird shot across the line. Unfortunately, John Yarwood with FT Ch Gosberry Governor (at their 4th consecutive championship) and Morton Redpath with Hassycott Whistlefish Fin were eye wiped by the judges on a hare shot in front of the line.
Both FT Ch Beileys Aguzannis of Fendawood and FT Ch Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth showed off superior marking ability on birds which were shot across the long line into an area of tall fat hen where the dogs could only have seen the line of the fall.
FT Ch Miller McDuff made a stylish attempt on a partridge shot about 40 yards out from the middle of the line, FT Ch Jarailstar Rocky Road of Blackhatch was also tried but it was FT Ch Artistryn Ulrich, handled by David Field, brought over from the right hand side of the line, who finally picked this bird some 10 yards from the fall. This dog then went behind Donald Leitch’s Garshake Dunbar and Norman Onens’ FT Ch Kestrelway Freddie to pick the second of two geese shot.
FT Ch Abhaile Taite Bui made quick work of a hare which was shot in the bottom corner of Woodcock Spinney on the right hand side of the beet field.
Nathan Laffy’s yellow dog Westmacott Gaelic went first dog down on a partridge which flipped several times.
There was a brief stop for lunch before the line walked back through Heath Covert and upwind into the sugar beet. Clare Baker’s FT Ch Windoogpack Coral had three dry runs before being sent for a pheasant shot behind in the beet off the end of Heath Covert. This had been shot earlier while another bird was being tried for and Clare impressed Billy Steel with her tenacious handling to pick.
The temperature, though it was only early afternoon, was by now dropping. FT Ch Patanavac Brough succeeded in locating a hare behind FT Ch Brocklebank Navigator of Chatsworth and Arkglas Taylor.
FT Ch Beileys Aguzannis of Fendawood then picked what will be remembered as the outstanding retrieve of the Championship. A bird was shot some 40 yards in front of the left hand side of the line. Beileys hit the fall fast, touched scent and went off at full stretch to pick a further 150 yards ahead in the beet. Normally impassive when handling, David Latham’s smile as the dog returned with its retrieve said it all.
FT Ch Warrenbank Monkeyson of Castlemans handled by Philippa Williams picked the final retrieve of the day, a hare shot in front of the line at 2.30 pm.
It was to prove an exciting third and final day of the Championship with 14 dogs taken through. The line set off at 9am with both the right and left hand dogs positioned on the right hand side to best take advantage of the game shot. Almost immediately 2 pheasants were shot on the left hand side, one into the cover of Chicken Extension and the other further to the right where it could be seen flapping on the corn drill. Unfortunately, David Field’s dog picked the wrong bird and his Championship campaign came to an end.
A wounded pheasant shot some 60 yards in front of the line on the right hand side in tussocks, white grass and thistle was tried for firstly by FT Ch Flypatch Alfa and then Scarningvale Wexford (handled by Peter Abbs). Both these dogs had been running a good trial but were impressively eye wiped by Devonvale Shadow who then proceeded to further show off his natural game finding ability by picking a bird across the left hand ditch and in front of Chicken Wood behind Kestrelway Drake.
FT Ch Windoogpack Coral looked worthy of her Champion status when she smartly picked a running pheasant from across the line and over the left hand ditch. But this dog, along with Tallygold Mullberry and Troddenmills Beck and Call of Leacaz were to be eye wiped by FT Ch Patanavac Brough on a pheasant shot behind into a thick area of tall thistle and white grass.
Kevin Doughty very much admired and enjoyed watching the work and hunting ability of the 4 dogs tried on a dry run for a partridge behind the line: Derryad Moss, FT Ch Beileys Aguzannis of Fendawood, FT Ch Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth and FT Ch Warrenbank Monkeyson of Castlemans.
The gallery of spectators were afforded good viewing on both this and the previous day. In fact, they so appreciated the efforts of their stewards, Brian Chesser and David Wall, in helping to bring this about that they applauded them at the end of the trial. The spectators had also been kept extremely well informed over the three days by Gilly Nickols’ running commentary relayed to them by the stewards.
Only 6 dogs were left standing at the end of this walk up to be taken through to the run off, a duck drive on the Long Water. A short drive started just before midday which was stopped once the judges felt there were ample retrieves on which to finish the trial.
Each of the remaining dogs picked their water retrieve some 60 yards across the Long Water. The judges closed their books and declared the trial over. In their short discussion regarding the result, they had each written down the result and found themselves in perfect agreement as to placings.
For the third and last time of this Championship all returned to the Skinner’s marquee to drink hot tomato soup, also very generously and thoughtfully provided by Skinners, and to wait eagerly for the result.
Between them, Terry Prentice and Gilly Nickols made sincere thanks on behalf of the IGL to the sponsors (British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Country-wide Stores, Field Trial Management System, Darlington Vets, Paul French Video International, Gundog Gear, High-Fly Game Hatcheries Ltd, The Kennel Club, Isuzu G.B., Pernice Press, Steve Petch, Susan Rose China and the main sponsor Roger Skinner Ltd), Peter Rushbrook and family, Alan Hammond and his team, the Turner family, guns, judges, and helpers. The Susan Rose China commemorative plates were well received by the winner, judges and Turner family.
The result was then announced and it was no surprise, and with great pleasure, to hear that FT Ch Beileys Aguzannis of Fendawood had won the 2016 Retriever Championship. David
Latham has now won 4 times equalling John Halstead Snr’s outstanding record. In his winner’s speech David paid a warm tribute to his mentor John Halstead Snr who has contributed so much to his own achievement in the gundog world.
David says he considers Beileys the best dog he has handled to date. Beileys has had less training than previous dogs but the dog shows real natural game finding and style. This dog really wants to perform and puts in 100% every day.
There is a record still to be broken. The 2017 championship at Hi-Fly in Lancashire beckons.
2nd place : Mr David Logan with Devonvale Shadow (Labrador dog)
3rd place : Mr John Halsted with Lady Celina Carter’s Labrador dog F/T Ch Asterix Aguzannis of Chatsworth
4th place : Mrs Victoria Stanley with F/T Ch Patanavac Brough (Labrador dog)
Diploma of Merit : Mrs Thelma Blumenthal with F/T Cha Abhaile Taite Bui (Labrador dog)
Dipoloma of Merit : Mr John Barr with Derryad Moss (Labrador dog)