16 Dog Novice Stake for AV Retrievers on the 20th January 2018 at Camfield Place, Hatfield, Hertfordshire by kind permission of the Camfield Estate Company
Judges: Mr Phil Alan (A3), Mr Roger Ketley (B2815), Ms Clare Baker (NP3700) and Ms Vanessa King (NP3609)
Our last trial of the season was a 16 dog novice retriever at Camfield Place, Hatfield by the very kind permission of the Camfield Estate Company. Our hosts for the day were Ian and Glen McCorquodale and Ian had kindly joined us for the pre-trial introductions and made the presentations at the end of the day. In previous years we had been lucky with the weather, but unfortunately this year, our luck had run out. The rain was falling during the introductions and apart for a short period mid-morning, fell continuously all day. Judges for the day were Phil Allen, Rodger Ketley, Vanessa King and Clare Baker.
The guns lined out with their backs to the lake for the first drive and dropped birds on grass, in woodland and some in the margins of the lake. Unlike in previous years, the first drive was quite light and as a result, some dogs still needed to complete their first round after all the birds were picked. For the second drive the guns lined out along a woodland track and shot birds dropped behind in a mixture of woodland ground cover. This provided challenging retrieves for the dogs with the judges able to stand back and send dogs over a brook and into the woodland to pick the birds. By the time all birds had been picked on this drive we had lost a number of dogs for different reasons and the judges took 8 forward to sit on the final drive, again in woodland.
After a long wait while beaters blanked the surrounding cover into this drive, birds started to dribble over the guns in ones and two’s. The dribble very quickly turned into a flood as birds were dropping all around the dogs. The guns had got their eye in and were on form, making this the heaviest drive of the three. All eight dogs were tested to the extreme for steadiness with the handlers showing their relief once the drive was over. Judges set about giving each dog another two retrieves, losing a few of them on the way. After a quick huddle, they shook hands and declared the trial over.
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