On Thursday 23rd November, UGS SWSH held a AA 16 dog AV retriever FT at The Canal Game Shoot, Hawkhurst by kind invitation of Francis Briley. The Judges were Roger Wade, Di Stevens, Julia Smith and Bill Gardiner. The weather was overcast, but the clouds gradually broke into a lovely sunny day.

The Stake was walked up, with the possibility of a duck drive at the end if needed. Game, consisting of pheasant and some partridge, were flushed steadily throughout the day thanks to Frannie’s team of beaters and stops steadily blanking them into the cover crops. Guns shot brilliantly giving a steady flow of birds to try the dogs. Our thanks go to Guns Dave Bevan, Johnny Boscowen, Oscar Corbett, Martin Fuller, Matt Hawkins, Monty Malthouse and Jamie Shaw.

We set out on foot from the Beaters Hut and reached the first beat after a good walk. The cover was a low mixed crop and we lost five dogs fairly quickly.

Moving on to a long field of roots, another three dogs went as we completed the first round. Last to go, number 16 Jason Mayhew was asked for a hen pheasant across the line to the left which took some careful handling. The second round progressed quickly and a lengthy retrieve (in more ways than one) on a running partridge ended with Barry Harvey’s dog going out behind Charlotte Hammick’s yellow Muscatelle Calypso. Third round Stewart North’s chocolate dog Northglen Crumble claimed a two dog eye-wipe on a hen shot behind the line. He then followed this with a smart cast into the wood for another hen bird.

Moving on to the next field of roots, the Guns were shooting into the sun and we were down to just five dogs. One dog took a while to pick a partridge out to the left of the line and then a wounded pheasant caused quite a commotion for the remaining four dogs. Almont picked by Stewart North, the bird flipped and ran behind the line in the close cover. Reuben Corbett’s black dog Elmertown Blaser of Sussexsharp made a valiant effort to claim it as we held our breaths, only to be distracted off the scent by a live bird. Three dogs were discarded and Reuben was given one more retrieve to complete the trial.

I stood in for Mel Brooks due to her being unwell and took on the job of Dog Steward with great trepidation. This was quite unnecessary.

Paula Graystone had given up a run the previous day to manage the card and she and Lindsay Williams completed all the organising behind the scenes so that the day started really smartly. I was blessed with a team of helpers who were able to take on any job during the day and get it done without further reference. So I send warm thanks to Matt Dennis, Julia Peat, Andree Edwards and Pete Aston, and especially to Paula for being a constant backup in the gallery and of course our ‘number one star’, caterer Bren van Laun for the truly wonderful goody bags (my gluten free sausage pickle rolls were the best ever).


1st Mr Reuben Corbett’s Lab Dog Elmertown Blazer of Sussexsharp, winner of the Gregson Challenge Cup

COM Mr Stewart North’s Lab Dog Northglen Crumble, winner of the Somerset  Perpetual Challenge Trophy for Guns’ Choice

COM Ms Charlotte Hammick’s Lab Bitch Muscatelle Calypso, winner of the Nook Shot Trophy for best looking Dog/Bitch in the Awards

COM Mr John Baker’s Wauniago Corbier of Jathmea, handled by Jason Mayhew, winner of the Simpson Perpetual Chaallenge Cup for the best Gamekeeper or Professional Handler, and the Loch Moy Challenge Bowl for the best Novice Dog or Bitch not the Winner.

– Matt Dennis