The Championship, organised by the Spaniel Club, was held this year on the Conholt Estate near Andover Hants by kind permission of the Van Vlissingen family on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd January 2008.
Baron Van Tuyll represented the family over the three day event and also attended the dinner on Tuesday evening where he made a humorous after dinner speech which was also appreciated by all present.
The Spaniel Club Chairman, F T S C member Paul Rawlings was ably assisted by club committee members, all of whom did a great job of work both before the event and during the three days, organising and doing everything possible to make a success of the trial and create a special occasion for all concerned.
Chris Green, the Head Gamekeeper on the estate, had assembled a large team of flagmen, stops and tractor drivers - all of whom did an efficient job. His planning ahead ensured a very smooth movement of people around the two areas designated for the trial.
Chris Green Gamekeeper,Jim Moyes Calor Gas,
The judges were Steve Bolton, from England, and Ivan Wilson, from Northern Ireland, who took the even numbers on the left hand side while Greg Ford, from Scotland, and Will Clulee, from England, took the odd numbers on the right hand side. The reserve judge was myself, thankfully not called upon.
All the judges have a great wealth of experience in the shooting field with years of judging, trialling and handling knowledge.
On the first day and the morning of the second, Chris Green took the field up and down a wood in tight, close beats. In the afternoon of the second and morning of the third, we were directed in tight beats around and over a small hill with short grazed tussock type grass and dead weeds. We returned to the woodland for the runoffs.
The fairly flat, easily walked woodland and good crowd control provided reasonable viewing for spectators. However, out on the grass hill viewing greatly improved. This was where most dogs had their second run. This plan allowed the judges to see work in different types of ground. This sound plan, however, was the undoing of some who had had a good first run.
Aidan Patterson and Andy Platt, Vinnie Cauldwell to the side
Within the wood, a variety of cover tested all competing dogs in equal measure. The undergrowth ranged through a sparse leaf covered floor of patchy bramble to bracken and fallen branches. Regenerated saplings had been lopped some time ago, bundled and laid in windrows in the direction of the beat. This added to the variety of cover and provided good holding for game. Pheasants were not over plentiful but a good show of rabbits making up the bag tested both the guns and the dogs. Retrieves were mainly short and simple although a couple of long shots created a chance which was well taken by a couple of dogs, the low cover actually lending itself to good marking.
Paul and Tony with Tygore Asp
Those competing from Ireland North and South were: Tim Crothers with Ft Ch Kidnais Saxon of Birdrowe who gained a Diploma of Merit, Vinnie Cauldwell with Hattonswood Dove and Paul Learmont with Tygore Asp.
Vinnie, unfortunately, struggled on a long rabbit retrieve into a wood and was "eye wiped" in his second run by brace mate Paul.
Paul had had a good first run and was going well in a long second run with retrieves on both rabbit and pheasant (four in total) but no find. Then hunting on after the "eye wipe", he had a good find on a hen bird which when shot fell over the hill out of sight. When sent, the dog on its out run flushed a cock bird that flew along the gun line and was shot by the end gun, Asp collected the wrong bird and so ended Paul’s first Championship appearance.
Judges Ivan Wilson with Greg Ford
The judging was quiet and confident with no real challenge to the undoubted experience or knowledge of the four. All have competed in the championship before and were at ease with one another and with the competitors.
The judging and placing of the dogs in the awards would probably have been quite rightly more in the hunting than in the retrieving. Dogs had a real chance on both types of ground to show their pace and style, pattern and ground treatment, and also their ability to take the cover with attitude. Those that did featured in the awards and in the gaining of Diplomas of Merit.
Overall the dogwork was fairly even but special mention must go to Andy Platt with Ft Ch Amethyst Clover who finished his first run with a good long marked retrieve on a moving bird and to Eddie Scott with Ft Ch Broomfield Rosie. The hunting ability and quiet handling meant that these two were showing championship winning class from the first run.
Then there was Ian Openshaw with Ft Ch Rosebay Blossom who challenged Clover and Rosie for top awards and Mark Clifford with Ft Ch Belveden Collingwood, and Jon Baillie’s Ft Ch Maesyronen Markettrader - all of whom must have been judged to be following close behind these leaders.
Also eye catching were Bill Leonard with Buccleuch Amber, Wesley Thomas with Ft Ch Lunarstar of Beggarsbush, and Ian English with Helmsway Holly who were probably equally marked at the end of the event but possibly carrying a minus mark for some little action the judges were not impressed by. Each of these three bitches were sired by a previous Championship winner. Amber was by Ft Ch Moonreed Flush, Lunarstar was by Ft Ch Clarburgh Art and Holly by Ft Ch Steadroc Sker, who won on this ground in 2000/1. These gained Diploma recognition but might have challenged Clover and Rosie given that little bit more opportunity to add icing to the cake, in the body of the stake.
All of these dogs put in some sound work at times in trying conditions but other than these few and the award winners there was little opportunity for a dog to lift itself above the accolade of "having had two good runs" and receiving a Diploma of Merit.
Eddie Scott takes a rabbit retrieve in classic style
This was not a championship to take chances in. The ground was such that the judges could see, almost effortlessly, each movement of dog and game. Cover had to be entered with attitude, pattern and ground treatment was there to be seen and each retrieve easily observed.
There were some dogs that looked good, as though they were doing well showing plenty of speed and style - but it was synthetic, not pleasing to the judges, so they went down through skipping over or running around the cover.
The Run Offs
The run off for first and second place was fairly clear cut. Andy Platt with Ft Ch Amethyst Clover came out on top against Eddie Scott with Ft Ch Broomfield Rosie
Then Ft Ch Broomfield Rosie ran against Ian Openshaw with Ft Ch Rosebay Blossom for second and third. They were given a long testing; Rosie winning this one. The top three award winners were all bitches.
This was then followed by a short run off for fourth and Diploma of Merit by two dogs (males) Mark Clifford with Ft Ch Belveden Collingwood and Jon Baillie with Ft Ch Maesyronen Markettrader - the decision going to Belveden Collingwood
For the Statistician
This time, 53 Springers qualified, 37 bitches and 15 dogs, including one dog qualified by Will Clulee, not competing. One open stake did not take place and two withdrawals.
Top Stud dog once again was Ft Ch Clarbugh Art with 17 runners, then Ft Ch Steadroc Sker with six runners and Ft Ch Craighaar Boris with five runners. Nineteen competitors gained recognition with four awards and 15 Diplomas of Merit presented.
E. S. S. Spaniel Championship Results
1st.....Andy Platt with Ft Ch Amethyst Clover
2nd.....Eddie Scott with Ft Ch Broomfield Rosie
3rd.....Ian Openshaw with Ft Ch Rosebay Blossom
4th.....Mark Clifford with Ft Ch BelvedenCollingwood
Wesley Thomas with Lunarstar
Diplomas of Merit to:
Aubrey Ladyman with Ft Ch Rosebay Nectar
Tim Crothers with Ft Ch Kidnais Saxon of Birdrowe
Chris Thurston-Woolnough with Ft Ch Halaze Layla of Woodash
Jon Baillie with Ft Ch Maesyronen Markettrader
A Cunningham with Spamvalley Colt
Ron Chapple with Edwardiana Della
Peter Avery with Ft Ch Deepfleet Jay
Ian English with Helmsway Honey
Simon Dixon with Ft Ch Rosebay Tara
Bill Leonard with Buccleuch Amber
Bill Johnstone with Bowmore Bobby
Ian English with Helmsway Holly
Aubrey Ladyman with Ft Ch Rosebay Bella (also Guns-choice)
Graham Devine-Jones with Rytex Retes
Wesley Thomas with Ft Ch Lunarstar of Beggarsbush