What a season for Margot. Although I was disappointed not to get many runs I was very pleased with Margot’s performance throughout the season. Her first run was not until 23rd and 24th October at Windsor in the UGS Two Day Open. We were privileged to walk up through the deer park over the two days with a drive to start in dense woodland with high bracken. Margot did not put a foot wrong. She had some challenging retrieves that she made look so easy. A nice eye wipe on a partridge, followed by a wing tipped partridge that she took beautifully whilst another dog was being handled close by. On day two she had a blind pigeon in woodland and had to be handled out of sight. She took every command perfectly and again made the retrieve look very easy. At one point on day two we had a dry run with three other dogs. Margot was the only dog who didn’t ask questions. It was on fairly open ground and the dogs were in full sight. She got on and did her work making the other dogs look sticky. She had a marked hen bird on day two in high white grass. Her marking is exceptional and she nailed that retrieve perfectly even though she couldn’t have seen the fall. The result was a third place and a cup for best marking dog.
Our second trial was at Bowhill in the URC two day on 30th and 31st October. We were number 1 and our first retrieve was probably the toughest over the two days. Five birds were shot, one had both legs down and flew on to the right into a fir wood. We were sent for the furthest bird over a fence, down a bracken valley, up the other side, over another fence and another 80 yards into white grass. She did it in one cast, one right command and a back command! Quite incredible! Her second retrieve was closer but the bird was out of sight – still approximately 150 yards. The fence at this point nearest us was higher as the ground dropped away and she hit herself as she banged into it. Not perturbed she turned round and fought her way through the fence between the stock fencing and the higher strands. Again she had a good memory of where she thought the bird had fallen and I just had to hunt her into it as it had fallen down the bank from the fall. On her route back the cliff had fallen away creating a sheer drop and it was impossible to navigate so she had to find her way back to an area where the valley was passable. Margot’s claim to fame in this trial was eye wiping David Lissett handling King Charles III dog who subsequently won the IGL Championship in December! It was a partridge which had fallen by a high stone wall but the route there was tricky on an incline covered in bracken where the dogs had to take a straight line on a diagonal gradient. She made it look easy! Day two was fairly uneventful just needing one more bird to pick to finish her trial which was a hen bird tucked into the base of a dry stone wall. She did it in one cast. Subsequent handlers who had similar retrieves struggled to get their dogs to hold the area of the base of the stone wall as the wind was not in their favour. The result this time was a second giving Margot a B qualification for the Championships.
Our next two day open with the Kent Surrey and Sussex on 6th and 7th November again at Windsor walking through the deer park. Once more she didn’t put a foot wrong, had a nice eye wipe and made blind hares look like a walk in the park! On day two she was in line for three hours without getting a retrieve! Eventually we retrieved two hares which she took in one cast. The result this time was Fourth.
We had a couple of other runs again looking very smart but being unlucky on pricked birds where we went out first dog on a runner and on another occasion not finding a bird in a wood because I held her in the wrong area (although we didn’t know that at the time!)
Margot was a pleasure to run again this year. She is a very special dog that I believe only comes along once in a lifetime. I was so disappointed not to qualify for the IGL this year as I felt she had proved herself sufficiently.
This sport of field trialling is a testament to our ability to continue to train, remain calm and persevere because one day the stars do align and our dreams do come true!
My thanks once again go to Guy Bennett of Halverholme Gundogs as my coach, without his patience, support and perseverance I wouldn’t be competing at this level, my dear friend Laura Hill who trusted me with Margot and puts up with me on our various trips throughout the year and the rest of the group of friends I train with (you know who you are) who give me moral support and encouragement.
As always my dogs are fed on Taste of the Ocean dog food supplied by Bentleys Dog Food which keeps them in excellent condition for working and competing.
I am somewhat proud to announce our team Style over Substance won The Cowdray Charity Team Challenge yesterday. Laura Hill invited me, Wendy Glue and Patti Money-Coutts to make up her team. The event organised by Jason and Anna Mayhew has so far raised over £4,000 for the air ambulance. We had some stiff competition with Liz Taylor, Jayne Coley, James Bailey and Clare Raymond coming second and Di Stevens, Ellena Swift Nunneley, Simon Capstick (one of my favourite Judges!!!) and Kevin Haynes third. John Cardno was top dog with Laura Hill gaining equal points. I can’t think our team enough for making the day so memorable and enjoyable. Our dogs did us proud.
There are many thank yous and I do hope I don’t forget anyone. Sponsors for the event gave so generously:
- Cowdray Polo
- Skinners field and trial
- Acme Whistles
- Howard Rudkin of Fullpip Dummy Launchers based in Cambridgeshire
- James Martin Chef
- Adw Gundog Supplies
- The Countrymans Weekly
- Squire Editions ltd
A massive thank you to The Cowdray Estate for hosting the event
Our Judges were superb, Heather Bradley, Barry Taylor, Colin Pelham, in Jason’s words, the legend John Stubbs (who is now another of my favourite Judges!) and Alan Buckland. The whole event was organised to support the Kent Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Charity. There were so many helpers who generously gave their time to enable the handlers to enjoy their sport. Our team “ Style over Substance” are so grateful to Paul Dukes, Jane Carnaghan and Chris Marshal for organising two days of training beforehand to give us confidence for the day. We really appreciate your support. Cunning Plan pictures (Pete Riches) came all the way from Suffolk to Midhurst to spend the day taking photos enabling us to savour our memories. Olivia Cresswell was out team cheer leader who provided great company and carried our spare water and supplies around the course for us for which we are very grateful.
Lastly I want to say a massive thank you to my wonderful friends - aren’t I the lucky one!
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