Firstly, apologies for the very late notice in change of ground. It gave the committee a moment of panic, but everyone was understanding and found the field if not immediatly, with minimal assistance and in plenty of time to book in.
The new ground was an alternative field on the same farm we had been due to run on. More usually used for cattle, they had left us fresh reminders and looked on curiously over the fence. After a week or so of heavy showers, the ground was softer than we had dared hope, and I was easily able to push the gazebo pegs in without a mallet, which is the first time this year. Whilst rough along the side where vehicles drove in and parked, out where the course was run was much smoother, and there was plenty of grass cover for extra cushioning.
The weather was dry and sunny, and much warmer than expected. In fact my van dash display showed the temperature at 25°c when I left at 5pm. I believe many of our members were wearing a 'rosy glow' by the time they got home. We seem to be taking winds with us and though it wasnt arctic as it has been, there were still moments when I was sure we were about to lose a gazebo or two.
After a number of withdrawals we were still left with 49 dogs on the card with one with drawal on the day, making 2 dog stakes, 2 bitch, 3 open and two veteran, We also had 13 triallers and various guests, friends and visitors making a day trip to enjoy spectating.
First round was 530 yards with a relatively short run out followed by a quick zigzag before the lure turned across the back of the field. Particularly noteworthy were our debuting whippets Silverhare Farah's Sunspeed and Bryntreia First Love With Tervanty, both of whose partners tried to lead them astray by cutting a few corners. Another worthy of mention is Bonny Roamer At Mannerpool, just 8 weeks after giving birth to a litter of six, she was running fitter and keener than I remember her ever being.
A break and an opportunity to get acquainted with our younger guests, human, canine and avian.
After a course change, we ran more trials and puppy schooling. Mariska is slowly gaining confidence, Minnie Mouse and Zippy had their first mini-runs with the attitude of pros, Simon had his first look at a lure but was unsure which direction to focus his excitement.
For the first time we split the first round consolation dogs and used them to fully test our course, with some running the second course and some the final course. This seemed to work well, even when we have lot of triallers present many are only able to run part of a course due to age or inexperience.
Our second round was fractionally longer at 550 yards, with longer stretches between the turns. It is often said that smaller whippets turn better, however on this course the larger whippets in th Open stakes on the whole coped with the turns better than the smaller dogs and bitches. Silverhare Farah's Sunspeed really showed his potential against Winterfellin Gotta Dash, who is a top class competitor. Softouch Ever So Clever pushed Vensuter Wheal Chimes really hard, but the closest contest was between Harerunner Hell For Leather and Cheydanhar Sooelewa at Coppermow who matched each other stride for stride much of the way. I really couldn't call it from the side lines, and glad I didn't have to!
A second break, raffle, and we completed the consolation runs which also gave us the chance to run Razz and Zippo with partners and clear them for future competition. Onto the finals, we had some great runs, but my personal favourite was Sunflower Boy. He has a chequered history, and it took his owners a couple of seasons trialling him and building his confidence to compete. After 8 months away from lure coursing I had feared maybe he would have a set back, so to see him win his heat and take his place deservedly against Silverhare Foxy Sundance, this year's top Dog really delighted me.
Thank you to everyone who came out for your understanding over the last minute ground change, and for your support of the tea, cake and raffle which took £125 and £175 respectively, which pays for the super pricey loo we had to have this month!. Our meetings are going from strength to strength and thats all down to a fantastic membership, thank you!.
Next meeting is 16 July, Royal Wootton Bassett, see you all there!!
A few random images - better to follow!
Martin Abbott's pictures: