Where has the season gone, this was our last meeting of the season before Finals! We had a large early entry, but in the week running up to the event had a lot of dogs withdraw. We still had 36 competing on the day, including several first timers.
We returned to the scene of last year's finals, a lovely farm field in Gloucestershire. After recent rainfall the ground was soft, with a good covering of grass, kept a good length by grazing sheep.
Unfortunately we were without the luxuries of a proper toilet or Tracy and Biddy's tea stall this month, but after a mad dash to purchase a tent for porta-potty, and some kindly donated cakes, we scraped by. One very welcome, revolutionary addition we had was a chain on the back of the quad. I can see the look of confusion washing over your faces, but this simple suggestion by our Hungarian lure coursing friends, enabled Andy to drive the lure back round the course solo. I can't tell you what a relief it is not to be bounced around on the parcel rack on the back of the quad wielding a shepherd's crook!!
At this meeting we were also finally able to unveil our new lure machine, and what a beautiful, monstrous beast she is! Sadly, her superior size meant our chairman couldn't accommodate his whippet in the car as well, so little Bernie (Martinsell Bitters) was withdrawn to wait at home.
There were some great first round runs, which saw some brilliant dogs knocked out early. The course was long and though spectators could see the action up close on one side of the field, the dogs became mere specks in the distance on the back half and according to our judge that is where a lot of the real work happened. At just 12 months Hareunner Hell For Leather had a tough run up against her older half sister Harerunner Hot Gossip, having flown from slips, there was a big fall resulting in a collision, but both got up and ran on, until the youngster became unsighted. She looked for the lure and picked it back up and powered up the home straight. She did well to keep running and not get deterred, and showed some great promise for the future.
Her littermate Harerunner Halfpenny also showed great promise, drawing the season's top ranking in the mixed overs stake Winterfellin Hells Belle, and not getting totally annihilated! The dog stake had 3 yearlings making their debut too, two of which won their stakes. The dog category is shaping up to be very exciting next season.
After a quick break and course change, it was on to round two. There were a couple of very tight turns in the layout, which led to varying interpretations, with 360 degree pirouettes proving the most popular move. Special mention must go to Harerunner Hedgehunter and Moonlake Mazda, both of who tumbled in their run together, but the latter managing roll through sheep manure and give herself a thorough covering.
Another break and we were onto the third round with a mammoth 750 long course. As the course came round to the shy, you would have been forgiven in thinking the dogs were coming in to finish, until the lure swung round and did an inner lap. It was quite entertaining and fascinating to see how quickly some of the whippets picked things up. Several of them, after this second circle headed off for a third as the lure came in and finished at the stop. There were some brilliant Finals, and no easy wins. Pippa Hill should be especially pleased that her young dog Maverick Dusky Moon was runner up in a very strong stake. However I think the hardest judged was the final of the South Cerney mixed stake, as neither competitor followed the course lay out, with both trying to out smart the lure and each other!
So that is it! The final chance to qualify for the season Trophy Finals is over. I think it is fair to say everyone enjoyed the day, was awed by the new machine, and thrilled with the longer, complicated courses! Points are being totted, and invites prepared, see you next time when it gets really exciting!