After a number of late withdrawals we were left with 43 competing dogs, in 8 stakes, making it our busiest meet of the season. The ground at Royal Wootton Bassett was a new one for Sporting Whippet Club, it was a smaller field than many we have ran but was more than ample for us. It was also easy to find being just off the M4 and equally accessible for competitors from all directions, though some members still found a way to get lost! The field had been recently grazed by cattle – the pungent evidence of which Di's Badger bought off the field with him after a badly timed slip. Although there was a good covering of grass, the ground underneath was inevitably hard after the prolonged period of hot and dry weather we have had.
In the run up to the meeting forecasters had been predicting a heatwave over the weekend, thankfully this pushed back a few days leaving us with a warm but largely overcast day, which was much preferred by the dogs and (most) of their humans.
The first round course was a good course made of sweeping gentle bends round the field. I had concerns that the run out going along the fence-line would encourage the smart dogs to cheat, however I was happily largely proven wrong.
Due to the odd numbers of entrants, most stakes had byes or double byes in the first round. Several of the double bye runs actually turned out to be the better runs of the day, so it was nice that after giving star performances neither dog from those pairs had to go out. The Judge' s run of the morning was the double bye from the Nine Elms Bitch stake between Ryemeadows Zara and Harerunner Hell For Leather.
Penny Paynes Blue Grey was lucky to have a bye to get her through, after Winterfellin Hells Bell snatched at the lure and a piece detached, she decided to retrieve that bit, eventually realising it wasn't moving and putting in a real turn of speed across the course in attempt to intercept the moving lure.
However, the the most awesome moves came from a two-legged person in the shape of Elizabeth Johnstone. her diving rugby tackle, employed to capture the wayward Phena was quite a spectacle.
Second round was a longer course incorporating a couple of sections of tighter turns. There were again some truly superb runs.
Winterfellin Merry Mayhem, like Penny Paynes Blue Grey in the first round was almost foiled by a piece of loose lure that had been pulled off, but she stayed true to the course and did enough to earn herself the win, despite Gills Little Gem at Coppermow giving her best run in a long time.
Cloia Aur Milgi and Little Rosie... what can I say other than 'blink and you miss them'?! It had to have been the fastest run of the day, and although Little Rosie got knocked out, she gave an almighty battle and should be very pleased with her SWC debut.
Winterfellin Gotta Dash surprised by not getting into his final, which is a first, but still gave a typical quality run, keeping on top of the lure so driver Mike was under real pressure and sending the pulley marker cones flying.
Before the Finals we held the raffle. Can I thank all those who donated such lovely prizes. Bottles and sweet treats are always popular, but the hare cushion and rosette board were particularly sought after this month.
So the Finals, a changed course, and some cracking runs. It seems like each month the competitors just get better and better. It was a real delight to see Cloia Aur Milgi in the final second month in a row, this time going one better and getting a win, after all her injury troubles last season. Ryemeadows Zara and Ameesha Pina Colada are both going from strength to strength and are super little bitches.
Pippa Hill had a very successful day, her two boys Dashing Dexter and Maverick Dusky Moon taking winner and runner up respectively after a very fast run, and Shandril Perfect Storm also getting runner up in her first competition as Veteran.
Shandril Moon Walker won his second veteran final after a lack-lustre first round run, and Shandril Moon Child won her stake after coming out of retirement.
Penny Paynes Blue Grey handed Dark Wing a win having withdrawn with injury, not that he needed any help! Having started the season with a win, things have been a bit quiet for Moonlake Motorway Cop of late so it was god to see him back on top, and congratulations to Rowangarth Black Pearl at Mannerpool coming in as runner up, I believe it might be the first time she has made an SWC stake final?
Moonlake Make A wish made runner up to Derohan Bronze Angel who proved to be a force to be reckoned with on her debut with the Club. If we had a 'Dog of the Day' award, I'd have given it to her. The mid-air spin that she landed still running left spectators speechless.
It really was a day of great sport from the little dogs, and this is when our triallers also deserve to get a special mention, as they are the sport of the future and it is looking great!! Bronte once more came out and proved any doubters wrong, such a special little girl. Ernie has the dog's quaking in their boots as they anticipate the extra level he will be bringing to the competition soon, and Murphy ran a lovely course in company for the first time, thanks to Finn for stepping up and showing him the way.
All in all it was a really lovely day, so thanks again to all of you who made it what it was.
Hope to see you all in September, which will be you last opportunity to qualify for this year's Finals. Its not too late to secure an invite, so do come along, regular dogs, newbies and all.
See you then!
PS MORE PICTURES WILL BE ADDED OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS