LOWER HOOK FARM, ROYAL WOOTTON BASSETT, SN4 8EF
Once again I cannot believe how extraordinarily blessed we have been. With weeks of next to no rain, and higher than average temperatures the ground nationwide has suffered. As the meeting date came closer the committee feared concrete running conditions, and prayed for a miracle.... well we got it! Just 4 days before, the heavens opened and a day off torrential downpours, and a pause in the heatwave gave our field some spring and turned the grass from brown to green.
The weather and the start of the day was surprisingly cool, and many members could be seen in Sporting Whippet Club fleeces and hoodies. For most of the day the temperatures were favourable and accompanied by a gentle breeze that was appreciated by the dogs. It wasn't until later in the day that the strength of the sun really kicked in. Thankfully Susie's generosity with emergency sun lotion saved Sharon and I from our customary post-SWC pink faces!
Once more we had another large entry, with 48 on the card and 46 running after a couple of late withdrawals. This made 2 stakes in each category. We also had a many dogs trialling and several friends and family and visitors come for a day out and to learn about what we do. Among our triallers little Wren ran her first full course like a pro, Razz had another great solo run. Mariska and Simon worked on their confidence and out honoury whippets 'Furry Knickers' Fern and Bletchley the deerhound had a try together. It was also our pleasure to welcome Vanna to SWC, whose young girl Amelia cleared for future competition as did Pauline's youngster Peaches.
Our other trialler of note was Duncan! Having gone through training with slips, he did an admiral job Slipping our trial dogs under George's supervision. With his calm and confident manner with the dogs, no one would ever have known this was his first meeting. It was safe to say that his training has stuck and he will be in charge of Slipping at a meeting soon.
Our first round course was 480 yards, and, well it was one that you had to be there for! It started off in an ordinary fashion, doing a standard circuit – until it looped back round and seemed to reverse itself! I'd love to see a drawing of this course as I never did quite work out the shape of it. I think most of our experienced dogs would agree with what I have said. There was quite a lot of cheating going on as the dogs exited the shy, but these cheats soon ran into trouble as they ran too far off course. The recent sun also seems to have gone to a couple of competitors heads. Winterfellin Cheeky Rascal lived up to his name and monkeyed about, Harerunner Hawkridge remembered to maintain his enthusiasm the whole way round, whist his poor brother ran flat out, straight into a cone and sent himself tumbling. However, among those who weren't using or losing their brains rather than their eyes, there were some cracking runs. Run of the first round had to be between Combeholt Celestine and Veruglas Rosemarys Rival, so close! V. Rosemarys Rival has never ran so well, it was a pity after that performance she had to go out.
Second round was reverse and adjusted and I still had no idea where it went! This round saw a couple of real 'clash of the titans' meetings. For the boys, Winterfellin Gotta Dash and Silverhare Foxy Sundance – this pair always astonish and there is never any certainty which way the flag will go. For the girls, a pair I have been waiting with anticipation to see together for several months., Cheydanhar Sooleawa at Coppermow and Ameesha Pina Colada. They certainly didnt disappoint, this time the win was CSaC's but considering the serious injury APC suffered so recently, its truly astonishing that she pulled off such a faultless run.
The finals – guess what! Another shape I couldnt decipher from the sidelines, but I do know it gave some brilliant sport. Moonlake Motorway Cop and Softouch Ever So Clever at Derohan, two bigger, boys really used their power and every ounce of what they had. Florancy First Footing and Harerunner Halfpenny grunted and yelled back and forth like your modern tennis players, I dont think either have ever wanted it more. Combeholt Celestine and Laguna Lawns Lupin, two of our smaller and newer girls to the field had a fabulous battle. Shock of the day came from Cheydanhar Sooleawa being beaten for the first time yet! Dharmadhatu Saffron Moon was her conquerer whilst her littermate D. Babbling Brook was a worthy runner up to the unstoppable Silverhare Foxy Sundance. Laguna Lace's Loki, in his first final and winning with style against Sunflower Boy who rather forgot what his job was. Our veterans – we had two making their debut this month, old rivals Moonlake Mercedes and Harerunner Hot Gossip. A win wasn't M. Mercedes this time, but on her way back from injury and season, she certainly showed she still has all it takes. Dog of the day, if we awarded it, must go to H. Hot Gossip. She has competed nearly every meeting since the Club was founded and this is the first final she has been in !!
All in all it was another fantastic meeting. All our members did their bit to make the day run smoothly and more often be full of laughs and fun. Thanks to everyone for helping, but especially Susie and Amanda for the teas and cake - £82 to pay for next months hot-box! Lilah for the raffle £162, wow!! And most of all to the field team who make all this happen on the day, and for making some super courses.
Look forward to doing it all again in four weeks.
MARTIN ABBOT'S PHOTOS: