JUDGE - MIKE FLOREK, SLIPPER GEORGE SELL
Once again we met at a farm, this one was also hosting a Young Farmers event, and was home to a very sweet donkey. We had use of a 30 acre field that for better or worse provided some challenging coursing. We were lucky to have another dry day, though perhaps the ground could have benefitted from a spot of rain earlier in the week. The morning was cloudy with a very cold wind, though the sun did break through later in the day. I got home with chilblains AND sunburn which I think is a first!
This month also saw the début of Tracy's Tea Stall. With the help of Biddy, she made 80 cups of tea, uncounted coffees and sold out of a variety of home-made cakes. Altogether the stall made over £50 profit which will go a long way toward the cost of toilet hire at the next venue.
We had another fantastic entry of 46 dogs, making six 8 dog stakes, one 4 dog and one 2 dog stakes. The day started smoothly, the new more 'self-service' system for booking in allowed Sharon and I to concentrate on measuring.
First to test the course were some trial dogs. Finn returned for a second month and new dog Berlioz from Kazakhstan had his first look at a lure and took to it like a duck to water.
The first round started as a 610 meter course. The first part was made up of long straights and open turns, which really allowed the dogs to show their top speed, while the latter half added in a series of tight wrenches that caught out many of the dogs in spectacular fashion! Those that turned with the lure gave the watchers some heart-stopping moments, as they appeared to run full speed at a telegraph pole. There were covered eyes and audible gasps on more than one occasion!
Unfortunately, after just a few rounds, the combination of the length of grass and length of course caused the club's new machine to blow up. A back-up machine saved the day, but at the end of the second stake there was no option but to shorten the course by 110 meters and adjust some turns. That wasn't the end of the technical issues , but I shan't harp on about those. Thankfully we have enough people armed with tool-kits to sort it all out.
The first round saw some great matches. Mulcair Must Contain Nutz (newly competing after last month's trial) with Veruglas Coursing Camomile, Gills Little Gem and Pewtergrey Georgette, Winterfellin Tinkers Pride and Laguna Lucie Lockett were all closely run. Special mention must be made of Dare to Fly, he ran solo but had the best run of the morning.
After earlier delays and a ticking clock, we had a short lunch break, reversed the course and resumed with more trials with a couple more SWC first-timers. We also had a break-through moment with reluctant Runnel Forget Me Not, when she finally took an interest in bag-chasing. She ran a short straight, but she ran it with such enthusiasm that she somehow packed in twists and tumbles. Seeing her go was the high-light of my day, and for a few others, I know! Go Crumpet!!!
Sadly, though the grass cover was thick, the hard ground underneath took its toll on a number of dogs, who withdrew injured from the second round. Stand-out course of the second round goes to the two Montyjack lads, Midnight Rambler (Luke) and Moonshade (Miles). We all know Luke's form, so to see Miles, who has just come of age push him so hard gave us a taste of things to come! Stamina that comes with maturity just gave Luke the edge on the uphill section. This time!
For the third round, a new figure of 8 course was laid. Sadly another couple of dogs were withdrawn leaving just 4 runs in this round. All dogs ran brilliantly, but there were some unexpected results. Both Penny Paynes Blue Grey and Laguna Lively Leveret have picked up some bad habits and a reputation for cheating of late, but both surprised by putting their wily ways to one side and running hard and fast to win their stakes.
Well done all the winners and runners up. Speedy recovery to all injured. To sum it all up, it was a challenging day for people and dogs, but it was a good day in the end. Good Courses, good company and good cake!
See you all in June!