DRYLEAZE FARM, SIDDINGTON, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, GL7 6DB
Wow what a day! The 2016 Finals were the antithesis of our 2015 Finals last October, and were the true highlight and climax of a great season. The best of everything was saved for last, ground, courses, atmosphere, weather, raffle, cake and last but no means least running from the dogs. I really can't thank all those who came enough for making the day such a special and memorable one. I hope you will all treasure the memories as much as I will.
Before I continue, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge all those dogs who qualified but were unable to compete. Sadly we were missing so many qualifiers that we even ran out of reserves in all Finals stakes and were left with several byes first round. All those who couldn't make it thoroughly deserved their spots, and though they were missed we hope to see them fit and fresh again in the new season.
Last October we battled closed roads and thick fog to get to our polo pitch where visibility was zilch. This year dawned bright and clear and our farm field at Siddington couldn't have been in better condition. The prolonged spell of hot weather has left ground hard as concrete in many places, but a few days of heavy rain and a good length to the grass left our meeting place ideal. Through the day the sun gained some strength getting pleasantly warm for the time of year.
We welcomed the return of some of last month's new triallers. Some of these showing they will need extra tuition, others showing they are naturals and I expect we will see them in competition early next season, and you never know, maybe in the 2017 Finals! Alongside the main Stakes and Puppy Stakes, we also ran two Supporters stakes, and for those whippets who didn't quite make it as qualifiers it was lovely to give them the opportunity to shine.
First round was a design that made me feel quite dizzy watching, looping back round on itself so i didn't know where it was starting, ending or heading even after watching all morning. It was a good test of stamina at just shy of 700 yards, with twists and turns aplenty. Although many dogs ran solo or unjudged due to the large number of withdrawals the quality of the runs was undeniable.
The highlight of the first round was a blinding run between two SWC debutantes in the puppy bitch stake, Licketysplit One f A Kind and Laguna Lawns Lupin. A real pair of pocket rockets, it was a shame either had to go out, I think these two will meet again and on another the result will go the other way.
Having completed the first round, we stopped for a short lunch break and altered the course. This round was the shortest of the day but incorporated some more testing turns. It was really pleasing to see in our Finals, which is a showcase of the Club's most talented dogs, that all were following the lure superbly. With the course layout and lure driving excellence keeping the dogs' focus, any tendencies to cut corners and predict courses were quashed from even the wisest of competitors. The majority of the dogs coped with the twisting course with ease and natural skill, Little Rosie in the Support stake showing a particular move that I am not sure any of us have seen before. If this were gymnastics she would have it named after her! Only a couple of our biggest competitors felt the challenge, with poor Coppermow Blue Arrow totally face planting as the momentum of his body was too great when his legs changed direction. Thankfully he wasn't hurt (not even his pride) and he continued the course with barely a stride lost.
Another break, and time for tea, cake and raffle. Well what can I say, the bakers really surpassed themselves this time. Viennese Whirls, gin & tonic cupcakes, chocolate cakes and brownies galore and meringues were just a few of the delights on offer. As for the raffle, Lilah once again did a fabulous job selling tickets to the crowd who had been tantalised by the scattering of 'mystery prizes' on offer. With the mystery prizes ranging in value from £1 to £70 there was a real sense of anticipation in the air, and a certain amount of anxiety among those with other-halves at home to chose the appropriate gift for. I hope the recipients of the top prizes of Moet Champagne and Penhaligon's perfume enjoy their prize or the smile on that lucky-someone's face when they passed it on. I know of at least one disappointed girlfriend at home, sorry! The Tea & Cake Stand raised £90.50 and the raffle an enormous £175, which leaves lots over from paying for the loos to go into next year.
And so to the final of Finals! As they say the cream rises to the top, and in slips we had the best of the best with with the top 2 seeded* Dog, Bitch and Open competitors going head to head. For the Veteran it was a Shandril Final and I know their breeder, our very own Chairman Sharon Dalgleish was extremely proud. At this stage in the competition there can be no losers and being a reserve and the end of such a strong season is an achievement to be celebrated.
For worthy winners we had special prizes. Thank you all who stayed for the presentation to applaud and congratulate, it all adds to make the atmosphere. The winner of the Go Bye Trophy – as voted for by members and lucky recipient of £100 Joules vouchers (kindly donated by Fleur Chant) was Biddy Trouton. The Winner of The Whearoyd Trophy for Top Whippet and also The Harerunner Trophy for Dogs 18.5” – 20” was Elaine Jenkinson's inimitable Winterfellin Gotta Dash,who would be as well named Winterfellin Whatta Dog!. The Winner of the Shandril Trophy For Bitches 17.5” - 18.5” was the youngest Finalist competing, Nick & Kate Bent's Ryemeadow's Zara. Winner of the Sporting Whippet Club Stake for Bitches Over 18.5” & Dogs Over 20” was Dark Wing who finished the season unbeaten. Lastly but no means least, coming out from retirement to take the Laguna Trophy fpr Veterans 7+ was Shandril Moonchild. All winners received their respective Trophy /certificate and rosettes, a presentation sash and a gift of Doggy Boho collar and engraved tags.
A few extra dogs need special mention. Little Rosie, who gave me several more grey hairs and a mii heart attack! Laguna Lucie Lockett, our only dog to compete in all 3 season Finals all our puppies, who if like the 2015 crop will dominate in the new year, and Finaly Harerunner Halfpenny. Had we a Golden Raspberry/ Wooden Spoon Award she would have got it, for having more 0s on the 2016 League Tables than any other. However, better late than never she found her running legs, winning one of the Supporters stakes in style. Lets hope she doesn't take these new found legs off over the Winter and forget where she has put them.
And one final word before I sign off my last report....
THANKYOU to Mr Bryan Marshall for capturing the memories:
*(from those present)