Brand House Farm, Avening nr Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Our first meeting of the new season saw the continuation of our 2015 finals after they had to be aborted early in October. Sadly a few of the dogs were unable to return to continue the competition. Gills Little Gem at Coppermow came in season, Moonlake Merecedes suffered a nasty cut to her hock just the day before, and Dashing Dexter's owner Pippa Hill was too unwell to attend. We missed them all and look forward to seeing them back out soon.
The running ground at Brandhouse is vast but challenging, with its hills and undulations making it difficult to lay out courses that spectators could see. Young trees had also been planted at intervals across the field that made for interesting natural obstacles. An area long and narrowish along the back wall of the field was designated as the best spot and the field was laid and first course set.
As members seemed to arrive in their droves, I confess to becoming a bit frazzled trying to keep up with all the different admin tasks involved with the first meet of a season. I seemed to have it all organised and logical in preparation, but in reality all went a bit pear-shaped!
I missed the first rounds of trials, and then rushed to get my dog ready, as she was first up to be judged. As I was stood at the sidelines hanging on grimly to my hound from hell, I saw the last of the bye rounds stop part way and a pulley fire from the ground, and waited with heart in my mouth and a dreadful sense of deja vu as lure gremlins seemed to grumble. Thankfully the problem was simple snagging and nothing more sinister, and Penny Paynes Blue Grey and Vensuter Wheal Chimes were out of slips and the judging was under way. The lure once more got snagged on a pulley, so the course was cut short, but enough work had been put in for the judge to call a result.
With most stakes having run their first rounds in October, we ran through the card quickly. There were two 8 dog supporting stakes with runs in 1st round, and it was with the second of these that things started to get good. Silverhare Full Speedahead and Bonny Roamer at Mannerpool were very closely matched, and the best run of the morning so far (according to the judge!) came from Ryemeadows Roo at Lavebella and Nipalong Minkie Moon, somersaulting tumble aside!
After a break, early lunch, a course change we were onto round 2. The new course did not play to the favour of the lure-wise, with several of our Finalists, including 2 of last season's winners, running on the inside, or alongside the lure, and for some not near the lure at all! In fact, Dawesychoice Dream On managed to get in front of the lure to catch it, and the power of the new machine carried her a fair distance as she refused to be parted from her prize.
We had 3 supporting stakes for puppies (12 – 24 months) kindly sponsored by Sarah Layfield (Winterfellin) who came out and shone on this course! For some of the puppies, it was their first time behind a lure, but every single one of them ran fast, hard and true, showing that all the finalists need to buck up their ideas for next season!
Another break and course change and a chance to enjoy the delights on offer at Tracy and Biddy's Tea Stall. No-bake-chocolate-cake, meringue, brownie, coffee cake, carrot cake all washed down by a much needed mug of tea. That is only the bits I sampled too, and I'm very disappointed that though that is quite varied, it doesn't count as a balanced diet, because I could get used to that. I'm guessing everyone else brought their sweet-tooth as instructed, as the stall earnt £120 for the club. We also had a bumper raffle. With some super prizes and Lilah's salesmanship on the tickets, the raffle raised a whopping £170. We are very grateful for both, and it will all go back into making the club bigger and better.
And so on to the finals! A tricky course with some very tight turns threw some to run wide, with others turning on a sixpence it was a course that really separated some of the pairings while others ran as if still coupled. Again, the next generation of lure coursers out did themselves, with Ryemeadows Zara and Harerunner Hell For Leather particularly impressing.
Thank you to everyone who helped pack up and stayed for the presentation and make the moment a memorable one for all the winners. Congratulations to Sarah Layfield with the Winterfellins - Hells Belle & Tinkers Pride getting awarded joint TOP DOG and Trophy Winner & Runner up respectively, & Winterfell Lady Grey also Runner up, Chris & Julia Cloke with Wheatroyd Blissful Chimes taking home a Trophy & Vensuter Wheal Chimes Runner up,James Newman & Elizabeth Moriarty's Laguna Lively Leveret and Ken Chandlers Laguna Lauras Laertes also taking the Trophies. Well done to all other Winners & Runners up - next year one of the tropies maybe coming home with you!
Here is to 2016, and may it be even better than 2015 now we have Big Red on side!