We were back at one of our favourite grounds, the polo pitch at the stunning Englefield Estate. Last season we had a bit of a shock when we arrved to find the ground bare and parched. This year the ground was back to being carpeted in thick short grass, and thanks to recent rains soft enough for me to push fence stakes in by hand!
The weather gods were kind to us yet again. Despite torrential down pours the night before and forecasts of showeres, we were blessed with unbroken sunshine for the day itself.
After a quiet June always comes a busy July, and this year was no different. We had 7 stakes made of 42 dogs, and that was after 7 dogs were withdrawn! The day prior to our meeting we were informed that due to a polo match we would not be able to have any dogs running before 11 am, however on arrival we found the polo had been cancelled. We perhaps would have been able to start a little earlier than we did, but somewhere along the line the message had got twisted so a number of competitors didn't arrive until 11. Apologies for the delayed start and hiccups meaning trials had to be limited, however the competition must take priority.
The first round was a 640 yard course incorporating some challenging turns. The running order was switched this month and we began with the Open stakes for taller whippets. It is often said the bigger dogs struggle to turn, however some of our biggest dogs showed an extraordinary agility on the turns on this course, Coppermow Blue Arrow particularly impressing on his run.
Second stake was Open bitches saw an interesting run between Winterfellin Rosabelle and Winterfellin Vanilla Sky. Rosabelle having bagan with amazing speed and follow half way round suddenly went the wrong way, leaving Vanilla Sky who had freestyled the whole time to go on and get the flag.
Next up were the Dogs. Sunflower Boy running competitively for the first time in over a year, ran solo but still managed to put enough pressure on to nearly catch the lure twice. Unfortunately for Moonlake Miles To Go To Mannerpool, the lure string broke about 1/3 way into his run with Barmoll Bears Boy. Where he had been running with speed and drive, on the re-run he started poorly and after anticipating the first part of the course didn't regain his speed or focus until too late.
Onto the bitches and the start of some impressive gymnastics! Ameesha Pina Colada set a trend leap-frogging Diamond Web, a move many more tried to carry out, some successfully, some less so. Cloia Aur Milgi and Silverhare Full Speedahead, two fired up little ladies both let the excitement of long lay-offs get to their heads and forget their manners with each other. Lavebella Diamond Destiny and Winterfellin Merry Mayhem had an incredibly close run, both turning with the lure as if on rails, it was a shame one had to go out. Moonlake Mercedes had a great first half until she remembered she was a cheat so Florancy First Footing took the win.
Talking of gymnastics, our gutsy veterans Laguna Lauras Livius and Laguna Lolita's Lawn were at it again!
Being relatively late when we finished the first round, we had a shortened lunch break, but in that half hour still managed to fit in a course change, birthday celebrations, Prosecco and a couple haircuts (thanks Sapphira)!
Second round was a slightly longer 680 yards, and gave some great runs and some disappointments. Harerunner Halfpenny having got to second round with a bye seemed to change her mind after setting off with gusto and returned to the shy, whilst her partner Somersets Racer Two bought her 'A' game and deservedly claimed her place in the final.
Winterfellin Gotta Dash and Dazzling Whiteband had a super run, very tightly matched and not one I'd have wanted to judge!
Ameesha Pina Colada and Cloia Aur Milgi went off fast and explosive, sadly APC lost it when she tackled one of the marking cones, which is a shame, I'd have liked to see the rest of that run play out.
Winterfellin Merry Mayhem and Florancy First Footing had a lovely run as would be expected form these two. Laguna Lucie Lockett brought her speed but forgot the controls , badly over shooting the early turns.
A second break and the raffle and we were on to the finals. Dark Wing won his second stake in a row, beating Coppermow Blue Arrow who ran better than he has in months. Winterfellin Vanilla Sky bought all she had to the field when it counted and reminded us why she was a winner in our 2014 Season Finals. Winterfellin Gotta Dash and Barmoll Bears Boy met for the second month in a row and it now stands at one all! I think we will see these two go head to head again! Winterfellin Merry Mayhem got ger first stake win, against Cloia Aur Milgi who should be very pleased taking runner up in her first competition after a year's worth of injuries and recovery. Welcome back Bunny! Harerunner Hell For Leather is going from strength to strength with her win taking her straight to the top of the bitch league. Laguna Lolitas Lawn's win showed why she is top Veterans, and Shandril Moon Walker won his first stake competing as veteran.
All in all it was a very enjoyable, successful day. Thank you for being part of it!
See you next time
Thanks to Bryan Marshall for the fantastic pictures below: