With a postcode that many Sat Navs didn't recognise, some of us had quite a protracted tour of the picturesque villages of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire before arriving at our venue, but WOW, what a ground! Thanks Patrick and Janie Dear for the use of the polo pitch, there was good coverage of short grass and the most spectacular views. As our new lure machine is still being built, we couldn't have wished for better conditions, and our old machine ran without a hitch. The ground underneath the grass was still hard, so the committee advised stopper pads were wrapped as a precaution.
It was nice to see many new faces come to watch and trial. Judging the performance of some of the youngsters having a go, next season is hotting up already! After trials, we started the competition with the bitch stakes, and several of the more experienced were cutting corners. As there was a long run out, and the dogs were so fast, the lure had to be kept far enough ahead to prevent them hitting the pulley at speed and getting hurt, which didn't work in favour of the lure-wise. Due to odd numbers of entries, and a few late withdrawals, we had several byes in the first round, for which many should be thankful! Laylas Lady of the Night and Winterfellin Tinkers Pride came out with a fantastic run. LLOTN was unlucky to meet WTP on her debut at SWC, as her run was worthy of a stake win – she will be one to watch next time!
The Veteran stake added the spice to the first round. Monelli Mississippi, having got over-exuberant in slips and back-flipping over his much smaller opponent was not allowed to forget his ungentlemanly behaviour. Polkavuggo Jess was disqualified after berating him for his impertinence the full length of the course. Laguna Lolita's Lawn, running for the first time since her litter, battled valiantly with the much larger Winterfell Lady Grey who was running for the first time since rupturing her gracillis. Both ladies ran with grit, drive and determination, neither showing their age or any sign of recent enforced rest.
Having completed round 1, we stopped to enjoy the delights on offer this month at the tea and cake tent. I thought I was going to be disappointed when Tracy said there were no chocolate items, but she really surpassed herself with the strawberry and cream butterfly cakes. They didn't hang around long enough for me to take a picture of, but as they say on Blue Peter 'here's one prepared earlier'...
The course was adjusted and reversed for round 2. Moonlake Mazda, running at her first meeting since winning the Shandril Trophy last season showed her renowned tenacity in beating this season's current top-ranking bitch Gill's Little Gem at Coppermow. Montyjack Moonshade of Soulstone and Silvajack Cassian also had a fantastic second round match, with MMoS showing how he has matured since last competing in April. SC ended lame, but thankfully with nothing more serious than cramp, so he was able to run his final.
At this point we had another break and held the raffle. Thank you to everybody who donated such lovely prizes. I had my eye on a lovely little whippet painting, but was pleased to see it go to a good home with young Layla, and I was very happy Biddy won the dog figurine she really wanted.
And so onto the finals, and what cracking finals they were! A course similar to one we had laid out at Dunster was set up, but on a larger scale, with a series of tight, zig-zagging wrenches and turns followed by straight sprint finish. Coupling a challenging course with skilled lure-driving on Richard's part in keeping the lure right under the nose, saw the whippets really put to the test, and it was magic to watch. The spectators' (namely Lilah's!) OOOHs, AAAHs and gasps at each twist and turn was testament to what an exhilarating performance the dogs produced. Course of the day has to go to Laguna Lively Leveret and Silvajack Cassian's final. If you didn't know better you would have thought they were coursing a live hare and not a strip of bin-liner, it was truly breath-taking.
All in all it was a fun a and successful meeting - the lure ran smoothly, the grounds were beautiful, weather perfect, great sport and fantastic atmosphere among competitors, triallers and spectators. Thank you all for making it such a good one!
I hope to see you all next month, there are still spaces for the taking in the October Season Finals, so if you want to be in with a chance of qualifying and maybe taking home a Trophy, get your dog entered for Siddington 13th September!
I hope you enjoy the gallery below, please check back soon as more pictures will be added as they come in.