After a two-year break, the Sherborne Country Fair was in full swing once again on the last Sunday of May. A fantastic event organised by volunteers and run entirely for charity. The gundog team challenges were welcomed by both competitors and the public who were able to see some elements of the tests. The water tests on the lake proved the most spectacular and were enjoyed by many spectators.
Our club entered a team of three spaniels and their handlers; Julie Thatcher with her 3 year old ESS bitch Fuselea Harrett; Kevin John with his 5 year old ESS dog Greenbrush Charley of Boggwater; and Andrew Stevens running his 4 year old bitch Stockingford Sputnik. Maurice Stanbury was the non-playing team captain who was charged with ensuring everyone was in the right place at the right time as well as buying the ice-creams.
Nick Gregory, Paddy Williams and Sam Thatcher were the judges for the day and they had devised an excellent series of tests and challenges. The day started at the lakeside with a straightforward seen retrieve from the water. Handlers had to stand well back from the bank before sending their dogs through some heavy cover on the edge of the lake. A very good start for the team with full marks all round.
We then all moved up to the Old Deer Park, a wooded area with some lovely cover for hunting spaniels. Fortunately, the weather was fine and not too hot for the dogs to be shown at their best. Nick and Paddy had found some great cover for the hunt-up, a mix of bracken, fern, a few brambles and the occasional fallen tree to add variety, but no nettles. A good hunt and seen retrieve under both judges went well, with just the odd glitch when the dummy dropped in a gully for one spaniel which ran over it a couple of times before finding.
This was followed by a cunning test set by Sam, when the spaniels were sent for a seen retrieve with shot down a track but had to pick a blind from woodland on the right, halfway along the path. A real test of the stop whistle and handling skills, which proved the undoing of one of our team members, but he was in good company among other competitors.
The final test was a blind retrieve from woodland which all completed satisfactorily.
On the day the North Devon team was awarded second place when the presentations were made in the gundog ring. However, we subsequently learned that there had been an error in the scores and when revised, our team was upgraded to first place, closely followed by the Usk Valley Club team and the ‘Bramble Bashers’.
Our congratulations to Nathan Quinn from the Usk Valley Club who had the honour of taking the award for ‘Top Dog’.
Well done team, a great all-round performance!