The 2023 Shirley Radburn Nationals Working Tests for Novice and Open Flatcoated Retrievers took place on 28/5/23 at the Willows, Standlake by kind permission of the landowner, Mrs Vivienne Gatter and kindly sponsored by Skinner’s Dog Food.
After one of the wettest springs on record Vivienne had a Herculean task to prepare the ground and we are extremely grateful to her for all the hard work she put into this. (On a personal note I am also grateful to Vivienne for acting as Chief Steward on the day, enabling me to enter the tests with my own dog.)
The tests were set by Phil Bruton in consultation with Vivienne Gatter, and the judges, and thanks are due to Phil and Vivienne for giving up their time and expertise in doing this.
Our judges on the day were Barbara Kuen, Karen MacCarthy, Robert Fisher and Sue Berman and we are grateful to each of them for generously giving up their time to judge for us.
On the day, unusually for a bank holiday weekend, we had glorious sunshine and a light breeze.
The tests attracted an excellent entry this year with 26 running in Novice (after three unavoidable withdrawals) and 16 in Open. We were also delighted to have some overseas entrants in both Novice and Open.
The tests set for Novice were:
Test 1: Shot fired to indicate a blind retrieve in an open field, followed by shot fired a marked retrieve, thrown into cover in woodland in the opposite direction from the blind. The mark was to be picked first which involved crossing a ditch as well as negotiating the cover.
Test 2: Shot was fired and a memory marked retrieve was thrown into a field and then a marked retrieve was thrown into water. The water retrieve was to be picked first.
Test 3: A marked retrieve was thrown into a field of mown grass but the fall of the dummy was obscured by long grass and a wooded area. The dogs had to be sent over a fence and had to take a line to the fall of the dummy.
Test 4: Was a two dog walk up in a hay field of high grasses. Each dog had two retrieves, one in front and one behind, with the one in front necessitating the dog being sent across the line.
The walk up and the water tests challenged many of the dogs but by the end of the morning the following awards were made:
1st Andy Sweeney with his dog Wolfthistle Mr Miracle,
Andy was also awarded the Nationals Novice Salver and the Houndstooth Novice Trophy
2nd Garry Ellison with his bitch Ollersett Shimmering Nymph,
3rd Sue Rogers with her bitch Signy Never Touching Ground, and
4th Gordon Blyth with his bitch Glenturret Lucky Star.
The Open Tests were held after lunch.
Test 1: Shot was fired to indicate a long blind retrieve in an open field followed by a shot fired and a marked retrieve was thrown into cover in woodland in the opposite direction from the blind. The blind had to be picked first followed by the memory mark in the woods.
Test 2: Shot was fired and a marked retrieve was thrown into water, before this was picked a blind had to be retrieved from the land.
Test 3: A marked retrieve was thrown into a field where the fall of the dummy was obscured by long grass and a wooded area. The dogs had to be sent over two fences at an angle and return the same way.
Test 4: Was a two dog walk up in a hay field of high grasses with longer distances than for the Novice test and two marks being thrown before a dog was sent.
After a run off for second place the following awards were made:
1st Andy Sweeney with his bitch Maddistream Black Powder Of Wolfthistle
Andy was awarded the Nationals Open Salver and the Houndswood Novice Trophy
2nd Jane Manley with her bitch Lenyam Kite
3rd Jacqui Crew with her dog Casblaidd Chizel, and
4th Ann Bracegirdle with her dog Mahinda Bombus Heath
Days like these do not happen without the goodwill and generosity of spirit of all those who volunteered (or agreed) to turn out to help on the day, stewarding, throwing dummies, placing blinds or sorting out refreshments and catering and we are indebted to them all. Thank you!