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Report on the FCRS Special Diamond Anniversary Doubles Team Working Tests

The FCRS Special Diamond Anniversary Doubles Team Working Tests for Flatcoated Retrievers took place on Sunday 4th June 2023 at Sandhills Farm, Redditch by kind permission of the landowner, S E Davis & Son Ltd and were kindly sponsored by YuMove.

The event was held as part of the FCRS’s Diamond Anniversary Weekend events which will, of course, be reported separately.

 Our judges on the day were Dr Tim Woodgate-Jones, Mr Steve Ashby, Mr Phil Bruton and Mr Graham Stanley and we are grateful to each of them for generously giving up their time to judge for us. Our chief steward was Mr Paul Egginton and Mrs Roz Bellamy was Acting Working Test Secretary for the day. Again, our thanks are due to them for their hard work on the day. Days like these do not happen without the goodwill 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 deeply are indebted to them all for their generosity of spirit. Those of us competing had a fabulous day. Thank you! 

The tests attracted an excellent entry, with 22 teams running. We were delighted to have some overseas entrants with four teams coming from Scandinavia. Entrants had come from across the UK, some camping for the weekend and many enjoying the other activities on offer as part of the Diamond Anniversary Weekend. There was a lovely cross section of entries. We had several veterans running and some of the youngest dogs were only just turning 2 years old. There were family teams, teams that had come together to train together and some that had found a team mate through the Society. Some of the dogs were of Open standard but there were also some Novice Dog/Novice Handlers entered. 

Each Doubles Team consisted of two dogs and two handlers and each test consisted of two elements, one for each dog. The tests were set by Phil Bruton in consultation with Paul Egginton  and thanks are due to Phil and Paul for giving up their time and for their expertise in doing this. The two elements were graded “A” and “B” with A being generally more challenging than B. Each team had to elect at the start of the day which team member and which dog was going to attempt each level A or B. 

On the day of the tests we could not have asked for better weather, glorious sunshine and a cooling breeze. 

The tests were as follows: 

Test 1, judged by Mr Steve Ashby, was a marked retrieve thrown into cover of long grass just over the brow of a hill. There were in fact three dummies already placed in the cover. The two dogs were asked to walk forwards to heel towards the cover. Dog B was then sent for the mark and on return was sent back to hunt the cover for a second dummy.  Dog A then had to walk to heel away from the cover, down the hill and was sent from further back for the two remaining dummies. Having walked down the hill dog A was now working out of sight of their handler who had to trust the dog to find the cover and hunt.  

Test 2, judged by Dr Tim Woodgate-Jones, was conducted in a field of long grass. First a double mark with shot, left and right up hill into the wind. Both were to be picked by dog B and their handler had to elect, after the dummies were thrown, which retrieve they were going to send their dog to pick first. Then both dogs turned and a double mark with shot, left and right down hill some distance away, against a hedge line. Both were to be picked by dog A and again the handler had to elect, after the dummies were thrown, which retrieve they were going to send their dog to pick first.

Test 3, judged by Mr Phil Bruton was a double mark up hill into long grass with a coppice of trees in between the two marks. These were both to be picked by dog B with the handler nominating which one they wanted to pick first. Both dogs were then walked to heel down the hill away from the coppice while further dummies were placed in a similar area to the two previous marks. Dog A was sent for these two blind in turn, which were now at quite a tight angle, with the handler again nominating which dummy they would to pick first.

Test 4, judged by Mr Graham Stanley was a two dog walk up. Starting at the hedge line the handler of dog B had to place a dummy and then heel their dog away from it. The two dogs walked in line forward over slight incline. A shot was fired and a dummy was thrown ahead. The less experienced dog had to turn away from this marked retrieve and collect the memory from behind. They then picked the forward mark. After this the line was brought forward to heel, increasing the distance to the hedge line. A second shot was fired and a dummy was thrown ahead. Dog A had to turn away from this mark and be sent for a blind, back at the hedgerow but in a different area from where dog B had picked the memory. Dog A then picked the forward mark. 

We broke during the day for lunch and at the end of the day, once all the dogs had completed the tests. Tea, coffee and celebratory cakes were served while the scores were added up and checked. 

Every entrant to the Diamond Anniversary Doubles Team Working Tests received a goody bag from YuMove

The winning team overall was Andy Sweeney and Sue Rogersrunning Maddistream Black Powder Of Wolfthistle and Signy Never Touching Ground IMP CHE;

Second were Derek Bull and Sarah Young running Keepersway Alana and Waverton I Wish I Could Fly at Larksburn;

Third were Carina Hansson and Goran Hansson from Sweden, running Comics Easter Witch and Coatfloats Pontiac Firebird; and 

Fourth were Monika Pfeiffer and Krister Sjöstrand from Sweden, running Elemors Choice of Fixa and Coatfloats Mercury Meja.

Derek Bull’s Keepersway Alana was the highest scoring Veteran dog;

Rachel Birch’s Varingo Magic Of Light was the highest scoring dog on the A tests, and 

Vivienne Gatter running Larksease Black Bryony had the Best Overall Score with a perfect 80/80 and was the highest scoring dog on the B tests.

Each of the above received special Diamond Anniversary Rosettes in Society colours, marking their achievement and commemorating the event and the Society’s 75th year. Congratulations must go to all those in the awards but also to all those who took the plunge, trained with a friend and entered this special event, a most enjoyable occasion with a lovely atmosphere.

Sarah Young

Hon. Working Test Secretary