The 2017 SSAA National Working Gundogs Pointer and Setter Field Trial turned out to be the sort of occasion that we all like to see. There were fast dogs, some spectacular finds and great ground coverage, all played out on a Mallee stubble in Victoria with a cold wind that brought tears to the galleries’ eyes but provided scenting conditions as good as can be.
There is nothing in field sports quite like a birddog running impossibly fast then, in an instant, tearing up the earth in its elemental urge to point, transfixed by the scent of game as every taut sinew and muscle screams to its distant, hurrying handler, “It’s right here!”
A smallish field competed for National honours over the last weekend in May with judges Denis Everard (Victoria) and Tony Conner (New Zealand) set the task of finding the best dogs on the day. These two judges brought a wealth of experience to their roles, both having competed with and titled many of their own dogs. Judging gundogs requires a blend of experience, savvy and the ability to see beyond merely ticking boxes. A good judge knows almost instinctively that a great piece of work, one that sets the blood racing, is what class birddogs can do. Sometimes they might fall short, but when they are on song, they are unforgettable.
The first round set the tone with some beautiful moves that saw four dogs brought into the second round. These dogs impressed the judges and were again put through their paces and once more produced a very high standard of performances. The final placings were:
1st - Henry Foster’s pointer dog, Riley (F Ch, F Ch (CS), FT Ch RIPRAP MARKSMAN NFTW, NFTW (CS)).
2nd - Nick Guida’s pointer bitch, Marley (RIPRAP ROXY NRD IRTD).
Best Novice Dog - Michael Zandona’s pointer dog (SUREFIND BOB).
The second class of the National weekend was the John Nash Memorial Field Trial. This is an important honour to add to any dog’s winning list as John Nash, from Ireland, judged in Australia many years ago and was instrumental in bringing about an appreciation and understanding of quality dog work.
This trial was run in different conditions to the previous day with heavy rain overnight. Roads became impassable and judges, handlers and dogs had to make the long, long trek to the paddock on foot - you have to be ready for everything in dog trials.
The winner on the day was Nick Guida’s pointer bitch, Marley (RIPRAP ROXY NRD IRTD).
If you are interested in competing in field trials, please email SSAA Working Gundogs National Discipline Chairman Barry Oliver or phone him on 0403 380 092.