Area Final 2016


Ist Plave Team Web


Held at Bisterne Manor, Ringwood, Hants, by kind invitation of Mr Hallam & Mrs Lal Mills & Mr Rupert Brewer (Keeper) on Sunday 26th June 2016. Judges - Robert Atkinson, Judy Rainey & Graham Stanley. Chief Steward - Dave England. Kindly sponsored by Skinners and Firedog.


Eight teams made up of three dogs and handlers, representing all the URC areas other than Lincs, met for bacon rolls and to compete for the prestigious Anglia Cup on a cloudy but dry day. There were six tests in total completed by all teams, three were completed before a break for coffee and cakes and three afterwards. The tests are numbered in the order we took them.

Test 1
For this test, judged by Judy Rainey, the team stood in line at a crossroads in the wood. Down the track to the left, to the right and dead ahead, stood dummy throwers some 80 yards away. We were told that each of us in turn would be sent for a mark and then back up the track to an unseen retrieve opposite a post or branch about half way to the fall of the mark. Sara went first sending Slipper down the track to the right, completing both retrieves cleanly with a little handling and scoring 16. Sharon’s Otis picked the mark down the track dead ahead without problems but struggled on the unseen taking in a lot of ground before finding, resulting in a score of 12. My dog, Ben, did not have a clear view of the fall down the track to our left and overshot by several yards before coming back to the area and picking - without my intervention. For the blind, he popped into the wood opposite the post but soon popped out again without the dummy a little further down, so I pulled him back a couple of yards and put him back in – gave him the hunt whistle and hoped as I could not see him. Out he came again but with the dummy this time – it was quicker and tidier than it sounds so we were awarded 17.

Test 2
Robert Atkinson had all three of us in line for a short walk-up in a field of reeds, weeds and rough grass. To our right stood three dummy throwers at about 50 yard intervals some 70 yards away. As we walked, the first threw a dummy, saluted by a shot, which we were instructed to remember. After a few more yards we heard a shot from a helper on a high bank to our left, over a ditch and more than 100 yards away, again a dummy was thrown but this time Sara was told to send her dog who collected smartly. The sequence was then repeated – memory to the right, seen to the left up on the bank – Otis and Sharon were spot on. Ben was confused by an echo from the shot and the way his head spun told me that he had failed completely to mark it. So I lined him up and he went straight as an arrow, over the ditch and up the hill, stopped within 10 yards of the fall and picked after a direction to hunt to his right – so I got away with that! We then had to decide who would pick each of the three memories which were now behind us and to our right. Sara went first and picked with very little handling earning 18 points, Sharon only had to send Otis right for the wind and he picked without handling so she got 20 while I sent Ben too far to the left for the remaining dummy and he had a longish hunt despite being downwind but we still got 17 which pleased me.

Test 3
This test, under Graham Stanley, we did individually. As we walked up to the open gate of a pheasant pen, a ‘rabbit’ bolted across the path, saluted by a shot from a gun walking on our right. We walked on through the gate a few yards but were then sent for a retrieve thrown into the deep bracken about 40 yards to our left and slightly behind us. After collecting that we were sent down the track ahead some 80 yards for a blind just off to the left. We all scored 17 for this element – not perfect but consistent!

Test 4
After a short break, we resumed with a new test judged by Graham Stanley. This began with a mock drive beside the River Stour which was almost in flood. We stood at the bank looking across about 30 yards of very strong flowing water and were told that during the drive three birds had dropped on the opposite side of the river each in the area of three saplings in a line some 15 yards from the bank at 20 yard intervals. We then had to decide who would go for each retrieve and in what order. We decided that Sara would go first and pick the bird at the middle tree. Although Slipper found it hard to keep his line against the strong current, he returned successfully, scoring 18 points. Sharon’s Otis coped better with the river and was awarded full marks. I was to pick the final bird furthest down river. I decided to line Ben up on the central sapling to allow for the inevitable drift down river. This worked fine insofar as he came out on the bank in line with the furthest sapling but then he immediately turned to the right ‘correcting’ himself onto the original line I had indicated. Putting him back onto the correct sapling required more handling than I would have liked and although he swam back very strongly, we only scored 17.

Test 5
This test, judged by Robert Atkinson, was the high point for the team as we only dropped two points in total. We lined up about 15 yards from the reed-lined bank of an oval pond and were told we would be sent in number order for a dummy thrown out on the ground beyond the far bank. Sara went first, her dog powering through the reeds, through the shallow water and straight through the reeds to pick and return without pause or handling. Otis, unfortunately, did not mark quite so well and Sharon had to handle him back to the area of the fall, dropping a couple of points. Ben almost replicated Slipper’s run except that he had to take a few steps downwind from where he went through the reeds to pick – but he still scored a maximum.

Test 6
After that success, we recorded our lowest scores of the day under Judy Rainey on the final test. This involved each of us in turn standing on a hill overlooking the field of rough grass and reeds used previously for the walk-up. We were told that a distraction would be thrown, saluted by shot, some 120 yards away but that we were to pick an unseen retrieve behind a large tree some 50 yards to the right of the blind and perhaps 130 yards away from us. The problem was that the best line to send and maintain sight of your dog was the line nearest the distraction and upwind of the area of the blind. Sara went first but was unfortunate in that the blind had not actually been put out. After what seemed like hours of hunting and handling she was called up when it was realised that the bird had flown! Sharon went next and picked after considerable handling to score 16. Sara then returned and despite the fact that Slipper was being asked to hunt again the area where he had previously ‘failed’, managed to equal Sharon’s score. I had decided that as we felt we were doing well, I must, at all costs, avoid picking the wrong bird and receiving our first zero. I therefore sent Ben out wide to the right and hoped he would wind the dummy quickly. He did not but got into an area behind trees and bushes where I could not see him. At length he emerged through the trees so that I could handle him well to the left where he quite clearly remembered then winded the distracting dummy. To my great relief, he stopped, looked at me and handled back to the big tree – another cast or two to get him behind it and we picked! I was mightily relieved but I thought we could not realistically expect more than twelve points for such a scrappy effort – and so it proved!

Sara was then called out for a run-off which we learned was for an individual award rather than the team placing. This was a blind across the pond of shallow water used earlier and she won the run-off by completing it with minimal handling.

The company then reassembled in the local church hall for the raffle and high tea of fish and chips followed by strawberries, after which the awards were announced – to our great delight! Our grateful thanks to the landowners, their keeper, the judges, the organisers and helpers from the Hants and South West area and our fellow competitors who all contributed to such a wonderful day.


1. Essex (308): Sara Gadd, Sharon Dingle & Alan Ward
2. Southern (298): Joanna Voke, Rob Smallman & James Barwell
3. Northern (291): Ros McIlroy, A N Appleton & F P McAdams
4. Midlands (290): Steve Newitt, Jonathan Hamblin & Polly Gibb
Atherbram Cup for highest scoring individual (109): Heather Walton (Bucks)
Shooting Times Trophy for second highest scoring individual (105) : Sara Gadd (Essex) -
H W Froud Trophy for highest scoring handler running for the 1st time at Area Finals (105): A N Appleton (Northern)
Castleton Trophy for highest placed team member from the host area: Julie Kelvie (Hants & South West)

Report from Alan Ward