NOT CONTENT WITH consistently showing birds which challenge even the most accomplished shots, Glynn Smith, headkeeper at Hartham Park near Corsham in Wiltshire, has been busy demonstrating field trials can sit alongside premium driven shooting grounds without compromising the effectiveness of either.
The Flatcoated Retriever Society and South West Goldens have enjoyed the estate’s hospitality this past season and Glynn’s great enthusiasm. The Bristol and West Working Gundog Society held a novice stake for 16 dogs on January 2 with championship judge Wendy Knight and soon to be Cocker Champion, Simon Tyers, assessing the work.
The conditions which greeted the card, equally divided between dogs and bitches, on the flat high ground at Square Cover were warm and blustery. And with the stubble turnip and mustard mixture offering little resistance, many dogs were inclined to pull on into the wind rather than settle into a controlled hunting rhythm.
By 12.30pm the field had moved to the Tyning, a hanging wood which normally presents superb birds to the guns standing deep in the combe below. The variety of its ground cover makes it a special forum for spaniel work as well. Divided by a broad ride, its mixture of boggy, rushy areas, bramble and brashings really gave the better dogs a chance to show they could produce for the gun.
None more so than Rowston Rachel, confidently handled by Dai Ormond, who did class work on a hen after Jack Davey with Proworthy Swift had collected two hens, the first of them an eye-wipe. He was not the only dog, however, to run the ride rather than cross into the difficult areas where birds were falling.
Lynn Randall, too, struggled before picking on ground which was always demanding, giving the judges every chance to assess hunting quality. They needed little deliberation before field trial secretary, Justina Verinder, was able to announce the following awards:
1st: Dai Ormond with bitch, Rowston Rachel, (owned by Andy Robinson).
2nd: Tony Read with dog, Dash of Duxford.
3rd: Lynn Randall with bitch, Wirewolf Lily of Randalyn.
4th: Jack Davey with dog, Proworthy Swift.