A record crowd attended the Beta Gundog Weekend, held in the grounds of Claydon House, in Buckinghamshire, on 5 and 6 May, writes Maurice Stanbury. The two-day event attracted many competitors for the working tests and the general public with an interest in gundogs. There were opportunities to watch experts at work, participate in the scurries or simply watch and learn more about the types and breeds of working gundog. Advice was freely available from professional trainers, with demonstrations held in the main ring showing how that advice should be put into practice.

The scurries proved popular, particularly with special awards for young handlers. Ann and Harry Jones took top honours on the first day, with young Bradley Hunt mopping up the prizes on the second day.

The retriever and HPR working tests both ran over each of the two days, while the springer spaniel competition was held on the first day, with the cockers and the other spaniel breeds competing on the second.

The estate provided a glorious backdrop for the working tests. Inevitably, the retrieves across water provided the greatest spectacle, with the retriever run-off on the second afternoon being the highlight of the competitions. Judges Heather Bradley, Jane Coley and Robin Watson had shortlisted seven dogs from the original 35 entries for a run-off. A mock pheasant drive was set up with lots of bangs, while birds (dummies) landed on the far side of a large lake.

The seven finalists had to sit their dogs off lead, in line, until they were called forward in turn to be sent across the lake for a retrieve. The overall winner was Jane McHugh?s yellow Labrador dog, Caveral Dew of Bittenham. It was a popular win for a dog that had spent 50 days last winter picking-up.

The springer spaniel competition was tight, with Jack Iliffe?s three-year-old dog Langymoor Woody taking the top place by one point. Alice Wise?s bitch Woodstorm Babe of Woodabudge had the higher hunting score but missed out on top honours when she struggled on an unseen retrieve behind the line. Working test winners were: retrievers ? Labrador Caveral Dew of Bittenam, handled by Jane McHugh; HPRs ? German shorthaired pointer Tiptopjack Flotilla, handled by Huw Kirby; springer spaniels ? Langymoor Woody, handled by Jack Iliffe; cocker spaniels ? Buckhill Gun Ringo, handled by Jay Thompson; AV spaniels

? Sedgehurst Tempest Clumber, handled by John Zurick.