The final of the Royal Canin UK Agility Grand Prix was held at Newbury Showground on Saturday, 27 June. Lee Gibson judged the event which turned out to be a captivating Agility class. The final consisted of 81 dogs, all of which had previously qualified at shows throughout the country this year. The dogs and handlers ranged from Beginners to Champ across all heights, incorporating Toy, Midi, Standard and Maxi. Iris Richards reports.
The competitors nervously waited in the glorious evening sunshine, with the spectators gathering around all four sides of the ring. No one could have predicted the results of this final nor how exciting it was going to be.
The Toy dogs were drawn first to run
Dawn Weaver was next with her three year old Papillion, Puzzle. A quick start and tight cornering saw her reach the A-frame quickly and scramble over the top. Tight turns around 12 took Puzzle onto the seesaw, waiting for a split second to make it tip, then the long run down towards the tunnels. With the wind blowing in Puzzle's face as she came across the dog walk, a really quick time of 38.63 was set.
A couple more eliminations occurred, and then one of the tallest competitors, with one of the smallest dogs took place on the start line. Dave Alderson started with his little white poodle Libby who is always quick and generally a little noisy too. Fast weaves, good running contacts on the A-frame and perfect turns took them onto the seesaw. Some nifty footwork from Dave negotiated the correct tunnel entrance, and saw him as the first competitor to choose to run alongside the dog walk on his left. This avoided any back jumping of 14, and a cracking clear in 39.87 was achieved. M. Adams completed the toy group with a well controlled and nicely handled round, but Tia couldn't improve on Puzzle's winning time, and she was placed 4th in a time of 43.88.
The course height was changed to Midi
Wendy Clay ran tenth and although cautiously worked Scout around the right wing of 3. She left him in the weaves and moved around the first part of the course with ease. Scout flew out of tunnel 17, and Wendy repeated Dave's earlier tactics of running along the right side of the dog walk and put in a time of 37.29.
Four more competitors went before Nicola Garrett and Indiana set up on the start. Indy took a huge jump over no 1, powered through the weaves and completed the A-frame perfectly. Whizzing out of the collapsible tunnel, and then reaching the dog walk, Nicola's distance handling paid off, and she was at no 20, for a recall finish in a time of 37.29. This meant that a run off was going to be needed.
Sharon Lear was the only other competitor in the midi height to gain a clear in a time of 44.72, so a run off for first place was next.
Wendy chose to go first after winning the draw. An uncomplicated start saw a fantastic send into the weaves by tightening the turn on the left wing of 3 this time. A superb send into the far end of the tunnel saved Wendy time, and Scout flew home in 35.01. The tension around the ring was electrifying and in the bright evening sun, the crowd fell silent. Nicola knew what she had to beat and worked Indy tightly into every corner. Her distance weave handling was awesome, and at the seesaw there was nothing in the split times. Indiana barked her enjoyment throughout, and mastered the dog walk excellently. A superb clear resulted in 35.77. Both dogs had shaved off 2 seconds from their first run, but Scout just piped Indy by .76 of a second.
came the Standard dogs.
Some superb handling from both Morag Harris and Helen Perryman was evident although Helen's Molly just missed the dog walk contact. Dawn Weaver with Breezer put in a blistering fast round, but once again the dogwalk contact was missed. Her time of 35.35, however, was the fastest at this point. Stuart Carter with Spooks completed the course in 45.28 in his own inimitable style, but had gained a refusal at 3 due to some reverse roundabout handling.
In 16th place Sue Wood began confidently, and she chose to weave on the left. This proved successful and, with determination, Sue wrapped Teejay around the left wing of 12 before the seesaw. A super cross into the tunnel, and a brilliantly timed call off back jumping 14 saw Teejay put in the fastest clear so far at 46.04.
Shaun Hunt is always ready to take on a challenge, and superbly distance handled the weaves. Oakley bounced 6 to 7, but took a slightly wide right turn over 12. A small clip of jump 16 spurred them both on, and the combination of Shaun's long legs, experience and a perfect front cross to block jump 14, he strode home clear in 43.09.
Leslie Osborne eagerly waited at the start with Fizz, and set off at a fast pace. A tight weave entry and great cornering on 10 saw him thundering around the course. Super fast tunnel entries followed, and Leslie again chose the right hand side of the dog walk. This decision paid off and Fizz flew home clear in 35.29. The last two Standard dogs both entered the wrong end of the tunnel 18, so Leslie Osborne won this level by over seven seconds.
Maxi height saw all 21 competitors run this level.
Next Andy Sandercock put in a good effort. Free bobbed through the weaves and then opened up around the bottom half of the course. Although a sharp call at the end of the dog walk saved a back jump the time of 37.55 only placed them second. Some minor handling errors followed, once again with the course being challenging at various stages. Chris Cole set a good time, but was the first to just tip the long jump, which proved to be a problem later through the class.
Angela Williams was ninth to run. Tiff focused with her head down in the weaves. Quick turns gave a split time at the seesaw of 23 seconds. This round was looking to push Hannah from the lead. A reverse turn into the pipe tunnel and another before the final jump may not have been the quickest choice, but still gave a good clear in 36.36. Once more minor errors were forcing the judge Lee Gibson to fault the next few competitors. Becca Middleton, however, put in a good controlled run with super tight turns in a time of 37.38 this placed her 3rd at that point.
Dawn Weaver left Promise in a long stand wait to start. Coming over 2 she really looked at the weaves and Dawn controlled her around the left wing of 3 to give a great weave entry. Promise strode around the first half of the course and didn't put a paw on the top of the A-frame, but had a perfect contact. Once again a split time of 23 seconds was given, so could Promise match Hannah's performance? Stealthy running contacts on the dog walk proved unbeatable at 35.00.
Dave Alderson was the penultimate competitor. As he had earlier experienced the course with his Toy dog Libby, the crowd fell silent in eager expectation of his run. Rocky pulled off a superb wait and Dave worked him fast and tight through the weaves. As earlier, the long jump was catching out the very long striding dogs, and he incurred 5 faults there. Dave was determined to push Rocky. Once again he used his experience and long legs to negotiate the tunnel entrance and complete the dogwalk on the right side once again. A blistering run at 35.92, it was fantastic to watch!
The evening was completed with the presentations of awards. Royal Canin had sponsored the event, and each competitor sported a red embroidered polo shirt. The top 3 places of each height category won a sports rucksack, and were awarded Royal Canin food for their size of dog.
On behalf of all UK Agility competitors, a big thank you to Royal Canin for supporting the Grand Prix in 2009 and enabling such a great competition to run
First published 19/07/09