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Town & Country 2005

 

 

 

The Kennel Club Olympia Agility Stakes Semi-finals

Sponsored by Pedigree

Once again, the town & Country Festival at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, an extremely popular event, played host to the second set of Agility Stakes Olympia Semi-finals for Standard dogs. This year we went into the main canine area and what a superb spot it was! The agility was the highlight of what they call the Showcase Arena which was situated on the main thoroughfare of the show, just across from the main ring. Every time we ran one of our events over the three days, all sides of the arena were jam-packed with spectators up to ten deep so it really was a very exciting event with a tremendous atmosphere. Dave Ray reports from the Pedigree sales stand just across the way.

This is the first year that the Kennel Club has taken over as lead sponsors of this event, supported by Pedigree. An additional two heats were held, making 14 in total with the top ten dogs coming forward from each of these heats which was no mean achievement as up to 450 dogs ran in each heat. These qualifiers were then put into seven Semi-finals with 20 dogs running in each. Four were held at the Royal Show in July and the final three were to be held at the Town & Country Festival, with the top five dogs going forward from each day’s Semi-final to Olympia.

I always try to invite a judge who has the necessary experience, both as a judge and a competitor and who can also take the pressure of judging a major event. This year, I chose Fran Graham and was not to be disappointed as he designed some super courses and certainly for the Semis, they were not the easiest but they suited the standard of dog running.

Day 1
This event is always a little bit more stressful for some of the handlers as it may be their last chance to qualify for the final. As usual, we started at 10:30am with an invitation event in which all the finalists run in a 'warm up' competition before the actual semi final later in the day. The clear winner of this was Jayne Bray who put in a clear round in 31.07 seconds. Her time was beaten by David Ryan and Liz Catt but unfortunately they both had faults.


 

 

 

The semi final was held at 2:00pm and the ringside was packed with spectators. First to go, Michael Bye, unfortunately had ten faults, but Pete Catt went into the lead with 31.96 which unfortunately was not going to prove to be quick enough. Tracy Flower and Sue Marsh both unfortunately had faults and David Ryan with his very fast Blue Merle suffered an elimination. Hannah Banks ran sixth and went into the lead on a clear in 29.25 but that did not last long because, running seventh, Lee Windeatt snatched the lead from her in 28.55. That in turn was held for only a short time as well because Amanda Pigg, running next, snatched the lead from him in a time of 28.22. Paul Oldfield had an elimination and Mark Douglas who was running a Kelpie unfortunately went out on ten faults. Liz Catt incurred five faults on the dog walk and running twelfth Jayne Bray, the morning’s invitation event winner, coasted round into the lead with a clear in 28.09 seconds. Karen Smith had 5 faults on the A-Frame, Lee Gibson and Tracy Flower were clear but unfortunately not fast enough and running sixteenth, Lynne Ward sneaked into fourth place with 29.02. Lee Broadhurst had a good time but unfortunately incurred ten faults and Adam Froggatt, Fiona Vaughan and Sarah Macneil all had eliminations.

So in the first semi final we had eight clear rounds and five eliminations but things were due to hot up over the following two days.

Results: Semi Final 1

 Place

Handler

Dog

Time

Faults

1

Jayne Bray

Special Edition at Upanova

28.09

Clear

2

Amanda Pigg

The Jagged Edge

28.22

Clear

3

Lee Windeatt

Tenita Princess Lyla

28.55

Clear

4

Lynne Ward

Waggerland Kite

29.02

Clear

5

Hannah Banks

Wildkap Wannabe

29.25

Clear

Invitation Winner: Jayne Bray with Special Edition at Upanova

Day 2
In the morning we ran an invitation event once more and our judge Fran Graham used the previous afternoon’s semi final course with a couple of subtle changes which produced ten clear rounds and only two eliminations. And a newish handler to the semi finals, Ann Williams with Pied Pike, was the winner with a clear round in 26.90 seconds.

First dog to run in the semi final was winner of the invitation event Ann Williams who put in a stunning clear round in 30.33 on what was to prove to be a course with medium difficulty but with the pressure and nerves of the event, would prove to be an extremely exciting semi - well, for the commentator and the audience anyway! Alan Gardner, who has been in the sport for many years went clear in 31.94 seconds to go into second place and that’s the way it would stay until Blair Willis ran 15th.

Between second and fifteenth, we had five dogs with faults and seven eliminations. But Blair Willis ran clear to go into the lead in 29.74 clear. This was followed by two eliminations, one of which was Dave Alderson who had already competed in every semi final except one in his bid to get to Olympia. Then Sue Rolfe ran eighteenth and put in a lovely clear in 31.88 to go into third place, quickly followed at nineteenth by Nicola Garrett who had five faults but sneaked into the last qualifying place in a time of 33.19 seconds. So there were to be only four clear rounds today.

Results: Semi Final 2

 Place

Handler

Dog

Time

Faults

1

Blair Willis

Alsorts of Magic

29.74

Clear

2

Ann Williams

Pied Pike

30.33

Clear

3

Sue Rolfe

Kestrel GTX

31.88

Clear

4

Alan Gardner

Joe Boy

31.94

Clear

5

Nicola Garrett

Woodsorrel Spectre

33.19

5

Invitation Winner: Ann Williams with Pied Pike

Day 3
On Monday morning, the invitation event was again a repetition of the previous day’s Semi-final course but with a few subtle changes. The winner of this was David Alderson with his very talented young Border Collie Waggerland Spice who ran clear in 30.53. Dave probably thought the same as us – ‘Oh dear, if you win in the invitation event are you not going to do any good later?’ because that’s what sometimes happens.

The last semi final, as with the others, had a maximum course time of 45 seconds and also as with the others we had run a white dog for the benefit of the first person in the random draw and that went round clear, handled by Mary Ray. It was a course of medium difficulty, well-suited to the Senior/Advanced dogs running, but it did need 100% concentration and, of course, there was the pressure of the event which was the unknown element as well as the fact that it was the very last chance to qualify for Olympia.

Liz Grant ran first followed by Sharon Eldridge but both were eliminated. Running third, Mark Laker went into the lead with five faults in 32.59 seconds. He was followed by Lee Gibson and Charlotte Harding with eliminations and Virginia Harry with five faults, so things were not looking good. Being the last Semi-final, I had the audience whipped up somewhat on the commentary and everyone was waiting with bated breath when Patricia Britton, who had been invited as a last minute reserve the night before - I know she won’t mind me saying that she’s 63 years young with a new young dog - stepped into the arena. I don’t think she could quite believe it herself. She didn’t have the fastest run of the day in 38.07 but she went round the course clear and got the most fantastic roar of approval from the audience as into first place she went! 

Mark Douglas, Clare Rosendale, Hege Hurdwell and David Ryan all followed with faults, then running twelfth ‘Mr Unlucky’ himself David Alderson with Waggerland Spice crossed the finishing line in 33.53, again to a tremendous roar of approval from the audience who by now were standing ten or twelve deep. Lorraine Watts followed but unfortunately incurred ten faults and then Karen Laker stepped up to the line. Her husband was still hanging on in fourth place at that point and I think she was determined to beat him as, once again with a tremendous roar from the audience, she went clear in a time of 33.38 to go into the lead. Sharon Eldridge with her second dog and Jackie Gardner followed with faults and unfortunately Nancy Hudson and Fiona Vaughan both had eliminations. Running 19th, Lee Gibson was running his second dog to have qualified, his youngster Che. He took the right decision not to rush the course and still put in an excellent time of 35.27 which was fast enough to put him into third place. 

Hard luck story of the day went to Simon Peachey, running last with his Ag. Ch. Diesel, a tremendously successful dog who had been off with an injury but ran a superb round until the third but last obstacle when he read the body language of his owner wrong and got himself eliminated.

Results: Semi Final 3

 Place

Handler

Dog

Time

Faults

1

Karen Laker

Bekkis Thaumaturge

33.38

Clear

2

Dave Alderson

Waggerland Spice

33.53

Clear

3

Lee Gibson

Highmind Che

35.27

Clear

4

Patricia Britton

Ghostland Wilma the Flyer

38.07

Clear

5

Mark Laker

Bekkis Carbon Copy

32.59

5

Invitation Winner: Dave Alderson with Waggerland Spice

This was one of the best Town & Country Festivals we've ever had. The Showcase Arena was superb. We had a bigger audience than any other event in the arena and certainly with the most appreciative audience, helped by the fact that this is one of the most important agility events in the United Kingdom. And, of course, our judge Fran Graham’s courses were superb. They needed the required skill level, and they were very exciting. In fact, they were a commentator’s dream.

Thank you
You can’t run any event without skilled help so a personal thank you to Ann and Gwyn Roberts, Elaine and Rob Hunter, Ellie Wayling, Liz and Alan Pollock and Mary for all the tremendous help they give me. People say how professionally they are run which is not a lot to do with me - it only happens if you have a skilled team. Also, of course, a special thanks to the Kennel Club for recognising this important series of events and to Pedigree for supporting the Kennel Club.

Judges Report: Town & Country Festival Olympia Semi Final

The courses were designed for senior dogs to flow, with a certain degree of difficulty. There were some very exciting rounds and fast times over the three days and all the competitions turned out to be very entertaining for the ever-swelling audience.

To mention but a few outstanding rounds:-

  • Jayne Bray’s semi final run - Jayne thought she lost it when her dog turned right instead of left to the see saw but she kept it all together to win her semi.

  • Ann Williams’ invitation run was blistering. Then she repeated her performance in the afternoon to qualify. 

  • And Dave Alderson for a very controlled round. Dave had a run in every Semi so well done for keeping your nerve and doing a superb round.

It was great to see all the invitation winners qualify in the afternoon which is somewhat unusual. Congratulations to all those who qualified. Have a fantastic time at Olympia and commiserations to those who didn’t.

Many thanks to Gail for being my scrime for the three days and thanks to my ring party Rob, Elaine, Gwyn, Ann, Ellie, Liz, Alan and Michelle. Thanks to Dave for inviting me to judge this prestigious event. We had a fabulous weekend, plenty of sunshine and were well looked after by Dave’s trusty team.

 

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