The Royal Show at Scone Palace
It’s always a pleasure to travel up to Perth to be master of ceremonies for our Highland Agility Finals. Heats this year were held at Dundee, Kingdom of Fife, Woodside, Scottish Kennel Club and Gleniffer, with the top five coming forward from each heat to reach the finals at the Game Conservancy Scottish Fair held in the grounds of Scone Palace, Perth - a superb setting for a superb final.
The show itself is one of the most popular of its kind held in the UK. Certainly it is held in the highest esteem due to the fact that it has remained an old fashioned show for landowners and game keepers and that is very apparent when you look round the stands to see what is for sale - none of your usual 'townie' country fair type stands here, all very very traditional where you can buy anything from a motorised snow ski for the winter to a pair of the finest boxed shotguns for nearly £40,000. This is also a show which gets more and more popular each year and, if the gate wasn’t up this year, it was probably more due to the fact that the weather on the second day turned pretty awful.
It was very unfortunate this year that the Game Fair weekend was also the same weekend that the Royal Show started at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire so I had the unenviable task of driving up to Scotland with our 2004 judge on the Friday morning, running our final on Saturday and then late on the Saturday afternoon driving back down to Warwickshire to run the first of the Pedigree Olympia Agility Stakes Semi Finals.
Of course, as we know, you cannot run any event single handed and I am very lucky in Scotland to have a first class ring party team who is organised for me by Anne McBride and I am indebted to her and the team for making the running of the event such an easy task.
Our 2004 judge was Rob Hunter who has competed for very many years and has judged throughout the UK and Ireland. Not only was he good company but he also made a good job of the judging and put down two very good courses. In the case of the final, what seemed like a quite straightforward agility course proved to be anything but and the handlers really needed to have their wits about them to get round clear.
Report by Rob Hunter
The first event of the day was the warm-up event so I set a nice, easy, straightforward course, not too difficult, so that the dogs and handlers could have a good blast round - well, how wrong I was!
The first dog Agili-Tay handled by John Wiseman missed the down on the A-frame to incur five faults and the next handler Paul Fratson with Nortons This ‘n’ That had five faults again, this time for jumping off the see-saw. The next dog Absolutely Dot handled by Rona Hughson had the fifth pole down and two refusals so were we going to get a clear round on this as I had thought it a nice straightforward course! And this wasn’t until the ninth handler to run who was Toni Lock with her dog Careless Whisper ran clear in a time of 30.52 seconds.
Poor Doris Stokoe ran with her dog Highfield Hazza Chance and had a refusal right on the last jump to get five faults. Hazel Barker with Zack a Riot ran twelfth and can I say how well Hazel handled her dog in a fast time of 30.27 seconds and turned out to be the winner. Pat Brown was the next to run clear in a time of 31.28 seconds which as it turned out put her into third place.
Therefore, the placings were as follows:-
|1||Hazel Barker||Zack a Riot||30.27 seconds|
|2||Toni Lock||Careless Whisper||30.52 seconds|
|3||Pat Brown||Ladbrook Izit Dodgy||31.28 seconds|
|4||Phil Hicks||Phil’s Tazmaniac|
|5||John McEwan||Middleton’s Magic Mist|
Later in the day at 1:30 pm we had the Pedigree Highland Agility Stakes Finals. Although the weather had been fine during the morning, it was looking decidedly murky and sure enough before we started to set up our course it started to rain which was a little bit disheartening but nonetheless the show must go on and within a few minutes of the ring party entering the arena with the equipment, the course was finished. Then luck decided to join us and as the handlers walked the course, the rain stopped so fortunately we were able to run our final without the accompaniment of a highland shower.
I decided to set a course which had a speed section, then a control part, followed by tight control at the finish.
There we were - just over half way through the running order - and we only had one clear round. Had I got it all wrong, I wondered?
It must have been an advantage running towards the end by watching the other competitors make the mistake of not calling their dogs too soon.
Placings were as follows:
|1||Dianne Talbot||Paws for a Pepsi||28.70 seconds||Clear|
|2||Dave Alderson||Waggerland Spice||29.20 seconds||Clear|
|3||Pat Brown||Ladbrook Izit Dodgy||29.77 seconds||Clear|
|4||Toni Lock||Careless Whisper||30.42 seconds||Clear|
|5||Jackie Davidson||Balgonie Nutmeg||30.76 seconds||Clear|
|6||Gillian Donnison||Wharnley Merle||28.20 seconds||5 Faults|
|7||Ian Mallabar||Izzy Good Or Izzy Faulty||29.39 seconds||5 Faults|
|8||Petra C-Houghton||Mr Defeur d’O||30.59 seconds||5 Faults|
|9||Mike Richardson||Sammi the Shammi||30.73 seconds||5 Faults|
|10||John McEwan||Middleton’s Magic Mist||30.85 seconds||5 Faults|
A big thank you to Dave Ray and Pedigree for inviting me to judge at the Pedigree Highland Agility Stakes Finals.
Yes, it surely was a memorable weekend, especially when after being told by one of our top northern competitors Dianne Talbot not to mention her birthday to the crowd, I of course, couldn’t resist it and did so at the end of her round when she immediately produced a water pistol and chased me round the ring, much to the amusement of the many thousands of people who were watching!
But the final comment must go to the spectator who unknowingly stood next to an experienced agility competitor who was watching and passed a comment to his wife ‘Oh look, they have to jump off before the yellow bit at the end!'
A final thank you to Rob Hunter who not only did an excellent job of judging but also had to suffer the drive there and back and then, when we got back down to Stoneleigh, was one of my stewards for running the Pedigree Olympia Semi Finals for the following four days.