Congratulations to Sian & Maybe for a Gold and Natasha & Dizzy for a Silver

Here are the latest results from the Agility European Open Championships 2013 – Agility Team GB, sponsored by CSJ.

In the Medium Individual, Sian and ‘Maybe’ won a Gold and Natasha and Dizzy won a Silver.
Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 05.24.14Sian Illingworth and her dog ‘Maybe’ beat nearly 60 competitors from all over the world including current world champions, Natasha Wise and her dog Dizzy, who took Silver.

Sian brings home a Gold in the European Open Medium Individual Final. Huge well done to Sian and Maybe.

Competing for the first time at the European Open and up against over 80 other pairs, Matthew Goodliffe and his dog ‘Quincy’ won the Bronze medal in the European Open Large Individual Final. Big congratulations from all of us to Matthew, Quincy and all our incredibly hard working and enthusiastic Agility Team GB.




Well just having returned from the CLA Game Fair International Gundog Working Test, I have to admit it was an exciting competition, with the best spaniels and retrievers in the British Isles competing for individual and team competitions. There is only one stage for the ultimate professional and their quality gundog to compete and perform, it is this competition and now in its 36th year.

As Captain of Wales, I have to say things didn’t start well, on the previous Wednesday Aled Jones’ Meg the Machine withdrew as she was in season, this bitch having won the Spaniel Championship in 2011, this was a big loss. If that wasn’t enough the night we traveled, Mark Bettinson had to withdraw Astraglen Milo from the retriever team – the dog had been bitten and was at the vet.

In came Dickie Jones to the Spaniel team and Kevin Downs at short notice to the Retriever team, then eventually things settled down and we had a full team of ten dogs to compete. The Game Fair organisers had worked so hard to set up this course and I was so pleased to see all their work come to fruition – a personal thank you to them all.

As a team I was pleased to see progress from a mix of youth and experience in the team – the spaniel team in third place and the retriever team in third place as well –

SPANIELS                                                               RETRIEVERS

Ireland ——-526                                                      England —— 556

Scotland —–507                                                      Ireland ——- 537

Wales ——–494                                                      Wales ——– 495

England ——480                                                      Scotland —– 493

Our overall position was 4th  —– 11 points behind Scotland in 3rd, 49 points behind England in 2nd, but 74 points behind the winning score of Ireland.

I was delighted to see retriever and spaniel scores over 100 out of a possible 120 from 5 of our dogs. Three retrievers on 102,105 and 115, then two of our spaniels on 103 and 111, well done lads. Other members of the team put up very good scores under pressure, the heat and conditions on Saturday was very different to those on Sunday, but well done one and all – no Welsh dog failed any of the tests.

Highlight of the weekend for the team was to witness Andy Fisher running last for the retrievers on Sunday afternoon. Andy and his Golden Retriever TRIGGER set the crowd alight chasing John Halstead’s 118 out of 120. The dog and handler gave a fantastic account of themselves ending up in a run off for 3rd place with 115. Andy took 3rd place convincingly at the run off in the individual competition. Aled Jones, with his young spaniel also had a fantastic run, just missing out on an individual 3rd place by 1 point.

Well again we were very well supported and I thank all the well wishers, clubs, societies and individuals at the event and the help received leading up to the event. We appreciate your support.

Leading onto our very special thank you – this thank you is for CSJ dog food for the continued support and sponsorship of this team. In economic times such as these it would be impossible for us as the Welsh Team to run at this most prestigious and highest profiled International Gundog event.



Alan Rees – Wales Team Captain.

Rising Stars of Canicross

Jim Urwin introduces the sport of canicross and tells the story of how German Shorthaired Pointers aSONY DSCre becoming one of the most popular and successful dogs with competitors in the UK

“Canicross is cross-country racing with your dog.  Typically, the runner has a belt, the dog has a harness and the two are connected by a bungee-type lead.  If all goes according to plan, the dog helps to pull the runner along at a faster pace than they would normally achieve on their own – extremely exhilarating.

Canicross grew out of sled dog racing where it is seen as a way of helping to keep dogs fit out-of-season.  The sport is well-established in mainland Europe: the fifteenth running of the annual European Canicross Championships took place last October.  In the UK, canicross only really began as an organised sport,around 6 years ago, but has progressed rapidly since.  The season, which runs from the start of September through to mid-May, now includes nearly forty races around the country.

Venues vary, but events are most frequently held in woodland belonging to the Forestry Commission, sometimes in country parks and occasionally on National Trust estates (all usually very nice locations whether you are running or not).  There is even a night race and a beach race.  Often there are two races at a weekend, on the Saturday and then the Sunday, over the same circuit.  Races start at 10am at the latest so that the dogs are running in the coolest of conditions possible.

Races for adults are usually between three and three and half miles long.  Conditions, and hence times, can vary considerably: the steepness of the terrain, conditions underfoot and the weather all play a part.

At most events, the races are time-trialled with competitors setting off every ten seconds.  There are many different categories.  Men and women compete separately and according to age group: in the UK, the categories are up to 40 years old, 40-49 and 50 and over.  There is also a race for those wanting to run with two dogs, as well as races over about one and a quarter miles for 7-10 year olds, teenagers and adult newcomers who want to test themselves over a shorter distance.  Points are awarded depending on how high up the order you finish, and at the end of the season those with the most points in each age category become the UK National Champion in their category.  Courtesy of the sponsors, currently CSJ, each champion receives a year’s worth of free dog food.  The dogs have to be over one year old to compete.

Runners and dogs c582810_4336187648822_110824198_n[2]ome in many different shapes and sizes.  This is a sport for all with the emphasis being as much on fun, a bit of exercise and socialising (for humans and dogs alike) as well as the racing itself.

I did my first canicross race with our Siberian Husky-German Shepherd cross, Casper, in September 2008.  Athletics was never my sport as a youngster, but I have always run to keep fit and could never see the point in going for a run and then afterwards taking the dog out for walk.  Combining the two always seemed to me to be the more sensible approach .

When I first started doing canicross events, I just raced with a normal lead to the collar, running side-by-side with Casper, but soon progressed to the canicross kit.  The following season (2009/10), at the grand old age of 58, I won the 50+ years old (‘Veteran Male’) National Championship.  But by then, my wife, Maggie, and I already had our eyes set on a new recruit.

In October 2009, we had headed off in our camper van to experience our first European Canicross Championships, held that year in Hungary.  I was one of a squad of 16 men and women repreJim Urwinsenting the UK.  The event was a real eye-opener.  We expected there to be lots of huskies, and there were.  But most of the top European runners had either GSPs or Eurohounds, a mix of GSP and Alaskan Husky, but looking, to our untrained eyes, very GSP-like, albeit up to fifty per cent bigger.

No sooner had we got home than Maggie, who has supported me endlessly throughout my canicross ‘career’, started doing the research.  She learnt that Steve and Bev Beresford’s bitch, Tessie, at Tuptonsett was about to have a litter at Christmas.  So two weeks after the arrival of eleven puppies off we went to take a look.  To a bemused Steve and Bev, we explained why we wanted a GSP.  After some reflection, Steve said, that’s the one you want, pointing to a black and white ball of fur (Tuptonsett Inca), who we were later to name Boris.  And how right he was.

Over the following year, throughout 2010, we took Boris along to canicross events as I continued to compete with Casper.  He looked, learnt, and became accustomed to the routine, although, if he had his way, he would have joined in from the very first time he saw the racing.  As he grew older, I let him run alongside me and Casper on our training runs.  The first time I put him in a harness for a test run we ran just half a mile along an uneven bridleway in precisely two and half minutes, way faster than I had ever run with Casper (way, way faster than I could ever run on my own).  Maggie and I knew we had a special dog.

The big day arrived at the end of January 2011: Boris’ first race.  Come the finish line, I was exhausted – and the timekeepers were disbelieving of the time they had recorded.  How could an old man and a young dog run so fast?  Any doubts they had about their electronic timing equipment were dispelled the next day when we raced the same course again and recorded virtually the same time.  The scene had been set.

Over the next four months until the end of the 2010/11 season, Boris and I won every Veterans race and were invariably amongst the top three, four or five fastest runners of all the age groups.  A second National Championship was secured, and then again, last season (the 2011/12 season), with Boris taking over full-time from Casper, a third; and by the time this article is published, fingers crossed, a fourth title will be in the bag well before the last race of the current 2012/13 season has been run (as I write, we have a significant lead in the table).  Boris is making up for my aging legs.

It was however in the European Canicross Championships in Poland in October 2011 that Boris really made his mark when we won gold in the ‘Super-Veterans’ (60+ year old) category and became the first ever Brits to be champions of any age group – and then we were lucky enough to do it again last October when the Championships were held in the UK for the first time, at Cirencester Park in Gloucestershire.

We cannot recall a GSP running at a canicross race in the UK until Boris came along.  Today, the contrast could not be greater.  It is difficult to be precise but it seems to us that just about every other new puppy or dog acquired by regular canicross competitors is a GSP.  This comes as no surprise.  In addition to the successes I have enjoyed with Boris, we have now seen, amongst others, a UK female competitor win European gold last October at Cirencester Park in the 50-59 years old age group with her GSP, and the UK female teenagers championship won last season by a girl competing with her young GSP.  This current season in the UK Championship, the 19-39 years old female category looks set to be won by another runner with a young GSP.

So what makes GSPs so good at canicross?  Just what GSP owners would know already: their athleticism, their speed, strength and power, and their sheer enthusiasm.  Born to run, born to race is how we often describe Boris.  It is no wonder that they are the rising stars of canicross – and they come with the bonus of being such lovely, characterful pets and companions too.

Boris also has one other characteristic that, on the one hand, is a very good thing, but on the other has nearly got us disqualified on several occasions: he is phenomenally competitive, to the extent that he wants to tell dogs we pass who he sees as a threat not to think about coming back and trying to overtake us.  A little word in their ear is how I would describe it!  We learned belatedly that Boris’ father – Susan and Norris Davison’s Wyatt – has the Kennel Club name, Seek Infront.  How apt we thought when we first heard: like father, like son.  Then we thought about it some more and decided that slightly more appropriate for Boris would be Seek Infront At All Costs!  Maybe it is that edginess in races that makes him an exceptional champion”.


For more information on canicross and the UK Championship, go to: To see canicross in action, and to see Jim (and Boris!) interviewed, there’s a very good video of last October’s European Canicross Championships here on our website.  

This article first appeared in: GSP Association magazine


  1. The setting up of the British Sleddog Sports Federation as the umbrella organisation for canicross in GB and Northern Ireland
  2. How local canicross groups are beginning to set themselves up around the country – with the intention of organising their own races
  3. How increasingly ‘normal’ cross-country races and fun runs are allowing competitors to run with their dogs
Jim’s latest plans are to focus on:
2 (warm-up) races at Nettetal in Germany on the weekend of 5/6 October 2013
The European Canicross Championships at Porrentruy in Switzerland the following weekend: 12 and 13 October 2013
The Trophee de Sud Borgogne – racing over 8 days around Gueugnon in France from 26 October to 2 November 2013
The World Dry Sleddog Championship (in the canicross races as part of the GB squad) near Treviso in north-east Italy -(8-10 November 2013
A series of four weekend ECF Grand Prix between February or March and May involving events in Belgium, Holland, France and Germany.
 Canix races, parkruns and ‘ad hoc’ races as a way of staying fit.
But as Jim wisely says,  everything hinges, of course, on no injuries or other unforeseen events.  The one predictable thing about canicross is that it is unpredictable!
“I reckon that at my age – I will be 62 at the end of this year – I cannot go on being competitive for much longer (particularly as, with the exception of the European Championship where there is a specific over-60s age group, I have to compete in the over-50s category with runners up to twelve years younger than me) so I want to make the most of the coming season.  That said, if we don’t win anything again or fail to get a podium finish, I will  not be too upset.  After four national titles and two European golds – the one in Poland in 2011 being the first ever achieved by a Brit in any age category – I feel that I have nothing to left to prove and that as long as we have fun on our travels around Europe meeting people from various countries with the same dog-focused interest that will be good enough in itself”.

Andy Fisher wins top Welsh dog at the CLA 2013

Well what a weekend that was, asImage  a CLA virgin you can imagine some of the emotions I went through in the build- up, the waiting until the second day and then finally running my Goldie for the Welsh team last dog…the first Golden ever for Wales. Just about lunchtime my stomach knotted as the reality of the challenge hit home…. and then soon after the thrill of facing the fear and trying to win kicked in and as you know there is no feeling quite like it. There was a high score to aim at and I was determined to attack it.

I really hope you were able to see his run as I think it was one that will be remembered down the years ……….if not by anyone else at least by me. His blind retrieve up the arena after the water retrieve was to anyone who knows the way Goldies work was a thing of beauty. To return a 96% score for the team was just what I wanted and had there not been a shot in one of the scurry rings  during his out run on the final retrieve it could have better but I cannot dwell on that. To finish 3rd overall and top Welsh dog was satisfying indeed.

When all the Halstead clan individually take the trouble to congratulate and acknowledge the quality of work my dog did it reminds me just how good my lad is and as an amateur trainer with a demanding full time job how lucky I am, he has taken me places that most people will never go: for which I am very grateful. As I write my skin is crawling at the memory – a memory you helped make and that will never be forgotten.

The whole CLA experience was very good, funded in large part by your generous sponsorship for which I wish to extend my sincere and grateful thanks on behalf of both of us. Our  hotel was to a good standard, the food was very good and the grounds were perfect for the dogs to both relax and to warm-up for the competition.

The office is a difficult place to adjust to today, but  after short reflection it’s Anglesey next where again the CSJ name will be to the fore and for all the support you have provided  I again offer my gratitude.

Best regards and Good luck

Andy Fisher

Frankee and Scout’s fantastic year


Latest update from Emma Lavender
Loughbrough 18/19.05.2013 2nd in B and 3rd in B sunday
Waldridge Fell 27.05.2013 1st in B
Cheshire 02.06.2013 1st in B
Preston 15.06.2013 1st in B
NATS 22.06.2013 2nd in B
NATS 23.06.2013 3rd in B
Rugby 05.05.2013 2nd in B
Waldridge Fell 25.05.2013 1st in B
NATS 23.06.2013 1st in B
Newmarket 30.06.2013 6th in B
Beverley 14.07.2013 1st in B
“Both dogs have had a fab year so far, Frankee is now C only, having won another 3 Bs this year and Scout the baby has won 2 Bs this year, so now he only needs one more to be C only. They are on form at the moment, both were in the same B last weekend and Scout won a 1st after a run off and Frankee won a 3rd so I’m really happy with them. I am training them both for C so hoping to get some qualifiers for ticket towards the end of the year”. Emma Lavender

When breeders get it wrong…

Article by Wendy Beasley

ImageAlthough most breeders’ worst nightmare is producing stock with hereditary defects of health or temperament, the next thing on the worry list must be finding the right homes. Although I have been breeding for over 30 years, in all that time I have only had cause to regret my choice of owners three or four times, it is still devastating when it happens and it has just happened again.

Absolutely delighted

I was absolutely delighted with my last litter of nine well bred, healthy and outgoing working border collies, and my only concern was finding the right people to give them the best chance of fulfilling their potential. With previous pups from a similar mating going into agility and doing well I had some enquiries and a couple of successful sales to the agility fraternity, and my own connections with trials ensured that four of the pups went in that direction.

Contrary to my usual practice I did let one of the pups go to a pet home, but it was an active home with experience of collies and a lady with lots of time to spend with him and I have since see how well he has turned out. The last two pups went to do obedience and of these one is doing very well and has paid us a visit to show how much she has learned, but the other has just come back to us because her owners could not cope with her.


I must confess to having my doubts about this particular home at the time, as the couple turned out to be considerably older than I had anticipated from the original phone call. However, the lady who was intending to work the pup assured me that she was very experienced with collies and not only owned and worked two but also ran training classes, so I had no reason to suspect that they wouldn’t be able to cope. As it turned out they were the last to choose their pup and the pup that was left was the smallest by quite a lot.

Although by no means a runt she was undeniably only about half the size of the rest of the litter, but more than made up for this with her bold and determined temperament, so I had no reason to think she would be any less that the rest. I explained this to the couple and said that what she lacked in size she made up for in heart, and even as a tiny pup she was exceptionally fast and agile. When they came to collect her at 8 weeks little Mo, as we called her, literally ran rings around them for fun, and I felt another pang of anxiety, but they assured me that they were not concerned and would manage fine so I convinced myself everything would be alright.

Out of the blue

For the first few weeks I had constant updates and photos of Mo (now renamed Lexie) and they seemed absolutely delighted with her, so I felt relieved and did not worry when I heard nothing more from them. That was until last week when, out of the blue, I had a phone call to say they loved her to bits but could not keep her as she was too much for them and they couldn’t cope. Apparently, she didn’t come when she was called, was never still, didn’t miss a thing and chased traffic. Needless to say, we arranged to collect her the next day, although we were very concerned about what we would be collecting as she had been made to sound like some sort of mad dog.

We cannot fault her

When we collected her she came with us without a backward glance, jumped into our van and traveled home silently. When we arrived home we let her straight onto the paddock to stretch her legs but she did not know what to do as she had never been off a line, and when I called her to me she showed no recognition of her name.  We decided then and there to change it back to Mo, and within 24 hours she was coming when she was called, had met and made friends with all our dogs and the cats, settled into the kennel and run and joined us in the house for the evening.

She sleeps soundlessly in her cage at night, runs and plays on the paddock three times a day, and is already searching for articles, retrieving a ball, walking nicely on the lead and showing no signs of chasing traffic. We have taken her out with us to a trials training day and she has met our friends and their dogs without incident, and although she is naive and not socialised, her natural temperament is such that if anything spooks her she takes a second look and then gets used to it. So far we cannot fault her and our only headache will be finding the right home for her, as we clearly didn’t manage it last time. We really cannot keep her with six dogs of our own, one more isn’t really an option, but if she doesn’t go soon it will be that much harder to part with her. Who says breeders don’t care!!

Stop press! Updates from Huw Jones at the Irish Game Fair

WGD2We received a big thank you from Victoria Pritchard for sponsoring the team selected to run for Wales at the Irish game fair. It was the first time for all the four team members, captained by Huw Jones to run at the Irish game fair.

“The dogs ran well over a challenging  but pleasurable course. It was an ideal environment for the team to get together and support each other. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience and all the dogs ran well.

As always Huw Jones put his all into making the event run as smoothly as possible. As a coach he is second to none, helping and supporting each team member, especially when the going got tough”. Vickey Pritchard

Huw Jones from Ffynongain Gundogs, who  competed at the Irish Game Fair for the first time.commented “We just got back early this morning from the Irish Game fair, the team did well and flew the flag for CSJ. Sadly we did not win, but the experience that the new members are gaining is great. We pushed Ireland  and came first all the way but it was not to be – the standard of the dogs was excellent with the winning Irish dog scoring 98 from 100 on a very hard course, Nigel was running for Wales for only the second time and was in the lead up until the last two dogs ran, but could not hold on and came third. We were asked non-stop as we walked round the game fair about CSJ.

Everyone was very pleased with the food and they say a lot more are using it in Ireland now. I must say we did look really smart in our kit. We will now be going to Anglesey show in August for the return home international. One thing I must say without your support and help we would not be able to get new dog handlers in Wales started within the International set-up and I know they all would like to thank you for the kind sponsorship. So from me and the Wales gundog team thank you Ceri and CSJ for everything” Huw Jones

And finally  “a big thank you for your sponsorship for Wales gundogs this year. Hope we do better at Anglesey. Once again a very big thank you”  Paul Hobbs, team member.