The Kennel Club Working Trial Championships take place each year hosted by a different Society in a different place. This year it was the turn of the Midland Border Collie Club and based in the heart of the countryside in Leicestershire. Taking place over three days in October, competitors were invited from the ticket winners in both the Tracking Dog and Patrol Dog stakes over the previous 12 months.
This usually brings forth around 12/14 in TD and 5/6 in PD, but this year the bad weather which cancelled several trials and the retirement of multi-ticket winning Border Collie WT CH Stardell Alula (Nell) resulted in only two competitors in the PD stake for judge Eric Roberts. These two consisted of last year’s winner Lee Payne and X Breed WT CH Little Rough Rhinestone (Diesel), and Nell’s handler Dave Olley with his other dog, XBreed WT Ch Little Raymond (Ray), which is litter brother to Diesel.
In TD, judged this year by Jean Howells, there were 13 dogs with 12 handlers with Tony Lockyer working two dogs. It wouldn’t really seem like a KCCs if Tony wasn’t there with two dogs, such has been his success over the years. His current Border Collie WT CH Double Top at Hartshill (Gyp) holds the record for the most tickets won in TD with 17, and has won the KCCs twice before. His GSD WT CH Lawinick Come N Get it at Hartshill (Isla) was making her third appearance at the Championships having qualified and been placed fourth previously.
Among the other 11 handlers were 7 Working Trial Champions with handlers that had done it all before, including last year’s winner Andy Baker with B.C WT CH Sid the Lemon Squeezer (Sid).
In addition there was one young dog with an experienced handler and three newcomers who were making their first appearance. As in the PD there was also a dog that had qualified but retired, and although Sheila Tannert was working her Labrador WT CH Styperson Cleo (Teal), I am sure she was disappointed that her other Labrador WT CH Styperson Ebony had to retire before the event.
Tracking for TD went on over two days and both the PD dogs tracked on Friday. The ground was winter wheat and the weather was reasonable for the time of year, but for whatever reason the dogs did not find it easy and six TD dogs went out on this section, some with a lack of articles and others just not making it round the track. Both PD dogs completed their nosework in qualifying marks although Dave and Ray left an article in the square, so were seven marks behind Lee and Diesel.
Whichever member of the MBCC managed to arrange with the Ministry of Defence to use the venue for the final day’s Control and Agility should be congratulated. The Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray provided the perfect venue in terms of position, facilities and sheer space for both competitors and spectators. With ample parking, refreshments and clear view of the proceedings it couldn’t be bettered and it was also very easy to find.
Control and Agility
The final day started with the Control and Agility for the two PD dogs both of which managed to qualify and then it was straight into the C&A for TD. With such a lovely big field Jean was able to set a good test within clear sight of the spectators, and all teams worked well, but unfortunately three more went out on this section including Tony’s Gyp who at nine years old found the jumps a bit too difficult.
This left just four dogs on qualifying marks after the stays and these took the honours with Tony Lockyer once again leading the way but with Isla this time, the first time he has done it with a GSD. Next with the Reserve ticket came last year’s winners Andy and Sid just 2.5 points behind Tony, and in third place was Diane Ling and another of the X Breed litter WT CH Deben Little Tom with Sheila and Teal in fourth place.
Eric set an interesting and challenging patrol round with quite a stiff test of courage and a big quarter taking in some of the natural cover the field had to offer. Both dogs coped very well and Dave and Ray managed to claw some marks back from Lee and Diesel, but in the end they hung on to the lead and won by just 2.5 marks, making it the second year running for this team.
Although not qualified myself this year I enjoyed the event just as much if not more without the nerves that go with competing, and it was lovely to see all the dogs working so well, and the best of the best showing us what they could do.