Retriever Gundogs – Selection for Team GB by Alan Rees




On Saturday 15th March 2014, not to clash with any other events, I decided to go with the selection of a dog to represent Wales as part of Team GB at the Kennel Club International at Chatsworth on May 29th and 30th, 2014. As a consensus from handlers, and requiring a ground mirroring the conditions at Chatsworth, I decided to hold the selection on Mooreland near the Dulais Top near Merthyr. I’m indebted to Wesley Thomas for allowing us to use this fantastic, testing ground.

Due to certain pressures this season I brought Roger Phillips in to assist with the selection and the running of the day, and I would like to thank him for all his hard work. The judge was Jayne Coley, a lady who needs no introduction having won the open working test and judged the International at Chatsworth the year before; who better to assess our top dogs for what they were to be put through. I would like to thank Jayne for her contribution, fairness and leniency during the selection test, as some handlers had travelled from as far away as Anglesey.

Why not a Welsh A Panel judge you may ask? – as some have commented – Out of six A panel judges, Roger had given his commitment to assist, I made it clear that I wanted to compete, two others had made apologies as they had business commitments, one was to judge the International, so I felt looking for just one dog, relating to Team GB, not a Welsh Team, that Jayne was the ideal candidate to assess the dogs at the selection day.

A criterion was set for entry, a dog must have at least won a Novice Trial or an Open Working Test, and hence over 20 calls were made to invite the pool, of which eleven dogs started. The first stage was a static test with a mark over a wall and a short blind, both in rush; this caused the majority of dogs a problem. We then proceeded to a drive, after the drive three retrieves were to be collected, a blind across the lake, a blind out along a track and a very long mark. The water proved to be the end for three dogs, all failing to enter water. The mark proved too difficult for two dogs but the blind was achieved well by the majority. Hence we arrived at a late lunch with only four dogs going forward to the walk up exercises in the afternoon.

At this stage Craig Perry and Alan Rees were within a couple of points of each other with Nigel Probert some points adrift and with Annie Wales just behind Nigel, all to play for. The walk up was in four phases a mark, then a blind, a double element with a blind and marked diversion and then a long blind with no shot, all designed to simulate a shooting day. The come back then started, Nigel Probert achieving a maximum 100% on these tests. I had not seen anything like this since watching Billy Steel Senior years ago gaining a 100% at the Game Fair, well done Nigel.

At the end of the day – comments, all compliments flowed that the last four dogs had been superb over these tests, the ground had been testing and fantastic, and that the tests set were superb – thank you one and all for your kind comments. My thanks must go to the helpers, and all who arranged the day, and although the competition was intense the atmosphere was a credit to all concerned

The end result was a tie for first place between Nigel Probert and Craig Perry then 3 points adrift Alan Rees, and then came Annie Wales, credit to all four dogs. As this was a selection day Nigel Probert was the dog selected to represent Wales at Team GB, his six maximum scores of 20 out of a possible 20 was enough to tip the balance for me. Craig achieved two maximums, Alan with four and Annie with two.

At this level of competition there isn’t a lot to separate dogs and handlers; these were four beautiful dogs on show.

Thanks to you all.

Alan Rees.

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