Home International Team Competition by Alan Rees, Wales Team Captain
Photographs by Polarstar Photography
No doubt this is the biggest working test arena in the World, over Saturday and Sunday the 29th and 30th of July, thousands watched England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales go head to head, with 5 Retrievers and 5 Spaniels competing in each International team.
The International course was exceptional, although very challenging, which proved to be the position over the two days of competition. The Gundog Committee and Chief Stewards, along with the arena crews, must be complemented in the set up of this challenging event.
CSJ, our sponsors for many years now, also sponsored the Irish Team, led by Willie Edgar. He felt that he had the strongest team that Ireland had fielded for many years. Wales, on the other hand, had lost Haydn Willmott from the Retriever team just one week before the Game Fair, and, on the Saturday morning of the competition, Dean Melhuish unfortunately had to withdraw his spaniel when she pulled up lame. This meant a quick change in the running order and brought in the reserve spaniel handler, the ever reliable Alastair Ross.
The spaniel test, marked out of 120 points, resulted in the Wales handlers, David Pither scoring 71 (59%), Steven Erasmus, in his first Game Fair scored 87 (73%), Kevin Woods scored 74 (62%), Alastair Ross scored 87 (73%) and an excellent performance by David Williams, running Edwardiana Howdee, scored 98 (82%), ending up at 3rd place overall in the individual spaniel competition. Top Spaniel Team was Ireland, sixty points behind in second place was Wales, eleven points ahead of England and sixteen points ahead of Scotland. This was a good result for the Welsh lads who hung on in there.
The Retriever Team, running over a very difficult track, undulating with a series of fences and thick cover crop of stubble turnip, mustard and rape, caused a few problems. I was delighted with the Welsh Retriever team’s performance; Vikki Stanley’s Minstead Maigret returned a score of 106 out of 120 (88%), Alan Rees with young Ecclestone scored 104 (87%), Barney Williams, running in his first Game Fair with another young dog Duke scored 92 (77%), Nigel Probert and the evergreen Jenny scored 97 (81%) and Vikki Stanley running her Field Trial Champion Patanavac Brough, anchoring the team, scored 102 (85%).
The Welsh Retriever Team’s total score of 501 was enough to secure the victory for the second year in succession as the Top Retriever Team, retaining the trophy. England were in second place, seven points behind Wales, followed by Scotland 46 points and Ireland 48 points adrift. This was an excellent result from a team that showed a lot of character.
Final placings for the International teams resulted in Ireland running out overall winners with 931 points, Wales an excellent second place, with 918, England in third with 900 points and Scotland in fourth with 847 points. It was a very successful weekend for Ceri, Phil and CSJ, with both their sponsored teams scooping top and second team overall, top Spaniel and top Retriever team.
Once again a huge thank you to all the handlers and helpers that were involved with the Welsh International team this year. The biggest thank you must go to CSJ our sponsor, as the International season draws to a close. As we look forward to next year’s competitions, good luck to all for this coming trialling season.
A big thank you (Diolch yn Fawr) to Ceri and Phil and all at CSJ; without your help and support we couldn’t compete at these prestigious events.
Alan Rees, Wales Team Captain.