Dogs in Need Finals Sunday
I have watched and competed in many D.I.N. finals, even winning one in 2001 with my red and white dog Tyler. So to be asked by Gerry, to judge the finals this year on the Sunday, was a dream come true for me. If you like judging, as I do, nothing can compare to officiating at the top events, and the D.I.N. finals are up there with the best of them. With about 130 competitors from starters to advanced, and the ring surrounded with hundreds of their supporters, all probably expert judges themselves. I really wanted to get it right. I spent ages working on the courses, varying the difficulty for each level without being too hard for any of them. As we all know, finals are a different ball game. Even if you have competed in them before, nerves play a big part. With all the finalists having friends, relatives and club mates willing them on, I wanted to give everyone a good chance of getting round.
The midiís got us off to a cracking start, recording 8 clear rounds out of 10 finalists. First Jane Holland with Shandy went clear in 35.63, and then Chris Partridge and Spice followed with 40.86. Karen Smith qualified two dogs for this final, and her first, Gypsy, took the lead with a clear in 34.18. The next two handlers, Kate Davoll with Sydney and Carol Wallace with Compo, both had five faults. Unfortunate for Kate because her time of 32.05 would have given her second place on the day. The top five places came from the last five dogs to run. Jennifer White and Millie took the lead with 33.02, then Rosie Ison with Disney were just outside that time with 33.67 to go into second place. Fiona Vaughan and Nell running eighth had a lovely run, going clear in 32.79. I honestly thought that could not be beaten, but up stepped Martin Tait and Suska. They stormed round in 31.40 to snatch the lead from Fiona. Only Karen Smith and Herbie left to run, and although they put in a good clear round, their time of 32.97 would not deny Martin his victory.
Midi Result 1st Martin Tait - Suskas Whirling Dervish 31.40
2nd Fiona Vaughan - Hooligan Nell 32.79
3rd Karen Smith - Man on a Mission 32.97
4th Jennifer White - Truly Modern Millie 33.02
5th Rosie - The Cartoon Classic 33.67
After a small course change we were off with the starters final. All my courses were designed for all the work to be done in the first half, leaving a nice run home to the finish. Duncan Caton running sixth with Belle were the first pairing to go clear in 39.60, but this was soon beaten by Lyn Thompson and her GSD Max. Clear in 39.22. Thirteenth to run was Emma Tabb and Willow, and a clear in 38.82 was good enough to take top spot. Pam Winder and Roxy ran straight after Emma and went into second place with a 38.88 at the halfway stage. The lead was changing all the time, and the next two handlers didnít buck that trend. Sharron Schickís time of 38.51 with her dog Dallas, put them into first place. Then Michael Stallard and his ďLoopyĒ Lurcher Islay His description not mine, had a fabulous run and knocked an incredible six seconds off the leaders time, 32.15 to storm into the lead. Only three of the last eleven dogs would have clear rounds. Colette Gibson and Flintís time of 37.30 was good enough to slip into second place behind Michael. Heidi Lawrence running Libby pulled out all the stops, and, like Michael, really pushed her dog down that long run home to go clear in a fast time of 34.18. That put her into second place, where she would stay. Emile Barnes and Lucas running twenty eighth out of the thirty also had a cracking run in 35.67 to take third spot. It was a well fought final, but the sight of Michael and his loopy lurcher Ismay, tearing down that home run with the crowd cheering him on, will live with me for a very long time. Brilliant.
Starter Result. 1st Michael Stallard - Grandeeís au pair 32.15
2nd Heidi Lawrence - Ludgate Happy Travels 34.18
3rd Emile Barnes - Sparkling Lucas 35.67
4th Colette Gibson - Flintstone Gibson 37.30
5th Sharron Schick - Saxony Golden Bear 38.51
The Novice final looked a very open affair and anyone of them could win this event on the day. The final itself produced eighteen clear rounds. The first one was by John Gilbert and Casey running third. Their time of 33.60 would eventually see them finish the competition in 8th place. Diane Griffin and Inka just pipped John by one hundredth of a second, 33.59 and finished seventh, and Hilary Crew with Red took sixth in 33.25. Running sixteenth, Evelyn Miller and Annie blistered round in 32.69 to lead the competition. Jo Latham and Jinny went into second place with a run timed at 33.19, and then Chrissy Mitchell steered Stone around in 32.64 to take the top spot from Evelyn. Alan Stiff with Meg, clear in 32.98 slipped into second place. Andy Widdessís time of 34.23 with Dale would see him finish the final in tenth place, and Wendy Fairlamb running Nugget ended up ninth in a time of 33.91. Of the last five dogs in this competition, only one of them would manage a clear round, but what a round it was. Gemma Hanekom and Booís brilliant time of 31.83 put her top of the pile, where she stayed.
Novice Result 1st Gemma Hanekom - Forest Trail 31.83
2nd Chrissy Mitchell - Blue Gem Stone 32.64
3rd Evelyn Miller - Corfu Stonewall Susanna 32.69
4th Alan Stiff - Weircourt Nutmeg 32.98
5th Jo Latham - Deeann Magic Innuendo(AW) 33.19
Out of twenty senior finalists, only five went clear. Which was quite lucky really, because places went to fifth. First to run, and our first clear, was Alan Bray and Buzz in 33.99. Paul Oldfield running seventh had a superb run with Katya and his time of 32.90 took the lead from Alan. The next eight dogs all had faults. The best being Wendy Willemse and Cisco whoís amazing time of 30.85 would have won her this final, but unfortunately picked up five faults. Lee Gibsonís clear with Che in 34.31 put them into third place with four dogs to run. Next up was Claire Rosendale and Tess. They certainly didnít hold anything back, and a lovely smooth run in 32.48 shot them into the lead. The last clear came from the last pairing to run, Karen Smith and Kizzy. They finished in third place with a time of 33.63.
Senior Result 1st Claire Rosendale - Tried and Tess Did 32.42
2nd Paul Oldfield - K.K. Magic Spirit 32.90
3rd Karen Smith - Mystic Mission 33.63
4th Alan Bray - Buzz By Name Buzz By Nature 33.99
5th Lee Gibson - Highmynd Che 34.31
Again only five clears in this competition, but this time only ten finalists. Jayne Bray and Raeven were the first to go clear in 37.01. Next on the line were Clive Snook and his incredibly fast dog, Diesel. This was Diesels first week back after recovering from an operation, but he had lost none of his enthusiasm. He flew round clear in 36.02 to snatch the lead from Jayne. Alan Bray guided Tiggy round in 37.06 to go third, just behind Jayne and Raeven. We then had to wait a couple of minutes for Alan to catch his breath, because he was straight back on the line with Skylar. After he had composed himself, he had another cracking run in a time of 36.40, and into second place. The last clear came from Sue Rolfe and Kes, and 37.39 was good enough for fifth place.
Advanced Result 1st Clive Snook - Designer Diesel Blue 36.02
2nd Alan Bray - Skys The Limit At Upanova 36.40
3rd Jayne Bray - Special Edition At Upanova 37.01
4th Alan Bray - Ag. Ch. Lunarlite Selenas Tiger At Upanova 37.06
5th Sue Rolfe - Kestrel GTX 37.39
I really enjoyed judging these finals, as far as I was concerned, it was a fabulous experience, and I hope the competitors enjoyed running my courses. Many congratulations to all the winners, and very well done to all the handlers who qualified. Itís not easy to qualify for any final these days, except if your name happens to be either Alan Bray or Karen Smith, because they both managed to get three dogs each into these finals!! Year upon year, dogs and handlers are improving. The agility bar is being raised all the time, apart from next year of course, when itís actually coming down, but thatís another story!! Thanks to everyone who helped me set up my courses on Saturday night, and to all those who worked on the ring Sunday. Special thanks to Sue and Deena for scribing, Claire Murray for being my back up timer, Mike Fairlamb and Mary Clifton for looking after all the timing equipment, Graham Partridge for being a great commentator and all the lovely ladies who supplied me with copious amounts of tea in between each final. Finally, thanks must go to Gerry for asking me to judge in the first place.