Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2009 New England Open report and photos

Front from left, Alex Smith with Runnerup Ch. Serious Threat; Erin and John Stolgitis with Ch. Chasehill Little Bud. Rear from left, Mike Tracy, Jeanette Tracy, judge Dom Preite, John Fino, judge Richard Giuliano, reporter Janice Gregory, Monique Giuliano, and Elias Richardson.



POMFRET, Conn. — When the field trial party staying at Harry Townshend’s Ragged Hill Farm for the New England Open came downstairs on the morning of the opening day of the championship, Chasehill Little Bud had breakfast waiting for them. He’d cooked eggs and bacon, pancakes, toast and coffee. Previous to that, he had run out to get the newspaper, had fed and watered all the horses, and had them saddled and ready to go.

OK, possibly a slight exaggeration. But really, is there anything this dog isn't capable of doing?

In the words of judge Dom Preite, “Almost freaklike. That’s how good a dog he is.’'

Judges Dom Preite, left, and Richard Giuliano, right

After taking the runnerup position last fall in the 80th New England Open, Chasehill Little Bud came roaring back this year, and with eight finds and a bang-up race was named 2009 New England Open champion.

Bud, now a seven-time champion, is owned and handled by John Stolgitis of Ashaway, RI. The white and liver pointer primarily is a cover dog, spending much of his time in Northern New England hunting grouse and woodcock while being handled on foot. However, he’s proved himself time and time again to be versatile and talented enough to adapt to changes that would confound most humans, never mind canines.

The dog is receptive to being handled by virtually anyone. His record of wins proves he can run equally successfully in walking and horseback stakes, and he can find birds in the heaviest cover or on the longest, clearest edge of a field.

The 4-year-old pointer showed his skills during this particular championship with eight well-spaced finds. His style running and pointing was impeccable. He hunted the woods thoroughly and rimmed the fields where it was possible.

There was absolutely no question that when he pointed, birds would be found. He ran with speed and snap, and finished strong and going away.

There would be no other dog in the 36 dog stake that would come close to beating him.

Runnerup in the championship went to Serious Threat, a pointer male owned by Greg and Maggie Strausbaugh of Mifflinburg, Pa., and handled by Mike Tracy.

Serious Threat had seven finds and a good, controllable race. He was very biddable to his handler. A mature dog, he did things right and was impeccable on his game.

One difference between champion and runnerup? Bud offered more eye appeal, and on point he had an extremely straight tail and a high head.

Also differentiating the two dogs was the way they moved as they went through the cover. Serious Threat lacked the animation running but his performance overall was smooth. “He had great bird work. It was a finished performance by the handler and the dog,’’ said judge Richard Giuliano, of Serious Threat. “A stand-up birddog,’’ was how judge Preite described him.

There were several other dogs that caught the judges’ eyes and honorable mention was given to: Ironstone Jungle King (Richardson), Klee’s Handsome Hank (M. Tracy), Klee’s Shooting Star (M. Tracy), Our Big Bully (M. Tracy), Ragged Hill Danny (Jacobs) and Sunkhaze Fast Break (Stolgitis).

The field trial party heads out


In the first brace of the trial, which began late Monday morning due to an early-season snowstorm Sunday night, Noble Bailey’s Addition (M. Tracy) was paired with Sukara’s Grace (J. Tracy). Owner Chris Palmer was riding to watch his dog, Bailey. It took Bailey a little bit of time to get rolling. He had his first find at 19 under the mountain laurel, pointing with his head and tail high. His next stand, following two relocations, proved to be barren, but he would wind up with three finds and one unproductive for his hour. Grace had two nice, quick finds, and then disappeared.

In the second brace, Avalon Creek (M. Tracy) and Ironstone Jungle King (Richardson) started off their hour with a divided find. Avalon Creek ran with good style and speed and went on to have five finds. She was one of the few dogs to point a pheasant. Jungle King took his edges nicely and finished his hour with three clean finds, one unproductive and two backs.

Klee’s Handsome Hank (M. Tracy) and Klee’s Gentle Ben (J. Tracy) started the third brace with a divided find. Hank would have two more finds in the first half of his hour, followed by three more finds in the second half. Combine that with a nice ground race and a dog who looked good on his birds, and judges had found themselves a contender for the top position. Ben really didn’t get himself going and with one find and one stop-to-flush, he finished his hour.

Eli Richardson, always ready to run another one :-)

Lawless Lady (M.Tracy) and Chasehill Little Bud (Stolgitis) were paired in the fourth brace. Bud has been previously described, and his performance pushed Klee’s Handsome Hank to the runnerup position. Lawless Lady, just coming off her first-place performance at the Northeastern Open Shooting Dog Championship, had five nice finds and a good ground race but didn’t push the leaders.

Bruce and Barbara Jacobs at the breakaway with Ragged Hill Danny

In the fifth brace, Klee’s Calypso (M. Tracy) was picked up at 30 for not pleasing his handler. Ragged Hill Danny (Jacobs) did a lovely job hunting and finding birds all over the course. He logged five well-spaced finds in the first 30 minutes, making some nice workmanlike swings through the woods and fields. One find had Danny pointing along the edge of the field near the sawmill. It took a relocation to pin the birds, but he accomplished that nicely. On the back half of the course, Danny rimmed the big green field like it was his job. Point was called at the end of the field for him, and was followed by three more finds, the last as his hour ended.

Talisman (M. Tracy) was braced with Secret Weapon (Stolgitis) for the sixth brace. Talisman was not himself today. He had four finds but bypassed several opportunities to point other birds. Secret Weapon had one find early on but was picked up at 15. She had stopped on point then went with the other handler who was looking for his dog.

The seventh brace was up early. Sweet Pea (Stolgitis) and Gamestopper (M. Tracy) had a divided find at the first feeder and Sweet Pea went with the birds. Gamestopper was mannerly to the flush and was sent on, but after that find he disappeared.

Jim Kilrain, left, receives some moral support
from pro trainers Brian Hays,center, and Brian Breveleri
before he rides to watch his dog, Currahee.

Stone Tavern Matrix (M. Tracy) and Currahee (Jacobs) were paired in the eighth brace. Matrix had one find then got lost. Currahee, with owner Jim Kilrain riding, had a find on a running pheasant, but was picked up at 35 for not pleasing his handler.

In the ninth brace, Serious Threat (M. Tracy) was paired with I Wannabe A Cowgirl (J. Tracy). Serious Threat was previously described. With his outstanding performance, he pushed Klee’s Handsome Hank out of the runnerup spot. Jeanette called for the tracker at 14 for the missing Cowgirl.

Fazan’s Stress Free (M. Basilone) and Sunkhaze Fast Break (Stolgitis) comprised the 10th brace. Stress Free was not up to championship standards this day, yet he finished his hour. Fast Break hunted the heck out of the countryside and logged nine well-spaced finds. His hour was marred, though, by an average race.

Jill Stolgitis, ready to ride :-)

In the 11th brace, Our Big Bully (M. Tracy) had six total finds and looked magnificent on his birds, but he didn’t have the power and stamina of the top dogs, letting down about halfway through his hour. Sunkhaze Maggie Mae (Stolgitis) had four finds then had to be picked up for refusing to back.

In the 12th brace, Klee’s Shooting Star (M. Tracy) was paired with Triple Nickle Nick (M. Basilone). The tracking collar was requested for Nick at 19. Star went on to do a very nice job in her hour. She had somewhat of a slow start, but when she got rolling she had a total of eight finds and proved herself to be a very nice little cover dog.

Cold Case (M. Tracy) and Elhew Dancing Fire (Jacobs) were paired in the 13th brace. Cold Case had four finds in the front of the course, one in the back for a total of five. While he gave a nice performance, Cold Case didn’t alter the standings. Elhew Dancing Fire started her hour with a pretty find but after her second unproductive, she was picked up.

In the 14th brace were C-Note (M. Tracy) and Fazan’s Delite (M. Basilone). C-Note was picked up for not maintaining a back, and while Delite finished her hour with several finds, she wasn’t performing up to the best of her ability.

In the 15th brace, judges pretty much knew what they were looking for in a champion and runnerup, so although Caladen’s Sawmill Struttin (M. Tracy) had one nice find, it was his one unproductive that put him out of contention. Sukara’s Come Home Jessie (J. Tracy) was suffering from limber tail this day. She had three finds, was lost for a while, then had an unproductive and was picked up.

Hifalutin (M. Tracy) and High Noon Jill (Jacobs) were paired in the 16th brace. Hifalutin had a find at the second feeder then disappeared. Jill looked good this day and logged several nice finds for herself. She ran a pretty race but was no challenge to the leaders.

Although he had three finds, an unproductive halted Buffalo Creek’s (M. Tracy) chances in the 17th brace. Bay Country Hope (J. Tracy) had three finds and one unproductive then disappeared.

Sugar Knoll Jack is taken on after a successful find
on the left edge of the back field

Sugar Knoll Jack (Fino) and Magnotta’s Red Icewine (M. Tracy) were paired in the 18th and final brace of the championship. Icewine was picked up at 15. Jack went on to do his usual outstanding job. He finished his hour with seven crackerjack finds and was hurt only by a slightly shorter race than the winner and runnerup.

James Scheuritzel helps plant birds. Thanks James! :-)


As everyone knows, no one leaves the New England Open hungry. On Monday night, a cocktail party sponsored by Tom Tracy and Joe McHugh, owners of last year’s champion, Stone Free, was held. Huge cocktail shrimp, wine and cheese of every kind, cocktail meatballs, homemade sopressata, and wild mushrooms in a tomato sauce were only a portion of the delicacies offered. That was followed by the annual lobster boil where 75 lobsters found their way into the pot. On Tuesday night, dinner consisted of a monster-size prime rib cooked to perfection. Wednesday’s lunch offered up leftovers of all kinds, running the gamut from plain ol’ hamburgers to lobster bisque made from the leftover lobster shells steamed in sherry.

This championship couldn’t be held without the involvement of many dedicated people. Judges Richard Giuliano and Dom Preite gave up three vacation days to sit in their saddles and watch 36 talented dogs. Tom Gates drove down from the hinterlands of New York State to Ragged Hill Farm early in the weekend to make sure everything was in good order when the championship started on Monday morning. Dick Bembenek helped prepare the meals.

Master chefs Bobcat, left, and Bernie Gelineau, ready to boil the lobsters

The regular crew from Thompson Rod & Gun Club carried out the lobster boil. John Fino chipped in with the cooking and Elias Richardson made his string of horses available to whoever needed them.

John Fino, always ready with a smile :-)

Neighbor Arlene Skarani brewed up the usual, amazing lobster bisque. Ragged Hill caretakers Keri and Adam Scheuritzel were on hand each day helping out when necessary and their son, James, cheerfully planted as many birds as were given to him.

From left, Tom Gates, Harry Townshend and Bruce Jacobs

* And, of course, there would be no New England Open without the generosity of Deb and Harry Townshend. Each year the Townshends open up Ragged Hill Farm to field trialers to serve as headquarters for the venerable championship. Harry and Deb were on hand all day Tuesday to make sure everything was running smoothly and that everyone was comfortable and feeling at home. They kept the fireplace well-stoked with wood, offering folks a place to get warm when it got too chilly outside, and were always ready for some good conversation by the fire. Without Ragged Hill Farm and the Townshends, the New England Open Championship would not have the ambience that we’ve come to know and love.

Riding on a beautiful fall day at Ragged Hill Farm

1 comment:

  1. Thank You Janice for a wonderful report and pictures. It made me really want to come there sometime soon.

    Dale Hernden