Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2 New Englanders Win Big in Virginia

Front left, Frank Skut with RU Ch. Yankie's Ginnie Girl, and Bill Whigham with Ch. Fox Cobble Jack. Rear, from left, judge Til Hankley, reporter Cynthia Brown, and judge Tommy Stargell. (Photos courtesy of the U.S. Complete website.)

Two New Englanders have taken Virginia by storm and have shown what northern birddogs can accomplish on southern grounds.

Bill Whigham's Champion Fox Cobble Jack on point.
Bill Whigham of South Hadley, Mass., and Frank Skut of Colchester, Conn., won champion and runner-up honors, respectively, at the 2011 U.S. Complete Amateur Invitational Championship held Dec. 9-10 at Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area in Mecklenburg County, Va. Fourteen dogs were invited to the event. Eleven were drawn. Each dog ran a one-hour course on each of the two days. Judges were Til Hankley and Tommy Stargell. Reporter was Cynthia Brown.

RU Ch. Yankie's Ginnie Girl on point.
 The Champion, Fox Cobble Jack, a pointer male owned and trained by Bill, had four nice finds and one back on his first day of running, and two finds and two backs on the second day.  Runnerup champion,  Yankie's Ginnie Girl, a setter female owned and handled by Frank, had a slow but good start on the first day with one find and two backs, then really got going on the second day with four finds and two unproductives.

According to the kind folks who called and emailed with results and reports from the grounds, the dogs ran in some very heavy cover, making birds hard to point and, in return, very hard to flush.

One report in particular from Dean Conklin and Frank Skut described judge Tommy Stargell getting off his horse while Ginnie was pointing in heavy brush, and getting down on his hands and knees himself looking for the bird. While Frank pulled some of the heavier cover away, Ginnie stood staunchly, and Tommy eventually found the quail for the setter. Now that's teamwork!

RU Ch. Yankie's Ginnie Girl remains composed while Judge Tommy Stargell gets on his knees to look for the bird.  Handler Frank Skut pulls away some of the heavier cover.

Bill and Frank, who train together regularly, made the 12-plus-hour drive from New England to the Dick Cross WMA with their two best birddogs, Jack and Ginnie. But they weren't the only New Englanders in town. Hosting a number of field trialers in their new bed and breakfast facilities were George Doyle and Jay Shippole of Plymouth, Mass., now of South Hill, Va. George also scouted for Bill during the trial. Fixing fences and helping out all-around was Pat Casey, long a resident of South Hill, but a native of Cohasset, Mass.

An honorary New Englander was there also, Claudia McNamee of Waccabuc, NY, who ran her pointer, Richfield Stella. Claudia competes in so many New England trials that we think of her as one of our own!

Claudia McNamee and Richfield Stella.

Also, the breeder of both the winner, Fox Cobble Jack, and of Richfield Stella, is a New England guy, Richard Giuliano, of Hope, RI. How's that for keeping it in the New England family?!

The New Englanders couldn't say enough nice things about their Southern counterparts, their bracemates, the judges, their hosts, basically everyone involved in the trial. While trials up North often tend to be life-or-death events for many involved, it seems those folks down South have a better grasp of keeping trials in perspective and mixing good times with good birdwork.

For more pictures and a brace-by-brace report, click here to go to the U.S. Complete website. (And many thanks to Yvonne McKeag for the use of the U.S. Complete's pictures!)