Friday, October 24, 2014

Region 1 Horseback Championship Report

Front, from left, judges Keith Cagle and Harold Ray, with trainer George Tracy. Rear, from left, Gene Casale Jr., Richard Giuliano, John Stolgitis, Aidan Malone, winning handler Elias Richardson, Earl Drew, Erin Stolgitis with Champion Chasehill Little Bud,  Stacey Goodie, John Malone, Alan Linder, runnerup handler Alex Smith with Calico's Touch of Class, Mary Tracy, Brian Sanchez, Pete Labella, Margaret Drew, John Fino, Maureen Joyce, Janice Gregory, Aimee Atkins and Kevin Joyce.



Runnerup is Calico's Touch of Class

EAST WINDSOR, Conn. -- When Field Trial Hall of Famer Harold Ray, who’s raised, handled and judged more field trial dogs than most folks can shake a stick at, is judging a championship and says your dog was “exciting” to watch, you know you done good.

Ray was talking about Chasehill Little Bud, a pointer male, whom he and judge Keith Cagle, had just named champion at the 2014 Region 1/AFTCA Amateur Horseback Championship held Oct. 18-19 at Flaherty Field Trial Area.

Bud, both a multiple champion and runner-up champion, and no doubt a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame himself, is owned and trained by John Stolgitis of Ashaway, R.I. Stolgitis runs Bud on the Open circuit on foot, in the grouse woods, and on horseback. On the Amateur circuit, Bud has his own personal team. He is handled by Elias Richardson III of Uxbridge, Mass., and scouted by John Malone, of Bolton, Conn. And it is that team, with Richardson on the whistle and Malone deftly scouting, that guided Bud to this, his latest win, and his 19th championship.

With this championship, Bud completes a field trial hat-trick. In years past, he has also won the Region 1/AFTCA Amateur Walking Championship and the Region 1/AFTCA Amateur All-Age Championship. To top it off, Bud is only a few months away from his 10th birthday. And, as his owner says, “To watch him compete against this field of great dogs at that age shows the heart that Bud has.”

Calico's Touch of Class
Runner-up champion was Calico’s Touch of Class (“Jet”), a pointer female, owned by Pete DelCollo, Dale Hernden and Calico Kennels, of Jetersville, Va., and handled by Alex Smith of Hamburg, N.J.

Jet, a beautiful 4-year-old, is having a heck of a fall season herself, earning this runner-up championship only days after competing in and winning the Northeastern Open Shooting Dog Championship on the same grounds. Alex Smith is not only celebrating Jet’s Region 1 runner-up win, but his own -- it’s his first-ever championship placement.


The judges were looking for dogs that would run to the front and hunt the cover. From a field of 30 competitors, the largest entry for this Region 1 championship in several years, they found their winner in Chasehill Little Bud.

The gallery heads out toward the powerlines.
 (Photo by Jim Hathaway)

Bud had nine finds in dug-up places where no other dogs had had birdwork. He exhibited class, drive and skill, said Ray, and gave as an example one of Bud’s casts on a route that no other dog had taken. Bud grabbed the right-hand edge along the powerlines and took it all the way back to the pines at the end of the Dearborn Property where he had a quail find. Shot were fired, all was in order and he was taken on. To nicely wrap up this package, Bud powered back down the opposite side of the big field until he stopped to point a pheasant. Along with quail, 20 pheasants had been released for this trial and they proved to be the undoing for many a dog, but not Bud. He was nonplussed by this bird, handling it with perfect manners, being steady to both wing and shot.

In another epic find, scout Malone would dig up Bud past the water hole, deep in the woods to the left. “The bird [handler Richardson] was looking for was a pheasant,” said Ray, “but he stepped in there and birds were on a roost. About 30 [quail] blew out. I mean it was exciting!”

Ray remarked as to how Bud was always hunting, not bee-lining from feeder to feeder but looking beyond the coverline and the woodline. That’s where he would go and he’d inevitably wind up pointing a bird in those places.

Touch of Class had seven finds for herself and was always to the front. Said Ray, “She would grab the roads from Point A to B to go into a lot of places -- about three times very distinctly.” But everything about her birdwork was immaculate. “She had a lot of style on point and she’d be out there for a long distance,” he said.


Thirty dogs were entered in the two-day stake, yet only five, including the winners, would make it through their whole hour. Pheasants often proved their undoing. Some dogs got lost. Others were picked up either by handler or judge for a variety of infractions. The majority of dogs were not on the ground for very long.

Alex Smith gets ready to run. (Photo by Jim Hathaway)

In the first brace, Dry Creek Nitrogen, a pointer male, bred, owned, trained and handled by George Doyle of Union Level, Va., managed to get around for 60 minutes and had one find but a very short race. It was a good effort for a young dog still learning the ropes.

Stacey Goodie and Alex Smith get their dogs to the line.
(Photo by Jim Hathaway)

Another that went the whole hour was Great River Class, a pointer male owned and handled by Brian Sanchez of Central Islip, N.Y. Class ran in the fourth brace and had nine good finds, but a penchant for running the roads did her in.

Aidan Malone gets ready to let loose Southbound Strech
 for handler John Fino. (Photo by Jim Hathaway)

In the sixth brace, Jetsettin’ Jenny, a pointer female owned and handled by Joe Lordi, gave it a shot. She had six finds and one unproductive but didn’t really get going until the end. Handler didn’t have her at pickup time and her late-hour absence hurt her chances.

Tim Cavanaugh, Hog Hill Katie, and judge Harold Ray.

The heartbreaker of the weekend was Hog Hill Katie, a pointer female owned, trained and handled by Tim Cavanaugh of East Hampton, Conn. Running in the seventh brace, Katie was catching the judges eyes, cruising along, running to the front, hunting the woods, having find after find. There comes a point, through, when you know you’ve had enough finds and are just praying to finish the hour. Unfortunately, with a few scant minutes left in her hour, Katie came upon one bird too many and it proved too much for her. She took a jump and was ordered up. A good effort, though, by another young dog.

Judge Harold Ray watches a flushing attempt. (Photo by Jim Hathaway)


A cocktail party in honor of last year’s Region 1 winner, Sugar Knoll War Paint, owned by Pete and Chris DelCollo and Allen Linder, was hosted by John Stolgitis. As usual, a plethora of food was available. Platter after platter of raw clams and clams casino were passed around, along with homemade fish chowder, homemade soppressata, pickled beets and a variety of crackers and cheese. John is right at home in the kitchen and with his wife, Jill, helping, the cocktail party hit just the right spot after a day of running dogs. 

Stacey Goodie and Alex Smith head out with another brace. (Photo by Jim Hathaway)

     Region 1 is fortunate to have many members who step up to the plate and help with these events. Dave O’Brien was instrumental in getting the championship up and running each day. He’d take occasional breaks to plant birds, run his own dogs and scout. Stacey Goodie spent the entire two days on horseback, either running her own dogs, or scouting, or planting birds. Region 1 president Richard Giuliano was anywhere and everywhere -- taking entries, shepherding handlers to the line, planting birds. John and Aidan Malone were on hand to help with scouting duties, and Sue Malone helped out greatly with the cooking Saturday night. Other Region 1 members were also on hand, often stepping in to help without needing to be asked, and their help is appreciated.

     Region 1 couldn’t have run this championship, or any of the others this fall, without help from the professionals. Smooth, reliable horses for judges were provided by George Tracy and Pat Casey. John Stolgitis did the lion’s share of the cooking, and the three were always on hand to offer support and words of encouragement to the amateurs. A big, big thank-you to this trio!

     Many thanks, also, to Purina for their continued sponsorship of this event.   

      In an effort to change things up, maximize entries and make some New England championship events more available to amateurs by holding them on weekends, Region 1 and ANEFTC president Richard Giuliano shook up the order of fall events. This year, the Northeastern championship and Futurity were bookended by the New England Open at Pomfret, Conn., on Columbus Day weekend, and the Region 1 Horseback Championship at Flaherty the following weekend of Oct. 18-19. It worked. The number of entries for both the New England Open and Region 1 Championship were up, more amateurs attended, and hopes are that next year there’ll be even more folks joining in to enjoy these spectacular fall events.

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