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Many thanks again to Elizabeth Woolterton and Skinners Pet Food for sponsoring the North West Open Trial 2012.  North West Trial got off to a bad start, with heavy rain causing lots of accidents on the motorways, making tracklayers late getting caught up in the traffic jams all around the area; it also made some competitors late for their report times.  It’s a good job we had Kim Astbury on hand to lay the first five tracks - Kim did a great job laying all the early tracks, getting up at 5am on all five days.  Soon after the reports were due the phone started to ring and never seemed to stop; it just seemed to be one thing after another.  I suppose I came to expect it to run smoothly, after the last few years when we had lots of land available.  This year the landowners have ploughed a lot of their  land up, in fact enough for eleven tracks, and that, coupled with a lot of land waterlogged, left land at a premium. 

The judges set their tests that were well within the capabilities, but for whatever reason it just did not happen for a lot of the dogs.  Given the conditions I think – NO, I know - my teams did a GREAT job in the bad weather.  And when people are getting up at 5am to lay tracks for nothing so that you, the competitor, can  enjoy this great sport I would expect you to thank them regardless of the outcome, whether you get around or not, but seemingly some people think if they fail its always someone else’s fault if they don’t get success.  Anyway, gripe over.

I would like to thank everyone who helped at the trial, no matter how small a role they played.  And to the competitors who braved the conditions to get to the North West Trial - thank you.



Stake: CD


Steward: Barbara Bell

There were 8 competitors, with all dogs qualifying in the nosework section.  Heelwork, recalls and sendaways were done very well by nearly all the competitors, with stays and jumps causing most of the problems.  Five dogs did the sit stay and three the down (A Fox withdrew his dog because it was unsettled by repetitive gunfire in the distance).  Three dogs qualified on the jumps, and the hard luck story was Mark Gardner, who qualified in all sections but with not enough overall.

1st           Mrs Elinor Anderson, LITTLE TONIC FOR MYRTILLAS, Cross, 89.5, Q

2nd         Miss Valerie Joughin, ROYAL MERLE OF CLAUGHTON, BC, 74, NQ

3rd          Mr Mark Gardner, SCHAISLA MIDNIGHT CHARM BEST, GSD, 73.5, NQ

4th          Jessica Storm, RIGG THE PIG, Cross, 62, NQ




Tracklayers: Gail Gwesyn-Pryce, Chris Davies, Dave Stretch, Arthur Ball and Martyn Willcock

Steward: Gill Armstrong

Thanks to the NWWTS for asking me to judge this stake; Gill and I enjoyed doing it and we had reasonably kind weather. Thanks go to Pam in the kitchen and all the people that she gets to help put food and drinks in front of you at every opportunity.  Thanks to Judith at base, and Hazel who is always there to help everybody.  To Ray, our trials manager (who definitely went slightly greyer during this trial!), for all the assistance he gives to one and all, and for managing to keep everything together under very difficult conditions.  Thank you to all the tracklayers, Gail Gwesyn-Pryce, Chris Davies, Dave Stretch, Arthur Ball and Martyn Willcock, also to Sue Ashley and Terry Austin for helping with the gate during stays.  My main thanks go to Gill for stewarding with me, also for all the work she puts in before and during the trial.

There were 28 entries, 20 handlers and dogs worked, with 8 qualifiers.

1st Phil Talbot with TRACELYN NEIL DIAMOND, GSD, 194, Q.  What a lovely round by Hugo and Phil, who, I am sure, will move through very quickly if they continue to work together like this.

2nd Shirley Simpson with WESTMIDS KYRE, GSD, 189, Q.  There were two dogs on this score; Shirley and Lynx were awarded 2nd place as we were unable to do a runoff.  Lynx was another GSD that worked very neatly - well done.

3rd Sue Jones with DURSTONE BRYN, WSD, 189, Q.  It was a pleasure to watch you both work - congratulations.

4th Emily Arch with JASPER THE COWPE CRUSADER, WSD, 186.5, Q.  A good steady round which got you a place as well as your qualification, I am sure you were pleased with him, Emily.

Also qualified:

Dave Craven with QUIZ-IS SOMETHING SPECIAL, 165.5

Julz Findeisen with BANDAITCH DIRTY HARRY, 183

Kevin Johnson with VOMKYNA ECHO, 185.5

Fran Lucas with POLLGINA MILLBURN MAX, 185 - they also won the Trophy for the Best Gundog at the trial.

Thanks to all the competitors; you were a great bunch of people and I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

On a personal note I would like to thank Kim Astbury, who not only is Secretary, but a very good tracklayer and spent the majority of the trial out in the fields, laying track after track as we were losing them one after another.  Good on you, Kim.




Tracklayers: Kim Astbury, Jenny Holt, Dave Bell, David Stretch

Square steward: Diane Higgins

Caller stewards: Jenny Holt, Chris Davis.

My thanks to Ray Lea and the NWWTS committee for this invitation to judge.  This is a great society with many willing helpers, who always seem to be around and ready to assist with any task even before being asked.  Thanks to Judith Stamp and Hazel Holt for keeping things organised at base, Martyn Willcock and Jackie Hope for escorting and Pam Wadsworth and her merry gang of kitchen helpers who worked hard to put weight on me this week!

Ray did an excellent job as trials manager – not an easy task with cows on tracks, flooding affecting the arrival times of helpers and competitors, gale force winds and falling trees!  My thanks go to my tracklayers, who were all diligent and meticulous in providing tracks that gave competitors the best possible chance of success in spite of the horrendous weather conditions – only to retrace their steps to recover the majority of articles!  The Gold Star Award went to Kim Astbury, who was up at 5am all 5 days to lay the early tracks and laid the majority of tracks and covered when the weather conditions delayed others from getting to the trial.  Kim – thank you!

I set what I thought would be any easy test with the track articles selected to be rewards for dogs who may be having their first attempt at a three hour competition track, and square articles that would not be out of place in a CD.  However, the mixture of torrential rain and gale force winds made most articles elusive to most dogs.

Out of 37 entries 32 dogs worked and only one dog qualified overall.  Thank you to all the competitors who turned up to battle the elements and took their failure in good spirit – it was soul destroying for my tracklayers, steward (and me), who stood there 5 days willing competitors to get round.  You were great – all except one ignorant man who could not accept his own failure and tried to blame it on other people.  He would do well to learn to read his dog - it started off well but was distracted from tracking, lifted its head and tail to go sniffing along the hedge-line and he followed it!  Many people work very hard to provide a TD track for you and rudeness is not well accepted in the trials community.

On a brighter note, my eleven week old puppy would like to thank everyone who fed and cared for him whilst his proper Mummy (me) neglected him for 5 days!  He started the week being timid and shy of people and by the end of the week was mugging all and sundry in the base begging for food!  Thank you all so much for helping to socialise Minstrel, he now wears his NWWTS badge with pride.

On to the results - there was only one qualifier in the nosework section, fortunately this dog went on to qualify overall and to win the stake.  Only nine dogs got over 50% of track marks so if that was you – well done.  Only 3 dogs got 4 out of the square but these were dogs who had not got round the track.  Many competitors whose dogs had not qualified the nosework, left without attempting the C/A (understandably in such bad weather conditions).  We did rush to get everything done in the few daylight hours available and in fact did end up working in moonlight!  That said, I was treated to a full point C/A round from John Simpson and I did witness many dogs displaying great attitude and determination to track, when in reality all scent had been eradicated from the field.  I was sorry to have to call ‘Thank you’.

1st Rosemary Smyth and BEELAHOLT KEZZY BEAST, WSD, D, 187.5, CoM and Best Track Trophy.  Many congratulations on a well-deserved win in these conditions.  KEZ just kept at it and got round the track with all three articles well done!  He then went on to get 2 out of the square, did a very creditable C/A and topped it all with full point agility.  Thank you - you made my week!

2nd Terry Austin and MANPOL VIXEN, GSD, B, owned by C.C. Manchester Police, NQ.  ZAZZ worked a very accurate track but unfortunately did not stop for the articles.  I know you were disappointed, Terry, but she really did a superb track; in any other conditions I am sure she will excel.  It was just not meant to be this week.

3rd Julz Findeisen and GUNNIWENS ARRIVA-LA-DIVA, GSD, B, owned by Carole Hall, NQ.  DIVA struggled at the beginning of the track, but then got into it and tracked right over a cross track (provided ten minutes earlier by a walker) with complete confidence.  What a brilliant tracking dog!  Well done, Julz – what a pity she only got one out of the square.  I am sure she will do well in the future.

4th Eleanor Mestraud and WOLFHART CRY HAVOC, GSD, B, NQ.  Like many others, PURDEY did not get round the track today, but stayed to complete the other sections and take this place.  Many congratulations, Eleanor.

Judge’s bloomer - said to competitor about to track, "There are three articles out there, give me a ring when you find them!"

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