The 2014 IKC Retriever Championship was held in Coolattin Estate on the 28th and 29th of December 2014 by kind permission of the Dowling family. The shoot in Coolattin Estate has been managed by Fiach and Ann Dowling since it began over 17 years ago and is renowned throughout Europe for its quality high birds and beautiful setting.
In his welcome address Mr Dowling expressed great pride in hosting this event again and ensured us that, as with previous years, it was going to be an exciting few days for all involved. The guns on the 28th were members of the Coolattin Estate Syndicate, some of whom have been members since the very beginning and on Monday 29th the guns comprised of friends of the Dowling family. Mr Dowling extended a warm welcome to everyone and promised to provide the competitors, organisers and supporters of the Irish Kennel Club Retriever Championship an exciting and enjoyable few days.
Once again the main sponsor for this annual event is Connolly’s RED MILLS Engage premium country dog food. We are deeply indebted to them for their generous and continued support. Not only do Connolly’s RED MILLS sponsor the IKC Retriever Championship but they sponsor many Field Trials and Working Tests for retriever clubs throughout the country.
RED MILLS premium dog foods are widely used by successful handlers. The winner of this year’s IKC Championship along with the majority of the prize-winners feed RED MILLS. Proving beyond doubt that RED MILLS is indeed the real deal for dog owners who want success in the field. This is the food to use, if you want to “Stay Ahead of the Game”.
The task of finding the “Irish Retriever Champion 2014” fell to this very experienced team of Judges.
Mr Michael Fleville, who has been involved in trialling for over 30 years and in this time has successfully made up four Field Trial Champions. He has been an IKC A panel judge for many years. He qualified several times for the IKC Retriever Championship and also qualified to run in the UK Retriever Championship with his Labrador bitch Glenbriar Brook. He looked forward, with great pleasure, to judging this year’s Championship.
Mr David Boyce, who ran in his first trial in 2004, has made up three Field Trial Champion Bitches, was awarded joint Retriever of the Year in 2012 and was placed second in 2013 Championship. He considered it a great honour to have been chosen to judge this year’s Championship and wished all the competitors the very best of luck.
Mr Allan Schoffield, who has been trialling since 1990, has made up five Field Trial Champions two of which are still running. He has competed in the UK Retriever Championship more than ten times and was awarded Diplomas on two occasions. He has been an A panel judge since 2006.
Mr Rodger Phillips, has been an A panel Judge for 15 years and judged the IGL Retriever Championships in 2011. He has made up three Field Trial Champions. Rodger was delighted and honoured to be invited to judge this year’s IKC Championship and wished all the competitors the very best of luck.
Throughout the year 42 dogs qualified to run in this year’s IKC Championship with 35 going to post. The line-up comprised of 33 Labradors and 2 Golden Retrievers, 29 Dogs and only 6 Bitches. The weather was perfect with ground frost, clear blue skies and a slight breeze.
On the first morning competitors made their way in convoy from the headquarters to the beautiful grounds of Coolattin Estate where they gathered at the RED MILLS tent for their official photograph, taken by Jana Scupakova. Armbands and programmes were then distributed by the chief steward Mr Paul Mc Guirk.
In her introduction Lady Waterford welcomed everyone to the estate and thanked the Dowling Family for hosting this event once again. She wished all the competitors the very best of luck before handing over to Mr Fiach Dowling. Mr Dowling introduced the team of guns for the first day and expressed his delight at being involved with the IKC Retriever Championships. He welcomed everyone back for yet another Championship and hoped they would enjoy the two days. Mr Harry Gillanders, Vice Chairman of the IKC Retriever Championship committee announced the Judges pairings and the running order of the dogs for the first day. He wished everyone a successful and enjoyable time.
The drives for the IKC Championship had been arranged in advance between the shoot management and members of the committee. The first drive was “Browns” this drive always produces spectacular birds and today was no exception. As the handlers lined out, either side of a large stubble field, they were treated to a fine display of towering pheasants which were testing the experienced syndicate members. As for the dogs and handlers this was a very demanding test of steadiness and there was an audible sigh of relief from the handlers as the horn sounded for the end of the first drive.
The Judges on the right Rodger and David had positioned themselves with a sheep wire fence between the line of dogs and the falling birds which set the scene nicely for some spectacular retrieving over the fence and down into the cover beside the wood.
On the left under judges Michael and Allan the uneven numbers were well and truly tested on some very good long distance retrieves from the stubble. In some cases, on both sides of the line, the temptation to err was strong and some dogs succumbed to small errors but such is the standard expected for this premier event that small errors can be costly and for them the show was over for another year.
After some delightful work the judges decided to move to the next drive “Levingstones” with 24 dogs making it through to this drive. At this point the picking up team moved in to sweep the area for all remaining birds.
At Levingston’s the birds flew magnificently and the guns shot superbly. Both lines, odds and evens, lined up on the same side of the field just inside the edge of the wood. With birds crashing through the canopy of the large trees the degree of temptation was at an even higher level than before and we subsequently lost five dogs in this line up.
There was some perfect dog work at both Browns and Levingstones which was befitting the IKC Championships. Last year’s winner Mr Sean Nolan with Int FTCh Tweedshot Trimble of Lettergreen was showing just why he came out on top last year in Ballynatray. Stride for stride with him was Mr Leigh Jackson with GB FTCh Elijas Danny who qualified by winning the UK Championship in 2013. Mr Declan Boyle’s very young FTCh Miller Mc Duff was keeping pace with the best as was Mr Mattie Lambden with Petiswood Price of Tamrose,
Mr Donal Donohue with Georgias Holystone Hope, Mr John Behan with FTCh Quarrypool Rough Diamond, Mr Paul O Brien with FTCh Corrib Warwick. The following were still very much in contention, Mr Nigel Carville with FTCh Apollobay Apoclypse of Astraglen , Mr Gerard Murdock with Dunamoira Gene , Mr Jim Carnegie with Rosenalis Enzo, Mr Tony O Hare with FTCh Tyrrellison Star Dreamer, Mr Ian Davies with FTCh Glenanne Pi, Mr Paul Toal with FTCh Altiquin Ripple, Mr Willie Higginson with Simply Blue , Mr John Barr (Jnr) with Willowmount Regal Rose and Mr Winston Kelly who was handling Mr Stephen Mc Kelvey’s Glenloch Stafford.
The first day finished with some excellent retrieving from high on Levingstons hill down into the wood below. The 16 dogs remaining performed extremely well and all 16 were duly called back to the second day.
Day two began bright and frosty and when the final sixteen competitors had their photos taken, the running order for the second day was announced. Mr Dowling introduced his team of guns for the second day which included some close family friends including Mr Bill Connolly, COO of RED MILLS. At this stage the Chairman reminded the guns that they had “a job to do” in selecting the dog who would receive the Guns Choice Trophy. This trophy “The Irish Country Sports and Country Life Perpetual Trophy” is very kindly donated by Mr Albert Titterington and is presented to the handler of their chosen dog.
We moved off to the first drive of the day which is called “Wafers Hill”. Mr Dowling had promised that this drive would present some brilliant birds, over some rough grass and ground cover, and should enable the judges to set up some challenging retrieves. This was indeed the case and spectators had a great view of these retrieves. Initially the dogs were sent for birds that had fallen into dense rushes and long grass, followed by some long distance retrieves over a fence and into long grass to retrieve the birds, the judges being very specific, at all times, as to which bird they wanted.
Following a further three rounds of retrieving the number of competitors was reduced from 16 to six. As usual there was much speculation as to who was ahead, but it was clear at this stage that it was a very close contest between the remaining six dogs.
We moved to the last drive of the IKC Championship which was a duck drive. The six remaining dogs lined up at the edge of a large pond where ducks were driven over in large numbers. This must have been something close to torture for the remaining handlers. It would be heart-breaking at this stage of the competition for any handler to meet misfortune slip up stumble and crash out. Thankfully there was no such drama and all six performed their retrieves as expected.
At this point the Judges announced the competition was over. With smiles of joy and relief the handlers congratulated each other on having made it to the end.
The presentation took place in the shooting lodge on the estate. While the handlers and spectators were waiting for the prize giving to get underway they were very treated to soup and sandwiches kindly supplied by Una, Ann and Evelyn Dowling.
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the presentation of prizes and congratulated the finishing handlers on their achievement. A presentation was made by Lady Waterford to Mr Fiach Dowling and Mr Dowling addressed the gathering expressing his delight at being involved with this event yet again. He hoped that everyone present had enjoyed the two days and complimented the committee on a job well done.
Lady Waterford also made a presentation to Mr Bill Connolly.
Mr Connolly, in his address expressed his sincere thanks to all his customers. He said how much he had enjoyed being present at the IKC Championships this year and getting to view the dogs at work. He was also delighted to be involved in selecting the dog who was to win the Guns Choice Trophy. He praised the keeper and staff at Coolattin and said how much he always enjoys shooting here. At this point the Chairman announced the winner of the guns choice trophy and Mr Connolly presented it to No. 40 Mr Donal Donohue and Georgias Hollystone Hope.
Mr Rodger Phillips (Judge) spoke highly of the competitors and in particular of the prize-winners. He thanked the host, sponsors and all involved in the organising and running of the IKC Championships.
The Chairman paid tribute to all involved with The Coolattin Shoot and thanked them for their help, during the months, leading up to the IKC Championships and for their hospitality over the two days. He expressed sincere thanks to everyone who volunteered and helped out in any way, stewards, markers, number boards, game carriers, photographer, reporters etc. and said how much an event like this depends so much on the backstage help.
He finished by thanking Mr Declan Boyle, Secretary, Lady Waterford, Treasurer and the entire IKC Championship committee for their hard work, support and co-operation throughout the year.
The following are the result of the 2014 Irish Kennel Club Retriever Championship:
1st. Mr Donal Donohue’s Lab D “Georgias Hollystone Hope”
Sire: Broadlaw Buck Dam: Kindley Express of Cragburn
2nd Mr Leigh Jackson’s Lab D “FTCh Ellijas Danny”
Sire: FTCh Kenmillto Remus Dam: Hillus Widgeon
3rd Mr Mattie Lambden’s Lab D “Petitswood Prince of Tamrose”
Sire: FTCh Willowmount Ricky Dam: FTCh Kilmona Jodi
4th Mr Paul O Brien’s Lab D “Corrib Warwick”
Sire: Lovely Jackson of Corrib Dam: Rahaline Nightjar of Corrib
C.O.M. Mr Nigel Carvill’s Lab D “Appolobay Apoclypse of Astraglen”
Sire: FTCh Waterford Fergus Dam: Shimavale Delta
C.O.M. Mr John Behan’s Lab D “FTCh Quarrypool Rough Diamond”
Sire: FTCh Myreton Diablo of Glenloch Dam: Kenmilfore Beca
Report by: Michael Corr
Photos by: Jana Scupokova