2018 IGL Championship

15 December 2018

Pernice Press was very pleased to co-sponsor the IGL’s 2018 Retriever Championship, which took place at Packington Hall, West Midlands, on the 3rd, 4th and 5th December. The Steward of the Beat, Head Keeper Les McLean, and his team along with the guns provided great sport, with a steady flow of game and challenging retrieves in varied terrain, including roots, bracken, woodland and water.  

Judges Jim Gale, Mark Bettinson, Les McLean and Barry Taylor also provided the experience and expertise needed to adequately test and manage 59 entries over the three days. Labradors dominated the field of 40 dogs and 19 bitches, with two Golden Retrievers running. Many of the handlers were previous Championship qualifiers; John Halsted distinguished himself by qualifying 5 dogs, three of whom survived to feature in the awards. 

There were also a number of new handlers running their first Championship, including Sarah Miles, Ronnie Laughton, Julia Redpath, Lorna Sanaghan, Keith Bianchi, Nigel Probert, Tom Lowe, Roger Wade, Harry Gillanders, Kieron Coey and Katherine Impey. 

The gallery witnessed consistent work and many notable retrieves over the three days. David Field’s home-bred Labrador FTCh Artistryn Ulrich picked a running partridge on the first day and maintained a high level of work throughout the competition. Annette Clark, handling Richard Hinks’ FTCh Castlemans Gobi of Garronpoint, also worked consistently well under pressure, and was the only female handler to make it through to the final round and awards. 

The retrieve that defined this Championship happened on the third day, which began with a walk up in misty conditions that made it difficult for handlers and their dogs to mark birds as they fell. Billy Steel’s FTCh Harperrig Breac was sent for a wing-tipped cock bird that landed about 100 yards in front of the line; he hunted the fall area thoroughly before taking a line another 40 yards up the hill, where the bird was glimpsed briefly before disappearing over the brow and into bracken. After less than a minute Breac reappeared to deliver the wounded bird to his handler, accompanied by well-merited applause.

With this win he joins an elite group of nine handlers who over the past century have won the Championship three or more times. After qualifying for his first Championship in 1993, he won just three years later in 1996 with Mrs Reid’s FTCh Linksview Jet and again in 2000 with Mrs Reid’s FTCh Bracken of Berrybrae, while placing second in 1995.

Photo: Winners Billy Steel and FTCh Harperrig Breac (courtesy IGL)

For more information and full results go to https://igl.org.uk/championship/general-information