2018 National Championship Halftime Report
By: Steeple Bell
Keeping the long held tradition, there will be no dogs running on Sundays at the Ames Plantation. So with this break in the action, we will review this past week’s performances.
So far we have seen one brace of dogs who were both called "Bo" and another brace where the two owners were both named Hamilton (they are not related). But it is not such trivial coincidences that will determine this years winner.
The weather has not been cooperative, and two half-days have been lost so far to rain. The courses are muddy now and next week's forecast does not promise much of a change.
Five of the twenty contestants who have already run have finished their three hours. Four on the morning course and one from the afternoon course, and accordingly the bird score for the morning course is higher. Twenty-three finds under judgement for the morning course versus eleven for the afternoon.
The five who have completed a three hour run are:
Mega Blackhawk's Progeny from the first brace on the morning course with 4 finds and a fifth point where the flight of birds was not seen under judgement. This is the second year that Hawk has drawn the first brace.
Erin's Redrum from the second brace on the afternoon course with 2 finds on his own, plus another that was divided, two backs, and an unproductive.
Dominator's Rebel Heir from the third brace on the morning course with 3 finds and two unproductives.
Coldwater Thunder from the sixth brace with 5 finds and a sixth where the flight of birds was not seen under judgement.
Whippoorwill Justified from the eighth brace on the morning course with 4 finds of his own plus another that was divided.
A reminder that the bird score is not what ultimately determines who wins. Last year there were two dogs who found more birds than the dog who was named the winner. The judges are looking for many things under the Amesian Standard and any single piece of birdwork may be what makes their decision.
It is also time to give a hearty thank you to all of the sponsors of this trial:
At the top of the list is Nestle-Purina company, the "official" dog food sponsor for the championship. Purina makes a monetary contribution to help with the expenses of this championship. They sponsor the Kick-Off dinner held at the Bird Dog Museum the night before the trial begins, and were well represented by several of their managers and consultants; Karl Gunzer, Greg Blair, Bob West, and Jim Smith. They also sponsor the Annual Luke Meatte Memorial Fish Fry, also held at the Bird Dog Museum during the event (this past Thursday).
Purina provides a one year supply of ProPlan Performance dog food to the winner and sponsors the National Champion's portrait by the artist Ross B. Young. All of the other handlers receive sample food, and they along with the owners and club officials receive the annual souvenir caps.
Garmin International provides the four tracking units that are used during the competition and will award an additional three Astro 430 receivers and T-5 collars, one each for the owner, handler, and scout of the winning dog. The winning handler will also receive a Tri-Tronics Pro 550 remote trainer and a Bark Limiter Deluxe. Garmin also participates in the hosting of the dinners at the Bird Dog Museum.
The Bank Of Fayette County provides an additional $2000 cash supplement to the winning handler each year.
The Sportsman's Pride Pet Food company also provides a monetary contribution for the trial's expenses. They will host the "Everyone's Invited" Brunswick Stew dinner on Monday night, and you can expect to see their representatives Royal Witcher, David Brown, and Brad Kennedy. Brad is the owner of one of this year's contestants, Mega Blackhawk's Progeny. Souvenir caps and pet food samples are available at the dinner and at the Rhea Clubhouse while the supplies last. To the winning handler they provide a one year supply of their Professional 30/20 dog food.
You might notice that these souvenir caps get adorned with an annual collector's hat pin. These pins are the original design of the late Barry Saunders, and are generously provided each year by John and Susan Ivester, owners of the 2000 National Champion Marques Gold Rush.
The owner and handler of the winning dog will receive four complimentary copies of the video recordings of the trial from Pleasant Hill Productions. For the past thirty years Brad Harter has made these recordings and now this year all of the past video tape versions have been digitally re-mastered and are available again in boxed dvd sets from his website. Brad provides the daily photos and commentary for the Ames Plantation's website.
The winning handler receives a SD-1825 Sport Hunter from SportDOG brand and Gun Dog Supply. Gift certificates are also raffled out to the owners attending the drawing.
There are three trophy saddles awarded each year: a specially engraved Montreal Royal Trooper Saddle, saddle bags, breast strap, and bridle is given to the owner of the champion from Tucker Trail Saddles; the winning handler receives a Jack Haggis Trooper Saddle; and Mr. Ray Black, in memory of Dr. Douglas Guthrie, provides a Christie Enterprises Trooper's Saddle to the winner's scout.
There are numerous other sponsors that make the running of the trial go smoother each year: Spaulding Laboratories Fly Predators and Bye Bye Odor products, Hendrix Farms all-grain horse feed, Area Wide Communications two way radios for security, and Predator Management Solutions trapping for predator control.
And a host of good people step up to feed everyone each day: Catherine Bowling Dean of "Me and My Tea Room" caters the lunches at Bryan Hall, The First Baptist Church of Grand Junction provides sausage and biscuit breakfasts each morning at the Rhea Clubhouse. They get help from a batch of fine ladies and I wish I knew all their names to thank them, too.
The city officials of Bolivar, Tennessee and the Hardeman County Chamber of Commerce provided a free bbq sandwich meal to everyone who came to the drawing.
If you wish to support any of our sponsors, and we hope that you do, there are website links and phone numbers on the Ames Plantation's website.