2018 National Champion; Lester's Sunny Hill Jo
By: William Smith
Yogi Berra once said “It's Déjà Vu all over again,” and that phrase certainly relates to the 2018 National Champion, Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo. Jo accomplished what only five other dogs have achieved in the history of the National Championship when he was named National Champion for the second consecutive year. Jo is a beautiful example of what defines class in a bird dog. When on game he stands the highest that his frame will allow with head and tail also at their maximum height. The only things moving are his nostrils as he soaks in the scent of his quarry. His muscles bulge under his tight skin as he anticipates the explosion to come. His demeanor never changes—he is intense and focused. He could be photo shopped on each of his finds because his style is always the same— exceptional.
The white, orange, and ticked pointer is in the third year of his all-age competition. He is a big dog weighing between 50 and 60 pounds, but there is something else that is big about him also. He has a big heart. He could not have run in the conditions he ran in without a heart that compelled him to keep going in spite of the temperature in the 70’s and the ankle deep mud and standing water he encountered with almost every step. It takes a big “want to” to endure for three hours in that environment.
It was also déjà vu again because Jo ran on the afternoon course, the same as last year and he also ran in 70 degree heat last year. His find count, however, was not the same. He was credited with seven finds last year and he upped that total this year to nine. As reported in the description of his performance in brace 12, he set the record for the quickest time to record a find at 20 seconds. He had four finds the first hour. A find, an unproductive stand, his only blemish, and a back of his brace mate in the second hour and four finds in his last hour. Going up Cox’s Ridge in the last hour he was like the ball in a pinball machine as he ricocheted off the first of his three finds in a six minute span.
The breeding of Chris George’s bitch, Miller’s White Wall, a daughter of Lester’s Snowatch, the 2009 Nation Champion, to Ransom produced Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo’s litter. Gary Lester acquired Jo when he was a youngster from a very good friend. The friend had purchased Jo and believed he had the potential to be a champion and made the arrangements for Jo to go to Gary. Gary knew he had something special in Jo. Jo’s two qualifying wins were a year apart but Gary knew that Jo would eventually qualify. He not only qualified by winning the Alabama Championship only two days before the start of the National last year, he won the title the first year he competed in the National. He is now 2 for 2, a figure Yogi Bera would approve of. Co-owner David Thompson is also 2 for 2 thanks to Jo. It is a very difficult thing to defend the title of National Champion. Time will tell if Jo will be the first ever to capture the crown three consecutive years.