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Last bird... hopefully just one more. Fred realized that it’s not over ‘til it’s over; he still had a job to do! In a flash, Merlin made scent on another runner. He followed his nose. Fred went with his dog, keeping the Gunners within shooting range of the flush. Merlin led them out of the cover, through a big, wet swamp, tracked through a field which was about 25ft. away from the road. With the safety of the spaniel in mind, the Judges thanked Fred for his participation, and told him that they have seen enough. They have just completed the biggest, most important trial of the year and Fred was thrilled (probably overwhelmed) with Merlin.
Fred and Merlin, 2002 NFC Creignant Merlin

Final Placements: The moment we’ve been waiting for.

Judges Jason Givens, from Wisconsin, and Ian Openshaw, from England, are ready to award the placements.

It’s been a tough but, enjoyable three day trial event, with five land series and one water series. They are both in agreement that the 1st place Cocker Spaniel is the new 2002 NFC Creignant Mordred, dog #58, Merlin, handled and trained by professional trainer, Fred Bradley from Hawthorne Kennels, Copake, New York! Paul McGagh earns the second place with Sidney. Third place is awarded to Deanbanks Maggie Kate, handler, Mike Delaney. Forth place belongs to FC Raintree Warreners Zoe, also handled by McGagh. Three "Certificates of Merits" are next awarded: Fred Bradley receives one for Freddie, one of Paul McGagh’s dogs, and Dominique Savoie’s spaniel, Morgan, are the receipitants. The official Gunners of the National Cocker Championship are asked to choose the dog that they would "most like to hunt over". This dog receives the Gunner's Award. It was a unanimous decision to name the new 2002 NFC Creignant Merlin as the recipient of the Gunner’s Award.

Fred Bradley was an extremely happy man. He aspired to that desire to be a professional handler and trainer that Ken Roebuck, Jerry Cacchio, and his wife, Alex, could be proud of! And with all of his heart he thanked Ken Roebuck!

"One of [my] best memories in trialing was a springer trial," Fred recalls, "when a dog I was handling (Sam) had, what I thought, was a great trial for conditions, cover, etc…, but, was not brought back for the third run. I was really disappointed. But when the awards were given, the Gun Team out in Western N.Y. gave him the "Guns Award" even though he only finished two series and made a point of saying he was the 'best dog on the day'."

Gunners everywhere have always enjoyed Fred’s dogs. Upon request, Fred and his dogs go to private Hunt Clubs for "Driven Birds" or "Walk-Ups", situations created for the Gunners so the birds will fly and they will be able to get a good shot. He can go out with six or more dogs of sound temperament heeling "off lead", while working on to the gun.

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