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The Kennel Club Field Trials in Northern Ireland
Open Stake for Any Variety Spaniel
by Victor McDevitt

The Kennel Clubs’ Open Stake for Any Variety Spaniel was held in Northern Ireland, off the coast of Co Down on the 29th of November (2002). The Kennel Club has been holding this prestigious field trial in Northern Ireland for twenty years now, returning every four to five years. Mountstewart, Necarne, Montalto - and for the last two visits "The Island" - have all provided excellent ground, game and guns to test the quality of our spaniels. This year was no exception. The Island, under host John Agnews’ knowledgeable and experienced hand, provided one of the best days trialing that we have witnessed for some time. John has generously hosted many trials for Spaniels and Retrievers, including this year one under Irish Kennel Club Rules for Hunt Point and Retrieve breeds, so he knows how to provide exactly what is needed to suit the occasion. His right hand man, Frankie Martin, was Steward of the Beat - himself a successful competitor in days gone by. He started us off in rush and grass then led us across the Island to the bracken on the fore shore where the tide rippled across sandy beaches and rocky spits.

The Official party included: Rosemary Hall - K C Field Trial Secretary, Debbie Deucher - K C Association Secretary, along with Judges Ian Openshaw and Roger Tozer. The Judges Stewards were Willie Milligan and Steven Nichol. Guest guns led by John Agnew were Jim Blair with Andrew Tuxworth and Mick Annakin - both of whom are from Lincolnshire, all top drawer shots specially picked for the event.

The stake limited to eighteen dogs, had attracted a good entry including cross channel dogs.

As we started off in the rushes and white grass, rabbits, pheasants and partridge were lying in wait for the unwary. However, good shooting marred by failed retrieves, pegging, and passing put paid to the ambitions of some handlers, of which I deservedly was one.

The sun sparkled on the sea and spirits were high as we turned along the low side of the high precipitous bank, which

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