The Old Berks pull off a remarkable victory in the bitch championship, while a local doghound champion is popular at South of England, Ardingly, West Sussex. By Frank Houghton Brown and Matthew Higgs
THE bitch championship at Ardingly seemed like not only a run-off between a host of the most beautiful foxhounds in the south of England, but also the culmination of the first step towards normality. Hound show chairman Gary Lee and his wife Fee, who acts as show secretary, must have been thrilled to see all their hard work come to fruition.
North Cotswold breeding was the principle influence in the show catalogue, a good example being Stormcloud 18. The white Thurlow brood bitch winner had bags of quality and looked a shoo-in for the champion rosette. Master of the Thurlow Robin Vestey was taking a keen interest in proceedings. Their pack has been revitalised by a North Cotswold draft brought by Nigel Peel. Stormcloud’s mother was North Cotswold Story 15, by the much acclaimed Bodmin 10.
Step forward the Old Berks Deadly 19, with new huntsman Oliver Thompson and whipper-in Josh Tierney. Oliver was kennel-huntsman to the Avon Vale, but has previous experience at the Old Berks when he whipped-in to their previous long-standing and much-respected huntsman Michael Scott. Deadly had come second in the couple class, and with an attractive sandy colouring, she covered a little more ground than Stormcloud. By Dartmoor Denman 15 with a fell topline and out of a Cottesmore-bred bitch called Brasso 15, it was a pleasure to see such a scopey hound with such a different pedigree.
The two senior judges, new chairman of the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) Andrew Osborne and joint-master and huntsman of the College Valley Adam Waugh, plumped for Deadly as their champion. Adam pointed out: “These beautiful bitches were nearly inseparable.”
Some 10 packs were showing and the morning judges were again two eminent masters of hounds in Felicita Busby from the Exmoor and Richard Tyacke, director of the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles (AMHB). Hounds were brought into the ring to be shown off the lead and then taken back into the holding area in front of the kennels, where they were sorted down to the last four. These four entries were then judged in the normal way back in the hound ring; a convoluted but necessary exercise.
The unentered couple class was won by the Thurlow, with the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray in second place, both entries by North Cotswold dogs. Thurlow Joshua took the unentered championship and Chiddingfold Dresden the local championship. Prizes were well spread out, with the Crawley and Horsham, the Southdown and Eridge and the East Sussex and Romney Marsh all featuring.
The Kimblewick had some smart hounds. This time of year, their longest-standing joint-master Chris Austin is usually at the Common Ridings in Hawick, which have been going since 1513, but their cancellation allowed him to watch the hound show.
The stallion hound class stood out as being the strongest of the morning. The Surrey Union were well represented with their Ascot 18, but the honours were taken by the Old Surrey Burstow and West Kent with their Racecard 19 just beating the Thurlow with Ramsgate 19. The dog championship was quickly whittled down to a contest between the stallion hound winners and the Chiddingfold’s Redditch 20, winner earlier in the morning, and another hound by the North Cotswold’s Rallywood 16.
The beautifully balanced Racecard was announced the winner to great applause.
“He is absolutely outstanding in his work and has a great voice,” said huntsman Tim Staines, “and we are showing his dam this afternoon, who is also an outstanding hunter.”
Patrick Martin officiated in the young handler’s competition. When winner Lisa Doe, 14, was interviewed by Patrick, she confessed to enjoying all of the jobs in the Surrey Union kennels, especially skinning. Two years ago, this prize was won by Sophie Lawes, who now whips-in to the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray and who was holding hounds for their popular huntsman Sage Thompson.
The unentered bitches were dominated by the Thurlow with the lemon and white Decimal and Stamina who pipped Drastic and Drama, a slightly bigger and whiskery couple of Chiddingfold bitches, to the post. The Thurlow then proceeded to win every class with their small and active bitches. Their smart huntsman Elliot Stokes was spoilt for choice as to which hounds to bring forward for the championship and must have thought his luck was in. However, it was to be a special day for the Old Berks and their beautiful bitch Deadly.
A cool breeze made for perfect conditions and the convivial atmosphere was more akin to a puppy show than a major hound show.
SOME 10 packs of beagles, all of whom were in the ribbons, contested classes, the move from a Friday fixture to the weekend perhaps encouraging more to enter. It certainly won the approval of those packs previously used to battling commuter traffic.
The AMHB director Richard Tyacke, fresh from judging the foxhounds, and Stuart Roscoe, master and huntsman of the Shropshire Beagles, oversaw the doghound classes.
The unentered class was won by Palmer Marlborough Clinkard and Meon Valley (PMCMV) Banker over the more substantial Royal Agricultural College (RAC) Villager. The cheerful Taw Vale team, who had set out from their Devon base at 3.45am to compete, took third with their equally strong Granite.
An unusual, almost ginger dog Victor 20, bred by the Radley College who do not keep doghounds, won the first-season hound class for the Eton College to start a most successful run, a tremendous fillip for incoming kennel-huntsman Steve Batchelor, who has had to contend with the Covid pandemic since his arrival at the Datchet kennels.
The quality, dark-mottled PMCMV Torver 20 edged the entered class over his slightly heavier, older kennel-mate Wittman 16. Bolebroke Wealden 19, well shown by new master Rebecca Callow and her assistant Sian Davis, was a popular third.
There were more cheers when the North Bucks won the couples class with smartly matched Tartan and Taser 18. RAC Scrumpy 20, who had been third in the first season class, was joined by his brother Scrutiny in second while Steven Payne, showing the Brighton, Storrington, Surrey and North Sussex (BSSNS) in the absence of their master and huntsman Ashley Doherty, was third with Warbler and Waiter 20.
Eton College Windsor 13 took the veteran class over his younger namesake from the PMCMV kennel before the latter pack turned the tables, taking top spot with a youthful Winston 16 in the stallion hound class. Christchurch and Farley Hill (CCFH) Valour 14 was second.
A previous champion here, Winston was not eligible for the championship, so there was a tussle between Torver and Eton Windsor. The judges delighted in awarding the top spot to the latter to conclude a busy morning.
Lord Herbert, chairman of the Countryside Alliance, and James Barclay judged the bitch classes. Their unentered winner was RAC Vision, a sister of Villager. Sister Vixen was second. North Bucks took third with the mottled Dahlia.
PMCMV Topsy 20, Torver’s sister, won the first-season class, beating RAC Scatter into second with CCFH Daphne 20 third. Continuing the litter’s success, PMCMV Tonic was first in the entered bitch class, BSSNS Vision 19 coming in second.
The Eton College returned to the fray with the black and tan Pleasure 20 and Paisley 19 winning the couples. The Christchurch were again second with well-matched sisters Vision and Violet 17.
The veteran class was a duel between the robust RAC Vampire 13 and PMCMV Tablet 14. Tablet prevailed with her sister Taper taking third.
The elegant Eton College Whatnot 16 won the brood bitch class over the smaller Trinity Foot and South Herts Princess 18. PMCMV Granite 18, dam of their successful T litter, was third.
The Eton concluded a hot afternoon taking the championship to complete the double with Whatnot, PMCMV Tonic 20 standing reserve.
Competitors and spectators –which included a large cohort of students supporting the RAC and the Varsity packs alike – hailed Gary Lee, chairman of the hound show, and his team for their fortitude in pulling off the show despite a host of Covid restrictions. We are in their debt.
This report can also be read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale date 24 June 2021
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