The sun was shining on the 26th and 27th May, when the England team arrived to compete at the prestigious Skinner’s World Cup Retriever Event at Highclere Castle along with 11 other international teams. Each team consisted of 4 dogs and handlers.
The beautiful Highclere Estate provided the ideal variety of woodland, parkland and water, enabling the test organiser Peter Castleman to set up ten exercises over the two days to challenge the dogs and their handlers.
The five judges were Allan Schofield, Rupert Hill, Colin Pelham and Richard Beckerleg from England and Lydia Goossens from Belgium. They were looking for natural nose and marking ability, quietness in handling, control, drive and style together with quick pick ups and fast returns. Blanks were fired and canvas dummies used to simulate retrieves which could occur on a shooting day.
After the first day, England was in 5th place. France was leading by five points but tragically one of their dogs went lame and was unable to compete the following day. The team continued with just three dogs, but there was no way they would be able to earn enough points to win.
Although it was sunny on the second day, the wind was quite chilly, so the England team was very pleased to be able to wear their lightweight Regatta waterproof jackets over their stylish Regatta blue fleeces to keep the wind out! England upped their game and achieved much better scores. They knew the final result would be very close. After an anxious wait the results were announced….1st Switzerland, 2nd England, 3rd Austria….England had been beaten by 4 points!
That said, it was an excellent weekend and the England team certainly looked very smart in their Regatta gear.