The 2000 British Cocker Spaniel National Field Trial Championship

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The 2000 British Cocker Spaniel National Field Trial Championship

by Geoffrey English

It was off the county of Norfolk, Great Britain, for this year’s British Cocker Spaniel National Field Trial Championship. Norfolk is one of the most sparsely populated of all English counties, with a size of 2,069 square miles and a population of 740,000. Probably the most famous estate to be found in the county is that of Sandringham, the home of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, and the home of the 2000 British Cocker National Field Trial Championship. This would be the third Cocker Championship on the Estate and Head Keeper William Meldrum and his under keepers did an exceptional job behind the scenes preparing for this year’s events at Sandringham Estate, not an easy undertaking. The Estate covers approximately 20,000 acres. The beat we were following consisting of great cocker cover, thick bramble and deep woods. Even William Shakespeare himself could not have picked a better setting for what was about to unfold for the 2000 British Spaniel Field Trials.

Handler Ian Openshaw and FTCh Parkbreck Perfection take top honors in this years English National Cocker Spaniel Championship.
Photo by: Author
Judges for this year's Championship were David Pope and Tim Crothers. Both are accomplished Spaniel men in their own right. David Pope, owner of Drury Kennel, was brought up in a typical English shooting family and has been trialing dogs for nearly twenty years. Most notably on David's trailing resume was his win of the 1987 British National Any Variety Field Trial Championship with FTCh Drury Girl. Tim Crothers, owner of Birdrowe Kennels, is no stranger to Spaniels as well, training gun dogs since 1974. He has enjoyed considerable success in the field trial community, winning the Irish Kennel Club's Spaniel Championship in 1987 and 1989.

The morning news announced weather for the upcoming day to be sunny, 46 degrees and breezy, a pleasant change from the week leading up to the trial. As the "Caravan" arrived at the grounds, one could not help but notice a thick frost lining the trees and grounds where this year’s events would take place. The scenting conditions for the cockers who ran first were less than ideal. The rabbits and pheasant that populated the grounds were holding tight under the frost-covered bramble and the rising temperatures caused the frost, that lined the trees and bramble, to melt and saturate the cover. The slightest fault in a dog’s nose or pattern would quickly send a competitor home.
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