Day 1

Today is the first of three days of the English National. In the singles competition, fifty run today, with the top five scores the first of the fifteen members of the English team to compete at the International trial in September. The three sixth placed, one from each day, will run off for the reserve place at the end of trialling on Sunday. Then follows the runoff between the three first placed to decide the National Champion and team captain. During the lunch break each day, the doubles runs take place, with the top two scores over the three days becoming the National Brace Champion and the runner up the second member of the English Brace team. 

 

Reports from the field by Suzy Woolston.

8.30: A fresh morning. Slightly overcast with a chill wind blowing across the course. Sue Little and Foxey made a good opening to the day's running. The outrun is approx 570 yards. The estate's North Country Mules are running well so far. It's a left hand drive. The clover field provides little in the way of markers for driving. Time has been the issue with no completed runs so far. 

9.00: Gordon Watt with Moss as well as George Bonsall have completed the single within the time. 

9.30: Arthur Temple will have a rerun after six sheep were put out. Merrill Fox and Angie Blackmore have both retired. 

10.00: Arthur Temple completed. Tom Huddleston and Jet timed up in the single. There has been a brief shower and the sky is grey. Quite a contrast to last year's National, weather wise.

11.00: The sky has brightened up and we're getting through the runs quite quickly. More spectators have gathered along the fence. The sheep are a little tricky at the pen and the outrun has caused a few problems. The lift cannot be seen from all areas of the course. Handlers have a raised platform to stand on to allow them to see. Ben Smith has just completed his run and there is a slight lull in proceedings as we wait for Dick Roper. Someone had a bit of time on their hands with the loos as they're tups and ewes rather than ladies and gents. Who is meant to use the ones marked wethers? That raises a few questions. 

11.30: Dick Roper has just had the fastest single of the day with Pete. They had barely entered the ring when an opportunity arose, so they took it! The sun has come out, which is very welcome.

11.45: Tim Foster has retired with Nelly after having problems at the top - not alone in that! 

Midday. Colin Balmbro has run with Cap. K Dodd's Ben has come in a bit tight on the right hand outrun but gone back again. The ground drops down from the handler. The shedding ring sits with its edge at the bottom of the slope. The ground then rises gently before levelling out. The fetch is straight and long up to the fetch gates which are sited where the ground starts to drop. The driving is all within the sloped area which makes the drive look smaller than it is. The outrun has plenty of space either side. Most dogs have been sent left. Just a few go right. The sheep have been testing at the pen for Colin and Cap. 

12.15: James McBride's dog crossed on the outrun, so they're quickly off. Ian Murdoch was the last singles run before lunch. Dick Roper is the leader up to lunchtime on 192. Robin Dean has started his brace run. \Sheep were tricky at the open pen where Robin timed up.

1.10: Ian Mackay has timed up in the brace. Completed first pen but unfortunately his second dog went back up the field instead of to the other sheep. Ian lost time calling the dog back. 

1.50: Mark Day was the last brace run today and the only completion. 

2.15: Ray Edwards completed the single, running Bill, just as the bell rang.  Kerry Watts had a good run but had to re-shed and was then called off. 

2.20: There are dark clouds and the threat of rain. The light is very flat with Michael Longton at the post. Taking off has been done well by John and Jackie Marsh this morning. Merrill Fox and her young Alf are now taking a turn. Thomas Longton and Maya completed the single. They had a challenge at the pen but won in the end. 

3.40: Derek Scrimgeour completed the course, again with problems at the pen and some points lost at the top of the field. There are plenty of trade stands, including boots, sticks, wool filled duvets, other woollen products, strawberries and cream and fresh baked goods. Rob Moore, running Glen, has just been timed up in the single.

4.10: Val Powell and Mint fell below the standard after two attempts at the single. James Howard and Wisp had a nice run and finished well. 

4.30: Richard Montgomery retired after the dog crossed on the outrun. Emma Gray finished well although went a bit off line on the cross drive. She finished with a minute to spare on a good single. 

5.10: The sun is now shining and it is warm. S Duckworth completed. Larry Cowper's Spot crossed so retired.  Jane Harper and Scruff were going well but a missed cross drive gate and less good shed put them below the standard. Ten dogs left to run on a pleasant afternoon.

5.30: Mark Elliott fell below the standard in the single. Ross Watson ran out of time at the pen after a decent run. 

6.15: John Palmer retired in the ring. Eamonn Lawless' Niamh crossed. Nij Vyas missed the cross drive gate and a chance in the shed so below standard. 

7.15: Tom Lawrenson was timed up trying to get the single. Frank Satterthwaite was going well but had trouble with the single and was timed out. The last two were below the standard at the pen. That's it for today. Day two starts at 8.30 tomorrow morning.

Summary. Outrun proved a challenge and pen seemed to lose most points while shedding was time consuming. There were many who timed up in the single. The driving went fairly smoothly for most with not many gates missed. There was a spell in the afternoon when the sheep became more challenging at the pen with sheep ducking past the pen either dog or handler side. A good day's trialling