2016 Results - Day 1

The 2016 English National kicked off at 7.30am. The three days of competition are being held on the Castle Howard Estate, by kind permission of farmers D. & M.R. Fargher and their landlords, the Howard family.
The course is set on a large field which, from walking it, looks like it could prove a challenge.
There is good viewing for spectators and it is hoped the trial will attract lots of people over the weekend.
It is in the middle of the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with two National Parks on either side. As well as Castle Howard itself there are lots of attractions and places of interest nearby.

The sheep for the National will be mule ewes provided by local committee chairman Alec Mosey.
The top five competitors will be picked each day with the three runners competing in a run-off on Sunday evening to decide the English champion.

The outrun is a good 400 yards and there is a left-hand drive with a lengthy cross-drive. The land slopes away to the right of the handlers' podium before rising and levelling along the boundary. There is a dip in the land running slightly diagonally across the course. 
Dogs sent out to the left could go out of sight if they run out wide. The dip could potentially cause dogs to come in on both sides.
There are some big, old oak trees in the field but they are on the periphery. On the right hand boundary there is a hard-standing drive and a wood. Towards the top of the field there are beech trees which were rustling loudly in the wind on Thursday afternoon.
The field narrows to a point at the top. The sheep will be brought out from the sheep pens through a hole in the hedge on the left-hand side and will be walked to the point of lift.
The field falls away slightly at the lift so dogs may lose sight of their sheep while on the outruns.
The land is flat from the lift but then drops before the fetch into the hollow. The sheep will go down into the hollow, through the fetch gates before coming up the slope to the podium. 
A tight turn will be needed from the first drive gates to get a good cross drive line. The line is in front of the fetch gates. The sheep will pull up to the second drive gates with the line in good view.
The mown shedding ring is in front of, and to the left of, the podium and the pen is situated to the left so the handlers will have their backs to the spectators.

 

Early this morning the sheep were working well while providing a test. They are big, strong mule ewes and have become more of a challenge with good lines being hard to achieve. They don't seem to like erratic dogs or being hassled by dog or man, and can be tricky at hand. 

At the top of the field is an old oak tree to the right of where the sheep are being set out. A number of dogs are cutting in front of it on their outruns making them quite tight at the top. Dogs running on the left can be seen approaching by the sheep. The shepherds are doing a good job at the top of the field, but some packets are hard to hold.

It is difficult to get a good line on the cross drive due to the lay of the land.

 

There were three brace runners today.

Thomas Longton got to the open pen with Maya and Fan but they ran out of time. The open pen is to the right of the shedding ring and is on the downhill slope.

Tim Foster also ran out of time at the open pen despite his best efforts at keeping the ewes settled.

 

After the early morning light rain the day has brightened up. The sun has been shining and the dogs have been quite hot coming off the field, making the most of the big tub of water to cool off.

 

Today's brace scores were:

Colin Pickford, Rainow Meg and Rainow Liz, Disq;

Thomas Longton, Maya and Fan, 132T;

Tim Foster, Cockburn Mist and Cockburn Molly, 112T

 

The top five before lunch were:

1, James Howard, Glen, 171, olf 86;

2, Derek Scrimgeour, Jim, 171, olf 82;

3, Ross Watson, Nidderdale Nidd, 166;

4, Larry Cowper, Spot, 164;

5, John Carter, Jay, 163, olf 81, drives 39;

Reserve, John Palmer, Ben, 163, olf 81, drives 30.

 

The temperature cooled later in the afternoon as the cloud built-up. The judges brought in a standard after 4pm and trialling finished at 7.40pm. The English National is also the qualification trial for next year's World Trial, so the top 8 from each day will be chosen.

Towards the end of the day, Emma Gray ran as reserve with her two-year-old Tweeddale Jamie and went to the top of the leader board on 200 points, ahead of nearest rivals, Nij Vyas and his alternate dog, Jake, on 194.

 

The top five at the end of the day were:

1, Emma Gray (reserve), Tweeddale Jamie, 200;

2, Nij Vyas, Jake (Alt), 194;

3, Paul Turnbull, Mik, 190;

4, Ricky Hutchinson, Jock, 187;

5, Ben Smith, Ben, 180;

Reserve, James Dumbleton, Sid, 177.