The first day started at the nearby Limes café where the competitors could indulge in breakfast, if their stomachs were up to it. At the same time, the competitors signed in, received their bibs and the initial running order draw was held. Everyone was then introduced to the judge: George zumFelde of the SV.
The tracklayers, Ian James and Glyn Andrew worked hard, not only laying the tracks but also meeting competitors and escorting them to the start of their tracks. All the tracks were laid and run in a single, large field to aid consistency of conditions for all tracks.
The weather throughout the first day was warm and dry. As the tracks were run, events showed that though the conditions looked quite good from a distance, they proved more testing on the actual running. Some experienced dogs struggled, having said that only 2 of the 19 entered failed to gain a qualifying score. Top scores for the tracking phase were: Paul Flanagan with Wolfhaus Bud – 98 points, Henriette Bohnstedt with Beckenberry Casper – 95 points and Bill Burns with Overglinns Arko – 95 points.
As the competitors finished their respective tracks, they were then invited to make their way to the stadium (only 10 minutes drive from the tracking field) to commence their practice rounds. A barbeque had been laid on for those requiring sustenance. The increasing heat was evident as many sought shade and downed a fair amount of liquids. The mood was relaxed and happy where even those who had suffered disappointing tracks were now smiling and seemed reasonably content; a sure sign of a good event with just the right atmosphere.
The second day dawned with a clear sky and weather showing that heat would be the order of the day. The temperature throughout the day was such that the dogs would feel it, but with good concentration and drive would get through it. Even the weather was helping to make this event a true ‘test’.
George zumFelde had been asked to judge in a manner befitting a World Championship Qualifier… and he delivered. Performance and procedure were scrutinised and scored with a very sharp pencil. The helpers for the protection phase were Ian James (GSDL) and Marcus Schafer (SV).
As the competitors worked their way through the order, the day presented some ‘outstanding’ performances in both the Obedience and Protection phases. These were not performances looked at through ‘British rose-coloured glasses’. These were performances which would be ‘worth the money’ on the World Championship stage. In recent years the obedience phase had proven to be a stumbling block with 90+ performances a rarity. At Sheffield it just seemed to start coming together. Several Obedience and Protection performances came within a whisker of the coveted ‘V’. In the case of Carol Phillips and Flint; it was achieved with a 96 in Protection. At the finish the top three were: Carol Phillips with Flint – 284, Henriette Bohnstedt – 283 and the ‘new boy’ Geoff Tordoff – 280.
Summing up, the Sheffield Qualifier was a well organised and run trial with a superb venue and facilities. The competitors, aided by the facilities, came up with the goods. If some of the performances shown at Sheffield can be duplicated at the FCI and WUSV Worlds, the future of the GSDL Teams begins to look increasingly brighter.
By ??? (Do you know who wrote this article back in 2009? Let us know!)