By: Andrew Campbell
Contested between February 21-23, 2016, the National Vizsla Association drew its largest entry in its six-year history of competition at the storied Di-Lane Plantation in Waynesboro, GA for its Eastern Shooting Dog Championship and accompanying Derby Classic. The depth of the entry, alone, is clear evidence of the strength of the breed -- however, as one of the judges, Dr. Jim Carter, offered at the placements’ ceremony, he had judged this same championship in 2011 when it was first run at DiLane and in those five years, there was a clear difference in the caliber of the dogs being run. As is noted below, while there were some remarkable individual performances in both stakes, the depth of both stakes provided more than adequate proof of the status of the vizsla as a high class bird dog capable of competing against any other breed.
An event cannot grow without sustained, perennial effort from its supporters, individual and corporate -- who deserve profound thanks. The event would literally not happen without the tireless, cheerful work of Tippe Fountain who served as secretary, caterer, line marshal and about everything else in between -- as well as the competent direction of Mark Johnson and Jamie Fountain. Numerous attendees volunteered to drive the dog wagon and bird plant, including Melissa Thomas, Karen Concilio, Lily Fountain, Brian Fidler, and Todd Meyer. Particular thanks go to Josh Holden for the use of his ATV dog-wagon. In addition to taking a stint at driving the dog wagon, the Eastern Shooting Dog Championship is grateful to Terry Tryzinski and Nestle-Purina for its support of the championship along with that of Garmin-Tritronics. The event cannot grow, too, without support from professionals, amateurs, and their owners willing to enter and compete with their dogs -- and for, thanks go to Dan DiMambro, Carrie Syzyclo, and Jamie Fountain for bringing dogs that were obviously prepared to compete at the highest level. As is noted in the main narrative, the number of owners who came to the event to watch their dogs compete was impressive; the sport would be nothing without them.
The judges for this year’s iteration came from near and far. Both experienced amateur handlers, Jim Carter, DVM, and Andrew Campbell came from Georgia and Massachusetts to offer their attention and experience. Known to many as the owner, trainer and handler of National championship-caliber Brittanys , Dr. Carter is no stranger to the vizsla breed having judged this same championship in 2011 and the Vizsla Club of America’s National Puppy stake in 2012; Andrew Campbell runs vizslas and pointers and most recently judged the Region 1 and Region 16 All-Age championships.
While rain, heat, and dust all threatened to impinge on the running of the event, conditions were fairly consistent throughout the three-day running of the Championship and accompanying Derby Classic. While the mornings were generally cool, there was also plenty of water on course for dogs running in the afternoon; scenting conditions appeared to be good with fairly consistent, light breezes over the three days.
At the conclusion of the Shooting Dog Championship, the judges were pleased to announce Shiloh’s Red White & Blue, bred and owned by Rob Tomczak, and handled by Dan DiMambro, to the winner’s spot with Tibercreek’s Billy the Kid (‘Pete’), bred and owned by Mark Calder, and handled by Jamie Fountain, to the runner-up position. Both dogs exhibited a consistency of application, the intelligence to navigate varied kinds of cover, and exemplary style and manners. The judges also held in particularly high regard the performance rendered by Shiloh’s Holy Roller (‘Bishop’), bred by Rob Tomczak, owned by Rob and Josh McPherson, and handled by Dan DiMambro. As will be noted in the narrative below, Bishop gave the kind of performance that it is genuinely uncommon to be able to describe a vizsla as having exhibited, a true all-age performance. And while that rendered him ineligible for consideration for this championship, it was a remarkable feat by both dog and handler.
Blue ran in the fifth brace in the middle of the afternoon, the conditions warm and increasingly dusty. Braced with last year’s winner, Durite’s Covey Rise (‘Hootie’), the two dogs broke away hard to the northeast. Hootie would be found standing first at 0:10 near an old, wrecked pine on the left side of the course, all in order; point coming for Blue shortly afterwards at 0:12 just shy of the Plantation Road crossing, his stand sadly proving non-productive. The two dogs would be found together at 0:19 at the very head of the long Herndon Road arm, buried behind a plum thicket. Powerful and searching through the water crossing and the patchwork of fields before the Old Homestead site, Blue would re-affirm the fluidity and sense of the front that would hallmark his run. Coming to the Old Homestead at 0:36 Hootie would be found backing Blue dug in on the edge of the thicket on the far side. Blue would be found shortly thereafter at 0:40 standing at the head of the piney arm that runs roughly westward at the southbound turn, a sizeable covey of birds put into the air ahead of the stylish dog. While Hootie would run with similar energy, he required more handling to maintain the front, while Blue would flow over the Plantation Road crossing and down to the hard right, southwesterly turn. Sent out laterally to the southwest, he would be seen taking the piney woods edge up over the hill and out of view to re-emerge across the front. Both dogs would be found at two distinct locations in the final piney edge at time, birds successfully put to flight from both locations.
Pete ran in the third brace, the final brace before lunch, braced with Cali’s Wiki Mai Tai at Sunset (‘Mia’), owned by Chad & Nancy Chadwell and handled by Chad. Both dogs would break away in spirited fashion, the dust rising from the road with the passage of the handlers. Pete would dig in hard on the left side of the course to be found standing at 0:11 in the feeder patch shortly before the road crossing; barely into the next field, he would come to a stop again at 0:14 on a stray bird near the road. And after a strong purposeful cast down the right side of the course, he would next be found standing at 0:19 in a plum thicket shortly before the first water crossing. Mia would continue to work diligently, occasionally looping back on herself, Pete seeming to find the more productive, more forward lines to run. Arguably the most picturesque scene of the whole trial would await the handlers and judges at 0:29 at the Old Homestead, Mia pointing into the deepest plum thicket, Pete honoring, both dogs intense standing in dappled shadow, surrounded by lush green grass and framed by clumps of daffodils -- and the birds successfully sent into the air. Pete would stop shortly thereafter at 0:35 at the arm of pines at the pipeline crossing, but nothing could be produced. Both dogs would move nicely through the next quarter of the course, down across the Plantation Road into the sandy bowl and up through the next piney cut. After watering their dogs at the hard right turn, both dogs would be sent on, Mia would engage the piney wood section on the left side of the course, Pete the broad grassy strips at its heart. Coming to the head of this section, Pete would be seen at 0:57 standing off the final piney arm by some 15 yards, Mia bursting through the narrow chute ahead of him, but never turning her head away from the piney strip, before coming to a stop for a divided find. Taken on, Mia would stop some 100 yards further down the next grassy strip, Pete honoring in a stylish, mannerly fashion -- the stop sadly proving non-productive and bringing an end to the brace. While not exhibiting quite the same degree of ground speed or range as the winner, Pete would earn his runner-up’s position for the consistency and intelligence of his application and his integrity and style in a variety of situations.
For the first brace, Poquito’s Maracas de Riata (‘Mara’), handled by Jamie Fountain, with proud owner Karen Concilio riding in support of her dog, would be brought to the line with Meyer’s Bella, handled by Carrie Syczylo, also supported by proud owner, Todd Meyer. Sent off, both dogs would establish a pleasing, snappy pace through the first northbound patchwork of grass and plum thickets, cardinals flitting from bush to bush in the cool, morning air. The first action would come shortly before the Plantation Road at 0:10, both dogs dug in close to each other in a dense plum thicket. At the flush, Bella would display her youth and would need to be whoaed to a stop at the shot ending her bid. Sent on alone, Mara would soon be found standing once more looking into a grassy section midway down the next strip, the dog stylish for the pair of birds sent into the air. Mara would continue to work in a snappy, methodical fashion around the course’s westward turn to be found high and tight at 0:35 on the pipeline piney arm for another pair of good-flying birds. She would continue to work consistently through the remainder of the course, coming to a final stop at 0:55 in the ultimate pine strip. Despite a relocation attempt, this would prove unsuccessful and she would finish out the hour as she had started, moving smartly.
The second brace would see Durite’s Surewin (‘Sherwin’), handled by Carrie Syczylo, and with owner Roger Acuff riding the dog wagon in support of his dog, brought to the line with Broadrun’s Tornado at Winddance (‘Tori’), handled by Jamie Fountain, with owner Phil Stout scouting. Both dogs would establish a pleasing pattern out front, working hard to identify which lines would offer the most information in the slight breezes coming up their backs. Tori would first stop at 0:11 at the feeder site shortly before the Plantation Road crossing, the initial flushing attempt proving fruitless, but the relocation effort masterly as the bird running through the dry, scrubby grass was finally pinned some 10 yards further downwind. Both dogs would establish their own patterns for the next third of the brace -- Sherwin bolder, but requiring more handling, Tori more methodical but going with her handler easily -- as they approached the Old Homestead turn. Tori would establish point looking into the thicket at 0:30, Sherwin’s enthusiasm sadly taking him into the otherwise unsuspecting pair of birds and ending his bid. She would point again at 0:33, this time out on the piney arm at the pipeline, mannerly through flush and shot. Otherwise interrupted by a non-productive at 0:43 at a small pond on the downslope of the sandy bowl beyond Plantation Drive, Tori would finish out her hour undiminished.
The third brace has already been covered in the placements.
The fourth brace, the first of the afternoon, would see Upwind Tonka Geode (‘Rocko’), handled by Jamie Fountain, braced with Bishop, handled by Dan DiMambro. As the preface has already alluded, this was the brace that would ultimately feature the most horsepower. Both dogs would begin by taking the right side of the course, powering through the first section and quickly establishing almost an entire field’s distance between themselves and their handlers. Coming through the first field around 0:07, Bishop made his last appearance for several long minutes crossing from right to left at the entrance to the second field, Rocko in the meantime visibly pushing the front with gusto. Never panicking, DiMambro would gather up Bishop shortly before the first water crossing at 0:16 and, after a brief soaking, both dogs would blast through the turn westward. Approaching the Old Homestead at 0:27, Bishop would be seen standing out in the roadway some 10 yards off the birds and DiMambro would break into a full gallop to his dog. This is worthy of mention because the curb chain on his horse had become non-functional but so intent on the birds ahead of him, Bishop stood imperturbed by the impending apocalypse seemingly headed his way; the flush and shot were anti-climactic at best. After re-adjusting the brakes on his horse, the two would head off once again, Bishop reaffirming the quality of his nose with a stylish find at the pipeline piney arm at 0:32. In the meantime, Rocko had begun to build momentum and dig into the deep cover on the left side of the course, ultimately slipping his handler and leaving him to ask for his tracker at 0:40. For his part, Bishop would re-establish his pattern of tackling large chunks of territory, largely out of view, but to consistently appear to the front and re-establish contact with his handler. With Bishop’s furious pace and consistent forward application, the judges were obliged to extend the course to the northeast along the rim of the various cover crop fields. It was a tremendous display of canine athleticism and the importance of a genuine relationship between dog and handler.
The fifth brace has been covered already in the placements.
The sixth brace would feature Another Mai Tai Please (‘Ty’), owned and handled by Chad Chadwell, alongside Millstar’s Boss of the Plains, handled by Jamie Fountain with proud owner, Melissa Thomas, riding in the gallery. After a spirited breakaway, the two dogs would come together at 0:10 at the feeder site where Tori had executed her excellent relocation. There was some confusion as to the exact sequence of events, but ultimately Chadwell would choose to flush in front of his dog while Boss appeared to be honoring; sadly, the flushing efforts would prove unsuccessful. Coming across the Plantation Road together at 0:16, Ty would crash into a pair of birds in the first thicket on the left bringing his bid to an end, Boss coming to a mannerly stop at the birds’ flight. Over the first water crossing, Boss would take the left hand edge coming to a stop at its head at 0:29. Not seeming wholly certain, he was asked to relocate successfully pinning a pair of birds at the edge of a draw. Working diligently through the side fields on the way to the Old Homestead, the chirp of frogs clearly audible from each of the swampy bottoms, he would stop once again at 0:33, mannerly through the flush. Once through the turn and over the Plantation Road, Boss would smooth out a little in the afternoon heat and flow through the hard right turn and up over the final hill, coming to a mannerly stop at the flight of a bird from the grassy strip at its base at 0:58. He would finish out the hour going away.
Coming into season unexpectedly, Vanguard’s Make Her Mark (‘Abby’) handled by Carrie Syczylo and owned by Roger Acuff riding in the dog wagon, would be run alone as the seventh and final brace of the day. She would break away with alacrity and establish a good, searching pattern through the first two field sections. Coming to the feeder site shortly before the Plantation Road crossing at 0:11, she would come to a stylish stop, the bird running deep into the plum thicket. She would stop again shortly after the road crossing at 0:15, looking into a grass strip but all flushing efforts would prove unsuccessful. Continuing to work in an industrious fashion through the final northerly field sections, she would stop next in one of the median strips shortly after the westward turn, a likely spot for birds to have run, and sadly all flushing and relocation efforts proved fruitless and the handler elected to pick her up at 0:30.
The eight brace, comprising Saginaw Redneck Cowboy (‘Tex’), owned and handled by Mark Johnson, and Tommy’s Dixie Chick, handled by Jerry Jordan, would be turned loose first thing on Monday morning, the air cool but fairly still. Both dogs would move smartly out front for the first 10 minutes, Tex largely tackling the lower left slope, Dixie the long roadside strips on the right. Coming across the Plantation Road, Tex would continue his strong forward momentum along the feed strips to the right, while Dixie would duck left to be found standing in the pines on the edge of the crop field at 0:16. After an initially unsuccessful flushing effort, Dixie would demonstrate a deft relocation to pin a running bird on the roadside berm for her handler to flush. After the first water crossing, both dogs would work the outer rims of the field patchwork leading to the Old Homestead, both showing determination as well as a willingness to go with their handlers. Both dogs would be found standing in two distinct locations at the Old Homestead at 0:33, birds successfully put to flight ahead of them. Coming through the pipeline turn, both dogs would continue westward down the piney arm to be found stopped at 0:39, Dixie honoring Tex. The initial flushing effort would prove unsuccessful, and Tex would be obliged to execute a stop-to-flush as birds popped during his relocation effort. Both dogs would move intelligently across the sandy bowl beyond the Plantation Road crossing and then down towards the hard right turn at the drainage. Shortly before reaching the drainage, Dixie would establish point in the scrubby brush to the side at 0:50 -- all efforts proving fruitless apparently to the dog’s chagrin, Dixie effectively deciding she’d had enough for the remaining 10 minutes. By contrast, Tex would take the same line down the pines that Blue had the day before to finish the hour apparently unaffected, moving with seeming ease to the front at time.
With Abby having been run earlier, A CaseXX for JT Becker (‘Case’) would be run alone in the ninth brace. Turned loose, Case would establish a snappy, ground pattern through the first couple of fields, eventually being found on point at 0:14 in the corner shortly after the Plantation Road crossing that Dixie had most recently been located on point, a pair of birds sent into the air. Occasionally a little lateral, he would nonetheless make his way efficiently through the first half of the course to be found pointing at the Old Homestead at 0:31, and then executing a mannerly stop-to-flush near the piney arm on the turn at 0:34. Coming through the second water crossing and shortly before the top of the next slope, he would stop again at 0:39 -- another bird successfully flown ahead of him. He would continue to work in a snappy, energetic fashion down through the backside of the course and through the hard right turn, eventually stopping at the head of the final straightaway at 0:56, his stand sadly proving non-productive. He would nonetheless finish out his hour going away strong, much as he had started.
The tenth and final brace would see Remy Martin Long also run by himself. While a bracemate would likely have generated a competitive search for birds, Remy distinguished himself with some of the most intelligent, stylish and mannerly birdwork of the entire stake. Snappy and methodical, Remy would hunt his way through the first section of fields towards the first water crossing, eventually coming to a stop at 0:16 for a nice find in the pines along the left field edge. Focussed in his bird-finding mission, Remy would demonstrate both his style and manners again at 0:21 shortly before the turn to the northwest and once again at 0:38 at the Old Homestead, this third find requiring a masterfully executed relocation to get the moving birds pinned inside the thicket. His final find would see him stand almost 20 yards off the pines at the pipelines turn, entirely stoic for the covey flushed ahead of him. While he never exhibited the same degree of momentum as the winners, his birdwork left a more than positive impression at the conclusion of the stake.
As was noted by the judges at the announcement of placements, within a large field of 25 starters, there was a strong leading pool of young dogs to work with -- an encouraging sign of the strength of the breed. At the stake’s conclusion, Mia’s Hour of Kahlua (‘Cal’), bred and owned by Chad & Nancy Chadwell, and handled by Chad, was named winner; Fidler’s Fight to the Finish (‘Diesel’), bred and owned by Brian and Stephanie Fidler, and handled by Brian, was named runner-up while WindDance Bull Fighter (‘Rusty’), bred and owned by Phil and Carole Stout, and handled by Jamie Fountain was awarded third. All three of the dogs named shared three things: a consistent performance for all thirty minutes, intensity on point, and an obvious relationship with their handler. Closely behind these three was a trio of strong dogs all handled by Carrie Syczylo: Meyer’s Bella, On the Target Tango, and Durite’s Indiana Jones. On any given day, all of these dogs could have won or placed but with the depth of this particular Derby field, the placements came down to some fine distinctions.
Cal would run in the ninth brace in a brace marked by multiple pieces of birdwork and a strong ground race. Braced with Winddance China Bull, handled by Jamie Fountain, they would be turned loose on the outbound course -- both dogs choosing the right side of the course to begin their trajectory north. Glimpses of the dogs would be seen at each successive cut, disappearing again along the edge of the final field. Coming down to the water crossing, both dogs would be found standing taut at 0:16 at the head of the field. Taken on, Cal would point again shortly after the water crossing at 0:18, stopping in a plum thicket on the left side of the turn, a bird cleanly located. Both dogs would come together at the head of this field at 0:21 and point a pair of birds by the creekside. While China would lose some of her boldness in the final five minutes, Cal would continue to seek the outer edges of the side fields and move forward with purpose. He would stop for a final time at the Old Homestead at 0:28, before finishing going away strong apparently unaffected by the afternoon heat.
Diesel would be run immediately after Cal in the tenth brace, paired with Islandtime’s Kentucky Derby handled by Carrie Syczylo, in the high heat of the afternoon on the inbound half of the course. While imminently lively for the duration of the brace Derby seemed to lack focus and appeared intermittent in her efforts and would ultimately go birdless; by contrast, Diesel would tackle the course ahead of him with a fervor. Cast loose from the pipeline turn, his first cast would take him out along the cover edge to the left before turning back into his handler along the creekside woods. He would have an unexpected bird contact with no established point coming through the first cut at 0:05 but would swing through the giant sandy bowl below Plantation Road and up along the woods edges on the right. Approaching the creek before the hard right turn, Diesel would power through the gap and establish a definitive point at 0:12 in the next grass section, a bird successfully flushed and a shot fired. Through the final section of the course down towards the barn, Diesel would continue to surge forward and apply himself intelligently along likely objectives, finishing strong.
Rusty would run on Monday afternoon in the very first brace, handled by Jamie Fountain, and while his race would be marked by the occasional comeback, it was more than offset by his constant application and numerous mature moves forward along the prominent edges of the first northbound course. His single find would come right at the first field cut at 0:06, his point definitive, his style intense, as his handler approached to put the bird in the air. Losing little time in gathering him up after the flush, his handler was able to showcase the dog’s obvious desire to seek out likely objectives in his pursuit of birds. Engaging the sidefield edges after the first water crossing, the second half of his brace would be characterized by mature application and consistent effort.
The first brace for the Derby Classic was brought to the line after lunch on Monday, the air relatively still, the dust rising heartily from horses’ hooves; amidst the seriousness of the dogs’ application, cardinals would flit through the plum thickets that lined the outbound course, especially. The stake would be run on the one-hour championship course, the second brace of dogs taken out in the dog wagon to run inbound. The first brace would feature Rusty (already mentioned in the placements) and Durite’s Katy Kat (‘Katie’), handled by Carrie Syczylo. She would set out in a snappy fashion, consistent in her effort throughout the stake -- her ground race energetic but lacking the punch of the main contenders; she would have bird contact at 0:06 shortly after the first cut.
The second brace would see Winddance Hit a Bullseye (‘Seye’), handled by Jamie Fountain, and Durite’s Indiana Jones, handled by Carrie Syzcylo, turned loose at the pipeline turn. Both dogs would break away in spirited fashion, Jones especially showing a determination that, while it occasionally merited some hard handling, would almost literally carry her through the entire stake. Seye would nonetheless establish point at 0:06 on the ridge before Plantation Road, and then again at 0:10 in the final cut above the big sandy bowl, standing tall as his handler approached. Perhaps buoyed by this early success, Seye would get a little out of pocket on remaining back course, the effort to get him back on track no doubt sapping the dog, leaving him to finish somewhat shorter at the end of the brace. Jones, while stopping twice in likely locations but no bird contact seen, nevertheless tackled the cover with an intensity and consistency that left no doubt of the dog’s potential. While occasionally lateral, she finished in the final left-hand field going away strong, seemingly with plenty in the tank.
The third brace would feature Pele’s Wiki Aloha Spirit (‘Shaka’), handled by Chad Chadwell, and Tonka Mudbone Khokkiphapi (‘Kip’), handled by Jamie Fountain. Whether it was the scenting conditions in the height of the afternoon, both dogs would seem to struggle with establishing a productive, forward pattern. Both were engaged with their handlers and industrious in their effort, but even despite a find at 0:06 at the first cut for Shaka, both dogs never appeared to fully engage the course but seemed uneven in their application.
Next to the line for the inbound course were CK Smiley’s Legacy, handled by Carrie Syzcylo, with proud owner Roger Acuff riding the dog wagon, paired with Fidler’s CK Kiss My Sasafras (‘Sassy’), owned and handled by Brian Fidler. Both dogs were turned loose at the Old Homestead and would successfully make the turn to the south. Enthusiastic in her application, Sassy needed direction to stay to the front, her relationship with her handler nonetheless never in question. Legacy, by contrast, had an abundance of power but required more effort to bring her back from her wide casts. Successfully making the hard right turn, both dogs would sweep downhill towards the final left turn, Sassy running over a bird at 0:24 at the head of the field, Legacy flash-pointing a bird in the pine strip at 0:26. Both dogs would finish out their braces moving nicely ahead of their handlers.
The fifth outbound brace would comprise Alpine’s Mischief Managed (‘Arya’), handled by Jamie Fountain, with owner Karen Concilio riding in the gallery, and Hi-Weyer Entertainer (‘Whitney’), handled by Jerry Jordan. Shortly after the first cut, Whitney would establish point at 0:07 on the right side, Fountain obliged to fire the gun for his fellow handler due to an equipment malfunction. Aarya in the meantime showed little respite in her energetic application, bird finding clearly foremost in her mind as she concentrated on the left side of the course. Shortly before the water crossing, both dogs would be seen pointing at 0:20 in on the left corner in the pines. Both dogs would get hung up in the tall grass strips in the sidefields after the water crossing, interrupting the flow of their races as their handlers wrestled to keep them ahead; Whitney would subsequently point one more time at 0:28. Both dogs would finish the brace as they had started, eager and going away.
The sixth and final brace of Monday afternoon would see two strong dogs, Saginaw Redneck Boomer, handled by Jamie Fountain and owned and scouted by Mark Johnson, along with Meyer’s Bella, handled by Carrie Syzcylo and with admiring owner, Todd Meyer, riding along in support. The action would begin quickly at 0:02 with both dogs stopped for birds at the Old Homestead. Making the turn at the pipeline, both dogs would take the piney arm down to the right and swing forward -- Boomer, then Bella, and then Boomer again all having finds on the far right hand field edge before the second water crossing. A handful to gather up after this rapid succession of bird contacts, Boomer would finish with enthusiasm, but lacked the forward momentum that characterized the winners. Coming through the cut beyond the sandy bowl, Bella would break to the left side and would be found standing in the pines at 0:18, as stylish as could be. Sent on, she would then cast down the right side of the woods, coming to a stop beside the shell of the dead pine at 0:21; this stand proving non-productive. Clearly committed to finding and pointing birds with high style, Bella handled kindly through the hard right turn and up over the hill on the left side, her finish sadly marred as she got hung up in the tall grass and thickets as she tried to cut through the undergrowth to finish in the open fields to the front.
The seventh brace would be the first on Tuesday morning and would feature Winddance Top Bull (‘Penny’), handled by Jamie Fountain, and Fidler’s CK Ragin Bull, owned and handled by Brian Fidler. Ragin would establish a solid forward pattern up to the Plantation Road crossing at which point he was seen stopped at 0:13 in front of a plum thicket, although not staunch -- his handler electing to immediately relocate him to allow the dog to work the situation out and then remounting to take him on. Penny, in the meantime, was snappy but seemed eager to hunt every objective, finding herself out to the side with some frequency; despite her obvious industry, she would finish the brace without birdwork. Through the water crossing, Ragin would take the left side of the course and would stop at 0:23 beside the big, dead pine, a bird successfully put up ahead of the dog. Despite this reward, Ragin would downshift slightly, his finish solid, but missing the impetus that he had begun with.
The eighth brace would see Gundog Vizsla’s Blue Boy, handled by Jerry Jordan, and On the Target Tango, handled by Carrie Scyzylo, brought to the line. They would break away smartly down past the pipeline turn, both dogs needing some encouragement to stay forward as they coursed down through the water crossing. Coming up onto the ridge above Plantation Road, Tango would stop at a plum thicket on the right at 0:11, a bird successfully flushed ahead of him. Blue, in particular, would get hung up in the valley on the right before both dogs were finally able to extricate themselves and come forward through the big, sandy bowl. Coming up to the cut out of the bowl, both dogs would be found pointing in the piney arm on the right side at 0:17, birds sent skyward ahead of them. With both dogs handling a little kinder through the back side of the course, Tango would point once more at 0:24, this time just beyond the creek at the hard right turn before finishing strong down in the final fields.
The ninth and tenth braces have been covered in the placements.
The eleventh brace comprised Sparkling Jem, handled by Chad Chadwell, and Winddance Bull at the Gate (‘Nash’), handled by Jamie Fountain, the temperature already starting to rise significantly. This brace would be one of contrasts: Jem hunting (and finding birds) almost to a fault, Nash tackling the course with a fervor that would test the limits of his relationship with his handler. Starting out hard on the left side of the course, Nash would consistently dig into cover only to be sporadicallyly seen before the Plantation Road crossing. This pattern would continue through the next long field, ultimately causing Fountain to ask for his tracker at 0:18. Jem would first point at 0:08 in the second field, stylish and intense on her birds, and while snappy and energetic also content to explore almost every likely bird location. She would be rewarded again shortly after making the turn, taking the left edge and then coming to a stylish stop at 0:22 in the same thicket and then at 0:23 at the same creek crossing that Cal had located birds, each time birds sent successfully into the air. She would score another find at 0:27 in the field before the power lines, her handler electing simply to take her on rather than dismount and fire. While missing the fire needed to break into the placements, Jem nonetheless proved her aptitude as a skilled, stylish bird finder.
The twelfth brace saw PF Indy Blaze, handled by Carrie Syczylo, with proud owner Damon Daniels in the dog wagon, paired with CK Post Route Scout, handled by Jamie Fountain. Turned loose at the Old Homestead, Scout would quickly head to the piney arm at the pipeline turn to be found standing at 0:02 where birds would be put into the air. Blaze would continue through the course with a strong mixture of intelligence and energy, appearing to hit likely objectives but ultimately going birdless -- her strong finish, at the very least, confirming her athletic ability. After his find, Scout would settle down into a respectable pace that would neverthelesse take him to the outer edges of the back course fields and through the hard right turn. At that point, he would find an additional gear and ultimately finish stronger through the final grassy cover strips.
The final brace would prove to be unlucky thirteen for Man of War, handled by Jerry Jordan. After a snappy, but scattered procession through the first couple of fields, Jordan elected to pick up War at 0:10 ending the 2016 Derby Classic.