GROVESPRING, MO. — Held March 12-17, the National Vizsla Association conducted the 24th running of its National Championships and Derby Classic, the 18th consecutive at the Sportsmen’s Association grounds outside Grovespring, Mo.

The grounds are spacious enough to accommodate a three-hour continuous course and host the Missouri All-Age Championship immediately after the NVA’s conclusion.

Like several other clubs, the National Vizsla Association employs a couple of minor course modifications but nevertheless takes advantage of almost 1,500 acres to run its championship stakes.

This year’s renewal was blessed with great dog work and good sportsmanship, the welcome attendance of many owners to watch their dogs, and the ongoing support of its long-standing, perennial corporate sponsors — Purina, Garmin, Dogs Unlimited, and Christie Saddlery — for all of which the organization is deeply grateful.

A previous reporting commitment kept me from arriving before the start of the National Amateur Championship — and while the descriptions of those winners’ performances is supplemented by conversation with the judges, I am deeply grateful to Natalie Howard for her thorough summaries of the braces.


National Amateur Championship


2018 NVA National Amateur Championship
Winner: Reve O/H Jim Gingrich
R/U: Kimber O/H Jarrett & Allison Bell

The judges were both successful, well-regarded amateur trainers and handlers. Joe Worsham of Easton, Mo., has trained and handled multiple champions, including Worsham’s Silver Streak which qualified to run at the 2001 National Championship at Ames. Jay Lewis of Ashland, Mo., has also handled multiple champions under his Bocomo kennel name in both all-age and shooting dog competition. For both judges, this was their first time viewing an exclusively-Vizsla field, and both were explicit about the strength of the breed and the depth of the competition. The National Vizsla Association appreciates their experience and concentration in the saddle for the duration of the event.

From a field of 29 starters, the judges named Burr Oak’s Reve, bred by Brian and Stephanie Fidler and owned and handled by Jim Gingrich  of Winnebago, Ill., as the 2018 National Amateur Champion. Kick Em Up Kimber, owned by Jarrett and Allison Bell of Troy, Mo., bred by Ron Chenoweth, and handled by Jarrett, was runner-up.

This was a reversal of the placements from the 2016 National Championship when Kimber claimed the title — and while Jarrett Bell is no stranger as a winning handler in the NVA’s national events, this would prove to be Jim Gingrich’s first national win handling one of his dogs.

In the judges’ opinion, both dogs had distinguished themselves with the strength of their forward races, the quality of their finds, and their desire to flow through the country with their handlers.

The judges also wished to note the strong performances of the following dogs: B G K’s Blinged Up Rossi (Bell), Cali’s Wiki Wiki Mai Tai At Sunset (Chadwell), Diamond C’s Recon (Corliss), Huntin With a Little Swagger (Bell), and CK Wrigs of Broad Run’s Boone (Anderson).


Burr Oak’s Reve (Gingrich) ran in the eighth brace on the first course. Reve took off strong and was found standing   just before the road crossing. Handler was able to produce a bird on the find and Reve handled it clean. She then took the left side treeline all the way to the second creek crossing coming into the island field, sticking to the line and going forward. She continued along the left side treeline and was found standing to the front,  handler producing a bird  here and Reve handling it clean. Reve continued her forward run making her way up horse killer hill and was found standing at 50 just on top of the hill. Handler produced a bird and she once more handled it perfectly. Reve finished the hour going forward, her strong performance awarded the title.

Kick Em Up Kimber (Bell) was braced with Briar In My Boot (Hess) in the tenth brace. Both dogs took off through sycamore bottom making their way up the hill headed toward the twin barns. Briar worked the left side treeline as Kimber made her way up the right side of the hill. Kimber was found standing at 14 just after the barns. Handler produced a bird and Kimber caught the front after the find. Briar was found standing at 20. A bird was produced on the find and then it was Briar’s turn to catch the front. Both dogs had a nice race along the right side line coming out of the bull pasture. Kimber was found standing at the dead tree at the far end of the field, Briar backing. Bell produced a bird and the  dogs handled the find clean. Both dogs worked their way back up the hill headed back toward the twin barns and were found standing in the trees on the right side of the Valley of Death chute at 45. Both handlers worked to produce a bird here. A small covey of birds was produced, Briar turning to mark after the flush, Kimber handling the find immaculately. Both dogs finished the course ahead into the field after the double gates. Kimber’s strong hour earned the runner-up award.

Grovespring, Mo., March 12

Judges: Jay Lewis and Joe Worsham


Winner—BURR OAK’S REVE, 1625747, female, by Boot Scootin Boogie—Lundy’s Fiddlin With Fire. Jim Gingrich, owner and handler.

Runner-Up—KICK EM UP KIMBER, 1617822, female, by Sam I Am—Ck Penny. J. D. Bell, owner and handler.



National Derby Classic


2018 NVA National Derby Classic
Winner: Sassy H:Brian Gingrich O:Ron & Denise Chenoweth
1st R/U Sawney O: Mike Chowning H: Laura Miller
2nd R/U Òengus O/H: Laura Miller.

 Staying on from the judging the Amateur, Jay Lewis was joined by Bob Burchett of Grovespring, Mo. No stranger to the grounds either, Bob is best known as a trainer and handler of some of the strongest, most stylish Brittanys in the country.

The National Vizsla Association is grateful for their diligence and attention during their time in the saddle.

From a strong field of 18 starters, the judges named C K Touchdown Sassy, owned and bred by Ron Chenoweth of Port Byron, Ill., and handled by Brian Gingrich, the winner. Two littermates, Millstar’s Lion Rampant (Sawney) and Millstar’s Saltire (Oengus), took second and third. Both dogs were bred and handled by Laura Miller of Maxwell, Ia., with Sawney owned by Mike Chowning and Oengus owned by Laura.

Unlike last year, the Derby used the entire three-hour course continuously and began shortly after lunch on Wednesday. The temperature remained in the upper 40s, the air very dry, and the wind gusty making scenting conditions difficult for many of these young dogs.

The Winners

C K Touchdown Sassy competed in the fifth brace and began her bid on course No. 3 at the far end of the Valley of Death chute. After blowing through the length of the chute, Sassy punched out to the far side of the sycamore bottom field and out the far corner of the field and across the road. Coming through the double gates, she went down the west-east treeline and through the creek crossing, turning at her handler’s persistent squalling and swinging northbound along the lower field. Reuniting with her handler on the high side below Andy Daugherty’s kennels, Sassy moved purposefully down the creekside edge on the right, the northeasterly wind anchoring her to it all the way around the hook and up under the Bramhall cemetery. She continued her purposeful cast to the northeast corner of the next field before coming up the treeline to the gap and stopping at 14, high and stylish. She relocated herself and while her handler dismounted to assist her, she ultimately went on — the interlude at least demonstrating her willingness to point. Punching through into the breakaway field, Sassy tackled the challenge of hamburger hill, undaunted by the uneven rocky surface before swinging down into the final arm of the breakaway hay field. Sent to the northeast to finish, she crossed the breakaway field and finished charging down the creekside’s edge cover — having spent thirty minutes showing her drive, athleticism, and strong sense of the front.

Millstar’s Lion Rampant, callname Sawney, was in the first brace, running on the first half of the first course. The temperature was in the mid-50s, a light southwest breeze. He broke away hard down the long right side of the first field, pointed out passing through the dead tree gap well to the front. Moving smoothly through the first creek crossing and down the avenue of trees, Sawney took the next most obvious line ahead of him before being asked to turn and come back through the second creek crossing. He swung high around the copse before dropping down to the road crossing at the Davis bottom. He  punched up the left side of the Davis field before swinging out on the treeline toward the creek. Some 75 yards from the cut-through, he swung and pointed decisively at 24, tail high, broke but for a small turn to mark flight of a pair of birds. After downshifting slightly after the road crossing, the find appeared to help him find high gear once more in the full heat of the sun. Sawney finished strong swinging around the lower edge of the island field, leaving no doubt of his potential for the future.

Millstar’s Saltire, callname Oengus, was in the sixth brace, turned loose from the initial breakaway field in the full warmth of the sun. He broke away purposefully down the right side, dropping down into the creek bed and going forward, popping out and swinging around past the old grain elevator and through the neck. Moving smoothly through the first creek crossing, he was forward up the avenue of trees and turned west along the treeline. He got perhaps 100 yards up into the wind before stopping stylishly  at 12, staunch through the shot. Wrangled forward, Oengus resumed his way up the creekside edge before being cooled in the small pond on the slope before the road crossing. Into the Davis bottom, he ultimately swung out to the creek bed forward, emerging at the intersection with the treeline where his brother had located birds, finishing the line before swinging up onto the wooded shoulder on the left. He swung around that upper apron before dropping forward toward the creek crossing where time expired. Occasionally lacking the degree of focus that his brother had demonstrated, Oengus  earned his placement with intelligent application (rewarded with a find in difficult conditions), and a solid thirty minutes.

Judges: Bob Burchett and Jay Lewis


1st—C K TOUCHDOWN SASSY, 1678000, female, by Touchdown Kid—C K Guy’s Dee Dee. Ron Chenoweth, owner; Brian Gingrich, handler.

2d—MILLSTAR’S LION RAMPANT, 1675351, male, by Lundy’s Red Bull—C K Millstar’s Wee Dram. Mike Chowning, owner; Laura Miller, handler.

2d—MILLSTAR’S SALTIRE, 1671543, male, by Lundy’s Red Bull—C K Millstar’s Wee Dram. Laura Miller, owner and handler.


National Open Championship


2018 NVA National Open Champion
Winner: Red H: Brian Gingrich O: Pat Bangert
R/U : Ty O/H Chad Chadwell and Nancy Browne

 Red Baron ran in the fifth brace with CK Guy’s Hot N Spicey (Ginger/ Chenoweth) on a warm, dry afternoon. Turned loose on the second course (albeit further on in the patchwork of hay fields below apple tree hill), Red  made short work of that looping curve of fields before punching into the sycamore bottom, taking the long field edge and swinging wide past the double gates to come up the right side of the hill toward the twin barns and seen climbing out over the rise as the gallery had its first glimpse of the two structures. Once into the big field below the blue house, he powered up the left side of the drainage and stopped at 20 on the lower eastern slope below the catchment pond, birds successfully flown out of the thicket ahead of him. Once through into the bull pasture he swung wide and came forward along the lower fenceline, climbing out the pasture and navigating the gate chute into the next large open field. He punched down the cover line of dun, broomsedge on the right side before swinging forward past the dead trees — where he was found standing at 36, birds flown out of the nest of brambles.

He powered over the next rise and down in the chute leading to the overflow parking and corrals, and initiated the climb to the barns where he was watered before the descent into the Valley of Death. He swung up high on the right side and came to a stop three-quarters of the way up the slope at 49, hidden slightly behind a tall tree, a pair of birds flushed easily ahead of him. In the final field section before the double gates, Red downshifted as the ambient temperature reached its peak for the week in the high 70s.  Nevertheless, after a brief respite, he disappeared over the final rise toward Daugherty Kennels and was seen going away ahead at time.

It was a race defined by strong, independent, consistently-forward moves in the increasing heat of the afternoon, by quality finds on the edge of the course, and impeccable style on his birds.

Another Mai Tai Please (Ty) was on the first course in the 13th brace, paired with Hillbillie’s High Noon (Cowboy/Austin) on a cool, damp morning. Both dogs broke away hard, beginning on the left side but ultimately switching over to the right to take better advantage of the light southwesterly breeze. Cowboy definitely took a little more wrangling through the first section of the course, while Ty seemed comfortable cruising ahead. Coming through the second creek crossing, Ty was found standing at 15 on the creekside edge, Cowboy emerging and establishing an honor behind him. A bird was flushed over the lip of the creek bed, everything in order. Through the road crossing and out into the Davis bottom, Ty swung out around the creekside edge on the right, stopping at 25, Cowboy once more obliged to honor. For a second time, Cowboy proved a little reluctant to leave the location and his handler elected to pick him up. In the meantime, Ty powered through the remainder of the bottom and made his way through the creek crossing and out to the larger of the two copses of trees in the island field, moving fluidly through the cut and into the field below horse killer hill.

After climbing the hill, he moved out on the left side as the raw wind buffeted the gallery, and was found standing at 45 roughly 300 yards up the treeline, a pair of birds sent out from the windrow. Swinging across the slope below the deer stand, he crossed the course to the far edge of the field, coming successfully to a stop once more at 49. Dropping into the little vine loop, he worked the right side and disappeared into the small drainage 100 yards beyond the gap  and was found standing in a thicket at 54, the birds seen running uphill through the undergrowth. He powered through the final hill climb and finished out on the top of the hill. Ty had run a beautiful hour race, forward and searching — and on almost any other day would have worthily earned the winner’s mantle. Red’s win was a matter of degrees — perhaps literally. Ty had run in the cool of the morning, and his additional two finds had limited the extent to which he might have punched out front in the manner that Red had clearly demonstrated. His performance was a thing of beauty, nonetheless.

Judges: Sean Patrick Derrig and Bob Burchett


[One-Hour Heats] — 35 Vizslas

Winner—BANGERT’S RED BARON, 1659495, male, by C K Touchdown Guy—Heidi Go Seek Jones. Pat Bangert, owner; Brian Gingrich, handler.

Runner-Up—ANOTHER MAI TAI PLEASE, 1650217, male, by Wegler’s Crown Royal—Wegler’s Penny Lane. Charles & Nancy Browne, owners;  Charles Chadwell, handler.

Ladies Foot Race



Left to right - Race Winner Nancy Brown, 3rd place winner and spirit award winner Michelle Hess, 2nd place Carrie Syczylo, Justin Hess, Natalie Howard, and Allison Bell