The Spring trials saw Ballyellen Colleen taking 4th spot in the Spring Glarryford Trial she had won in 2014 and the following week saw FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie securing 2nd spot at the Northern Ireland Pointer Club’s Spring Open at Slieveanorra with Gortinreagh Clio taking 4th place.
The next trip saw us visit Glenwherry for the Strabane and District Club’s Spring Open. Flyer was very unlucky not to figure – she had just drawn out and set when birds jumped a head of her – the judges deemed she had pressurised them. The day was very blustery, wild and cold and dogs had not been taking their chances. The judges ran FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie on with Ballydavid Starjet of the Kingdom and after a cast Eppie dropped on to point – birds broke a little further out and she took me straight to them. It was a classy find and secured the win for her.
I was judging the Ulster Irish Red Setter Club Open with Bill Connolly the following week and then we returned to Glenwherry where FTCh Ballyellen Cara was fourth – her first award since coming back from her recent maternity leave!
At the end of March we set off on our annual Spring visit to the Scottish Trials around the Tomatin and Grantown-on-Spey area. We had hoped to begin with a visit to our old friend Colin McGregor’s moor at Lochan where the Northern Counties hold their Spring Trial – but a very bad dose of the flu meant I had to pull out of the trial at the last moment. Reaching our base in Aviemore and getting some rest I headed for the Novice Stake being run by the Gordon Setter Association at Kylleachy. Despite being very under the weather, I was glad to win the stake with Tullycroman Isla.
A rest on Sunday and then the main week’s trials began with the Pointer Club of Scotland’s Trials at Cawdor. I was extremely pleased with the whole team – all 5 dogs I ran in the Open really pleased me, but this time it was my lack of stamina rather than their’s which flagged in the second round. Gortinreagh Clover was awarded a Certificate of Merit and the lovely new trophy presented by Greg Latham – a highland keeper with a great interest in English Setters and pointers for the the best English Setter at the meet.
The next Open was the Scottish Gundog Association’s Spring Trial at Lochindorb. English Setters were well represented as there were 7 Gortinreagh and Ballyellens running along with 6 from the Upperwood Kennel. The small second round was dominated with the English Setters and I was delighted to secure a 1, 2, 3 with FTCh Gortinreagh Flyer winning the stake, FTCh Ballyellen Cara taking 2nd and FTCh Ballyellen Cody taking third under judges Billy Darragh and Mark Adams.
The following day Tullycroman Isla was again named as top dog winning the Penebeck Quaich when awarded 1st in the SGA Novice.
The last Open of the week saw FTCh Ballyellen Cara taking 2nd place in the Scottish Field Trial Association’s Trial with an amazing run and some lovely dog work. I was really pleased with her performance – she had really returned to form after her pups in the Autumn. The week finished with the SFTA Novice and the in-form Tullycroman Isla scored again – winning her third trial of the week with a very steady performance on an incredibly blustery day. During the second round it was almost impossible to stand up such was the strength of the wind, so to have a steady find under these conditions was really excellent.
So another Spring season concluded very successfully.
Summer and Autumn 2015
The Summer circuit for me started with the Champion Stake at Bollihope. Dogs who had been competing on the English Circuit had nearly 3 weeks experience at this stage, whereas mine were arriving straight from Ireland. We had hoped to do the Puppy Derby, with IRSB Gortinreagh Venus and ESB Gortinreagh Ivory, but it had been cancelled due to heavy rain.
And so we headed for Bollihope. The judges were Billy Darragh and Dominic Goutorbe. On Day 1 my dogs could do little wrong. They all ran well and secured lovely finds on the big coveys of grouse. FTCh Ballyellen Cara was named most stylish dog on the first day and awarded the Ladies Trophy for this. Day 2 didn’t go quite so well and a few errors on the heavily populated grouse moor meant that I ended up with a diploma of Honour for FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie and then we were on our way to Scotland.
At the Pointer Club of Scotland trials at Dorback, conditions were blustery and so we worked lower ground than usual for the Trials. However there was a good supply of game and excellent open running ground. My debutante 10 month old Gortinreagh Ivory performed well in the Puppy Stake to secure a Certificate of Merit. In the Novice Stake I was please to take 1st place with Bill Connolly’s ESB Gortinreagh Flair and also 3rd with my IRSB puppy Gortinreagh Venus. Day 2 of the PCofS Trials saw FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie taking the 1st place.
Trials moved to Cawdor estate for the next few days for the Northern Counties Pointer and Setter Society Trials. The judges were Jon Kean and Jean Collins-Pitman. Gortinreagh Ivory featured again in the awards with a 4th placing. The Open Stake saw FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie once again taking the 1st place with some excellent running and a very clever find on a tucked in single to secure the award.
Glenlivet was the venue for the Scottish Gundog Association Trials. The judges were Colin Organ and Norman Morrice. I had a very satisfying Puppy Stake on the famous Gordon Flats, with IRSB Gortinreagh Venus taking the win, closely followed by the consistent Gortinreagh Ivory in runner-up position. I was pleased to see my friend Doug Collins take 3rd spot with Ivory’s sister ESB Gortinreagh Imp. The Gortinreagh success continued into the Novice Stake in the afternoon as I won the Stake with Bill Connolly’s ESB Gortinreagh Flair – her second win of the circuit and was placed second with IRSB Gortinreagh Venus. At the Open Stake on the following day, it was IntFTCh Ballyellen Cody who took the win with his sister FTCh Ballyellen Cara taking third spot.
From Glenlivet the action moved to Tillypronie and Gortinreagh Ivory continued her good form taking the top spot just in front of Doug Collin’s Gortinreagh Imp who was 2nd. It was Gortinreagh Gala who claimed the 1st prize in the Novice Stake ahead of kennel mate Gortinreagh Venus in 2nd.
And so it was home to begin the Irish Campaign. The first outing was to Galway for the Connaught FTA Open and the Puppy Derby. The dogs all ran well in Connaught but game was very scarce and we had no opportunities. I was very pleased with my pups, particularly Gortinreagh Venus who really opened up and produced one of her best runs to date – however no game was encountered. The stake was won on the only bird seen all day.
The Irish Championship was the next event and I was very happy with the way all the dogs ran on Day 1. FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie had an outstanding run but no game. IntFTCh Ballyellen Cody ran well and had a good find. Both ran well in the second round – Eppie had no game chance but won the award for best backing dog – with a nice back on her brace-mate’s false point. Cody was awarded 4th place.
The next weekend it was off to Dublin for the Irish Red and White Setter Club’s Open Stake. This was judged by Joe McGill, Tom O’Mahony and Lar Quinn. We were at Glencree and game was in good supply. I was very happy with the way the dogs went and was pleased to end up winning the stake with IntFTCh Ballyellen Cody, coming 2nd with his son FTCh Gortinreagh Excel and taking 3rd spot with FTCh Ballyellen Cara. It was a matter of great pride, to secure my second 1, 2, 3 placing of the year.
Pointer and Setter Trials take place in Ulster in September and October, so our first Autumn trial saw us gather at Glenwherry on 20th September when Michael Houston and Davy O’Neill took the book for the NI Pointer Club Open Stake. I was running my usual 5 but was delighted when my IRSB Gortinreagh Venus added an excellent run in the second round to a pacy first round, culminating in a magnificent find – pulling the scent from a great distance, drawing forward and setting. She worked very positively over a knoll and produced her covey of grouse with the confidence of an experienced dog. It is always nice to score with a puppy and her Open win whilst still a puppy meant that I have had the pleasure of winning Open Stakes with 3 successive generations of IRSB pups – Venus, her mother FTCh Gortinreagh Clancy and her grandmother FTCh Princess Nisha.
The following weekend saw us move to the pheasant ground at Craigs Moss, Glarryford for the NI Pointer Club Autumn Stake, when Carol Calvert and Robert Simpson were judging. There is always a good supply of challenging pheasant on this ground and it was the wily old campaigner – the 6 year old IntFTCh Ballyellen Cody who was named top dog in 1st. His daughter FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie was 3rd.
The next day saw us return to Glenwhery, this time The Brunt beat, where Ed Butler and Joe Dobbin took the books for the Ulster Gundog League Summer Open. There was a large entry and a great supply of game, as well as a few hares to spice things up. 1st place in the stake was awarded to Int FTCh Ballyellen Cody with the puppy IRSB Gortinreagh Venus taking 2nd spot, so close to being made up whilst still a baby.
The Saturday following took us to that tough North Antrim hill Slieveanorra – where a dog needs endless amounts of stamina and bravery to handle the heavy terrain. FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie made it look easy floating over the heather and gliding into a great find on the high ground on the extreme right hand side of the beat thus securing 1st place – her kennel mate Ballyellen Colleen secured the 3rd spot with some workmanlike running and a good find.
The day after took us to the predominantly partridge ground of Glennoo on the northern edge of the Monaghan hills. A dog has to be very switched on to handle the game here and IntFTCh Ballyellen Cody proved his credentials with 1st award. Again his sister Ballyellen Colleen took the 3rd place for me. This Ulster Irish Red Setter Club stake was judged by Declan O’Rourke and Joe McGill.
Father and daughter team Terry and Nicki Harris judged the Ulster Gundog League Open on our second visit to Glarryford this season. IntFTCh Ballyellen Cody had to be content with 3rd place on this occasion and leave it to his sister FTCh Ballyellen Cara to take the winner’s rewards in 1st – the whole Ballyellen threesome are amazingly accurate around game with style to burn and thankfully they are also passing it on to their offspring.
It was back to Glennoo on the Sunday for the Strabane & District Setter and Pointer Club Open. Int FTCh Ballyellen Cody took 3rd with IRSB Gortinreagh Venus 4th and ESB FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie securing a Certificate of Merit.
By now the Ulster season was drawing to a close, and we all made our way to the last Open Stake of the year – the Strabane & District Setter and Pointer Club Open at Glennoo. 2 A Panel Judges Declan O’Rourke and Carol Calvert were judges for the day. Again there was a good supply of game chances – many squandered by dogs taking on too much ground or not being sufficiently game chances, but it was nice to finish with a 1st for FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie. My good friend P J Peoples from Monaghan was second with his exciting young ES dog Castorrock Glen, Mark Adams secured third and my IRSB Gortinreagh Venus proved in her puppy year she could handle grouse, pheasant, partridge and snipe with equal ease by taking 4th place.
All in all, 2015 counts as a very consistent and pleasing year for the Gortinreagh and Ballyellen dogs.
Click on the link below to see the full list of the Kennel’s 2015 Awards: