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Result: United States Open Championship

Location: Greensboro, Alabama

Post Date: Feb 24, 2022

Submitted By: Ruthann Epp


From left: Lefty Henry, Carl Owens, Tom Shenker with Marques Armed Robber, Gary Hill, judge, Bob Dubose, judge, Haily Moreland with Touch's Gallatin Fire, Alex Rickert, Mark McLean, Jerry Raynor.
Marques Armed Robber, six-year-old liver pointer male, handled by Robert (Lefty) Henry and owned by John and Susan Ivester of Huntersville, N. C., is the 2021 United States Open Champion. He was in the first brace of the trial and was fast and forward with big casts, two finds and a back.

John Ivester purchased "Sam" from Jim Pendergest of Lexington, Ky., at the end of his Derby year with nine placements. His sire is Reloaded, his dam, Dialed In. His two littermates, Pendy's Good Grace and Ascension, are also champions and have also qualified for the National Championship.

Armed Robber won the Southern Championship as a first year all-age then went on to win the Region 14 Amateur All-Age Championship on the Canadian prairies and the National Free-for-All Championship on these same grounds last year.

The runner-up was Touch's Gallatin Fire, handled by Mark McLean and owned by Alex and Brianna Rickert of Bozeman, Mont. Alex made the trip to Alabama to watch his dogs run at this open venue of the M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area for the U. S. and the Free-for-All to follow.

Touch's Gallatin Fire made some big swings, had two finds including a strong finish with a find after pick-up. Alex purchased Touch's Gallatin Fire and Touch's Malcom Story as a package deal--all or nothing. Ike Todd started them and once Ike started winning with them, Alex was convinced that they needed to be run on the major circuit not as amateur trial dogs in Montana. Hence Mark McLean entered the picture. Touch's Gallatin Fire is out of House's Ring of Fire and Touch's Sandy. Touch's Gallatin Fire is also qualified for the National.

Judges for this running were Gary Hill of Dawson, Ga., and Bob Dubose of Baker, Fla. Both have been involved with field trialing since at least the 1970s and both have developed and won with multiple dogs. Hill spent most of his time trialing and training in Oklahoma and other western states but has recently moved to Georgia.

Dubose has and continues to have a strong presence in the Southeast. He has become a sort of dog and horse whisperer--he likes a challenge. Hill made and donated beautiful metal sculptured lamps of a dog pointing with birds flying as prizes for the owners of the winners.

The weather was very pleasant with dryer ground conditions than normal and good birdwork for participants to enjoy. A new culvert was installed in Germain Creek which was a welcome sight. One year so much water was running through the crossing that short horses had to take a detour.

Thanks to The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alabama State Lands Division and the Forever Wild Land Trust Program that the M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Area is available for residents from Alabama, other states and beyond to continue enjoying the field trial sport at a time when many such venues are disappearing. This area is a recreational area for numerous field trialing events plus youth and handicapped hunting.

Bill Mason managed the grounds, planting food plots, mowing, organizing events, and whatever else required to make for successful activities. He retired the end of 2021 and we have welcomed Brae Buckner to the new position and look forward to working with her.

Purina sponsored this nationally recognized event again this year for which the club is very grateful and the winners grateful for the bags of Performance dog food they receive. Greg Blair, rep for Purina has gone above and beyond to listen to the needs of trainers and hosts of trials. As times and communication methods change, we hope to involve more individuals in our sport from young children to octogenarians and older--it is a multi-generational sport.

Thanks to John Henry Kitchens for manning the dog wagon again this year and Carol Gatlin for managing the "white house" kitchen for delicious and warm breakfasts and lunches every day.


Touch's Folsom Blues (McLean) and Marques Armed Robber (Henry) were unsnapped from the horse reins at 8 a.m. near the red barn on a cool bright morning. Robber was standing at the top of the first hill within three minutes with birds flushed in front of him and all in order. At 8 Folsom Blues had a find above the Warden's Pond and Armed Robber got there in time to back. The two pointers edged the Warden's pasture and as the gallery entered Bodoc Pasture the dogs were topping the big hill above Turkey Lake. At 27 the call of point was heard from the front. As the gallery topped the rise, there was Robber standing motionless along a ditchline. Henry stepped in front, birds lifted, and the gun echoed in the crisp air for find No. 2. Within two minutes another call of point was heard from McLean's scout, but it proved to be an opossum. Folsom Blues took a wrong turn and never made it back. Armed Robber took several edges and was quickly out of sight, then he would be pointed out and then gone again. He was fast and strong throughout as was his finish.

Late Hit (Shenker) and Sandwood Creek (Raynor) took the course across the road. There is a 90 turn within a couple of minutes of the breakaway and Sandwood Creek didn't make it and never returned. Late Hit made some good casts but didn't make the reach he normally does so Shenker picked up before time.

Como Rain (Hurdle) and Touch's Breakaway Fred (McLean) started at the county road gate. They both were fast and made big casts. Rain took a right turn at the multiple dams and didn't make it back. Fred is always fun to watch but went birdless twice and ended his bid.

Touch's Malcolm Story (McLean) and Erin's Outlawed (Hurdle) started after lunch. Outlawed made some big swings in the first pasture and point was called at 10 minutes for him with Story backing. There was a breach of manners, so Hurdle took his harness. Malcolm Story made a pretty cast around the right side and across the front fence line of the big green field. Then at 56 a hat was raised against the blue sky. The gallery raced across the big bottom of Black Cow Pasture to see Story standing in the edge of a feed strip near the line of cedars with birds flushed for him. He finished taking the right-hand edge of the field.

Southern Nation (Henry) and Touch's Mega Mike (McLean) were pointed out a time or two and then disappeared.

Como Thunder (Hurdle) and Lester's Georgia Time (McLean) made some nice moves. Thunder rimmed Taylor Field and both made a big cast in New Ground that was completed with each having a good find at VIP pond. Both dogs then made a big cast around Show Bottom.

Touch's Joy Ride (McLean) and Dragonfly (Hughes) started the second morning, with Dragonfly standing tall on point just above the breakaway; Joy Ride was just as stylish on a back. Dragonfly had three more stylish finds spaced throughout with the last one on cedar hill at 53. He looked illuminated standing out along the edge of the feed strip. He had a strong finish.

Dakota Nation (Hurdle) with owner Ted Roach in the gallery made some big casts and had to be directed back to the course before getting too far ahead and Hurdle asking for the tracking device. Game Ice (Raynor) had a find at 11 minutes along one of the treelined ditches. He made some nice casts but slowed in the big power line field.

Touch's Gallatin Fire (McLean) and CS Code (Hurdle) broke away strong. At less than 2 minutes, Hurdle's scout called point for Code in the cedars. Birds flew as Hurdle stepped in front of his dog for a stylish find. The dogs were pointed out far ahead beyond the pond dam. As we entered the big green field called Taylor field, Fire was pointed out at the far right and edged the entire field and disappeared out the front. Both dogs popped out in New Ground after another big cast. At 38 point was called for both dogs near the VIP Pond; both were stylish with bird's flushed in front of each of them. Code got off course near the end. Fire was far reaching the entire time and after making the detour around the Germain Creek crossing with only minutes to go, Fire quickly covered the left edge of the dove field and disappeared. Time was called and several minutes later, McLean called point for Gallatin in the feed strip at the top of the hill. Birds were flushed in front of him to end the brace with owner Alex Rickert there to enjoy the moment.

Ascension (Hurdle) had Ted Roach and Morgan Brewer riding in the gallery for him. At 35 minutes, Steve called point along the line between Bodoc and Black Bottom Pasture. After a relocation, birds were pinned, and Hurdle flushed with all in order. At 55 Ascension was edging the far line of Black Cow Pasture going up near the cedar line when he swapped ends pointing. The gallery cantered across the field and saw Hurdle flush the birds and fire with all in order before finishing the hour. Touch's White Water (McLean) took a big cast and disappeared over the hill overlooking Turkey Lake and never returned.

Woodville's Yukon Cornelius (McLean) and Cold Water Thunder (Hurdle) were the last brace. Carl Owens was in the gallery for his tri-color setter, Cornelius. At 8 Hurdle called point for the liver female with the title of National Champion in front of her name. Co-owner David Russell was in the gallery giving her and Steve support. Doug Arthur stopped in at the beginning of the trial as well. After climbing through the briars, Hurdle finally made some birds fly with all in order. Cold Water Thunder rimmed Taylor Field before taking the chute through the Wild Woods. Cornelius was seen at the top of the hill as the gallery turned into New Ground. Thunder was standing beautifully styled in a feed strip after the turn at the top at 34. Birds flushed with all in order. McLean was looking for his dog and found Hurdle's dog buried up in the briars under the "big tree" 5 minutes later. Cornelius had disappeared. McLean finally asked for the receiver; his dog was under that tree too but so buried it took the receiver to find him. Cold Water Thunder took Gum Springs Bottom and finished the hour between the ponds with three finds to her credit.

Greensboro, Ala., December 6
Judges: Bob Dubose and Gary Hill
UNITED STATES OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP [One-Hour Heats] -- 21 Pointers and 1 Setter
Winner--MARQUES ARMED ROBBER, 1659975, pointer male, by Reloaded--Dialed In. John Ivester, Jr., owner; Robert Henry, handler.
Runner-Up--TOUCH'S GALLATIN FIRE, 1675102, pointer male, by House's Ring of Fire--Touch's Sandy. Alex Rickert, owner; Mark McLean, handler.