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Result: Quail Championship Invitational

Location: Paduca, Kentucky

Post Date: Dec 18, 2018

Submitted By: John P. Russell

Quail Championship Invitational

Erin's Wild Justice Winner of the Quail Championship Invitational

The 2018 edition of the Quail Championship Invitational, the 55th running of the trial on the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area grounds near Grahamville, Ky., was a resounding success. Great dogs, talented handlers, favorable weather, and plentiful game made for a high quality trial -- one that will be recognized as one of the very best of the 2018-2019 season.

Under the guidance of West Kentucky Field Trial Club president and trial chairwoman, Mary Sue Schalk, the trial was conducted without flaw and enjoyed by the enthusiasts who gathered for the running November 24-26.

As is the tradition, the top eleven points-earners from the 2017-2018 qualification season were invited to join defending champion, Dunn's Tried'n True, to compete for the prestigious title. As is often the norm, some of the top point-earners declined to participate for a variety of reasons and were replaced by worthy individuals from the list of 84 points-earners. The identification of worthy participants is entirely without bias but made simply based upon the number of points earned through major circuit competition.

The field of competitors assembled for the trial was of high quality. Consisting of eleven pointer males and one setter male, the field had earned 37 major circuit placements during the qualifying season, earning a total of 8,876 points or 740 points per entrant. Included in the 37 placements were 13 championships including:

Quail Championship Invitational, Continental Open Championship, National Free-for-All Championship, All-America Prairie Championship, Mid-America Open Championship, Missouri Open Championship, Southwestern Championship, Southland Open Championship, National Pheasant Championship, United States Chicken Championship, Saskatchewan Open Chicken Championship, Southern Open Championship and Georgia Quail Championship.

Only seven handlers had entries in the trial. Andy Daugherty with four and Luke Eisenhart with three were handlers with multiple entries. Mike Hester was a first-time handler here. All four of Andy Daugherty's entries carried the Westfall kennel name, a record for the trial.

Judging the 55th renewal were Eddie Berendzen of Higbee, Mo., Jay Lewis of Easton, Mo., and Mark Livingston of Central City, Ia. Jay Lewis was a first-time arbiter at the trial, having previously judged the Kentucky Quail Classic twice. Mark Livingston returned from the 2017 Invitational, and Eddie Berendzen returned for a third stint from 2016 and 2017.

For the third consecutive year, completing the judicial panel became somewhat of a trial for Chairwoman Mary Sue Schalk. The original panel had included Rich Robertson of Payette, Ida., who had to withdraw due to conflicts with new work responsibilities. Brad Harter agreed to come as a replacement for Rich Robertson but just prior to the trial was severely injured while cutting trees in a woodlot and had to withdraw. He was replaced by Eddie Berendzen on Tuesday prior to the November 24 starting date. The willingness of Eddie to agree to judge so near to the starting date is certainly worthy of a great deal of appreciation.

Quail Championship Invitational

True Confidence Runner-Up in the Quail Championship Invitational

THE WINNERS AND OTHERS

The 55th renewal of the "dream trial" was won by Erin's Wild Justice, seven-year-old white and liver pointer male for owner Allen R. Linder of Livingston, Tenn., and handler Luke Eisenhart.

The three "jewels" of the Invitational are consistency, endurance, and all-age character. The dogs are judged on the entirety of their three-day, four-hour performance, attempting to ensure, insofar as possible, that the "luck of the draw" be eliminated and that a single "flashy" performance not prevail over one that demonstrates consistent quality.

Erin's Wild Justice met the standard of the trial in fine form. He found birds in all three of his appearances, one find the first day, two on Sunday, and two in the two-hour finals heat on Monday.

His effort was reminiscent of that of 2017, again finding birds in each of his efforts, displaying consistent form in his ground effort, and with consistent quality in his work around game.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of his performance was the consistency of his ground effort. Always forward, always bold and independent yet maintaining rapport with his handler. He completed cast after cast in the manner called for in the standard of the stake. He is a stylist on the ground and equally a stylist standing his game.

On the first day, he drew this year's most difficult course, scoring only once but a meritorious find adjacent to the plant paved road. His application could not be faulted, consistently going to the logical objectives with speed and style. The second day he ran the fourth course and scored early on the ridge on the first course across Big Bayou Creek, a "limb" find indeed. A subsequent find near halfway completed his bird work for the hour. In the two-hour final heat, he did not score in the first hour but scored late to prove that he had not lost focus during the marathon effort. He had only one unproductive, that at a known covey location, the birds perhaps simply refusing to fly. He required relocation only once on his productive stands and that of very brief duration.

Erin's Wild Justice results from a mating of Whippoorwill Wild Agin with Sparrowhawk. He appears in the 22nd generation from Rip Rap, with Miller's Chief, the common element in both the sire line and dam sire line.

Rip Rap

Fishel's Rip Rap

Fishel's Frank

John Proctor

Ferris' Jake

Muscle Shoals' Jake

Jake's Stylish Doctor

Lexington Jake

Lexington Village Boy

Lexington Atomic Boy

Major Lexington Boy

Riggins White Knight

Miller's Happy Choice

Miller's Charger

Miller's Chief

Miller's Protemus Pride

South Chief Bluduck

Miller's Showcase

Brush Country Spectre

Miller's Silver Bullett

Rock Acre Vindicator

Whippoorwill Wild Card

Rock Acre Buckwheat

Whippoorwill Wild Jack

Rock Acre Blackhawk

Whippoorwill Wild Agin--Sparrowhawk

Erin's Wild Justice

True Confidence was named runner-up as a result of his very consistent performance. On the first day he scored productively twice, with a third stand that proved to be unproductive, albeit at a known covey location. The second day, in the first brace, he had productive stands at 20 and 42, a divided find with Westfall's True Grit at 49, and an apparent back at time. His race both days was consistently forward and of sufficient magnitude.

Quail Championship Invitational

The Winners. From left: Tommy Davis with Erin's Wild Justice, and Luke Eisenhard with True Confidence.

In the two-hour finals, he scored at 34 and again at 1:08, a limb find, but could not contact game in the second half of the heat. He was again forward and consistent.

The difference between True Confidence and Erin's Wild Justice was perhaps the overall greater consistency and magnitude of Justice's ground effort.

The compelling story coming to the 2018 Invitational Championship was whether Dunn's Tried'n True would join House's Rain Cloud as the only three-time winners of the coveted title. Tried'n True had won the 2016 and 2017 Championships in dominating fashion, proving that he is, without question, exemplary of the type of individual that the trial seeks to celebrate.

As fate would have it, he drew the first course on the first day of competition and proceeded to "shoot the lights out," establishing himself as the dog to beat on the first day.

For the second day's competition, the consensus was that he need only to stay in contact for most of the brace with maybe one find to earn his ticket to the finals. The consensus was that about the only way to "stub his toe" would be to be lost early in the brace. Alas, that is exactly what transpired. Lost on the breakaway, he would have no opportunity to compete for the unique distinction of a three-time winner of the Invitational. His career is still young, however, and perhaps he will have additional opportunities going forward.

Quail Championship Invitational

Three generations of Russells - Grady, John, and Jonathan.

THE RUNNING -- DAY NO. 1

Saturday, November 24. Rain overnight Friday resulted in wet grounds greeting the contestants Saturday morning. The day began overcast with low clouds, heavy, moist air but mild temperature, about 51 , with a light breeze south-southwest breeze. About mid-morning the cloudy conditions began to wane with clearing skies, rising temperatures and wind from the south increasing some. By mid-afternoon the temperature was slightly above 60 .

Marques Armed Robber (Henry) and Dunn's Tried'n True (Eisenhart). Cast away at the scheduled 8:00 a. m. start time, both dogs quickly made the left turn through the wood lot then into the open field beyond. Robber was the first to regain contact, coming to the gallery on hilltop above the first bottom field. Robber showed along the right edge of the bottom corn field, making an intelligent cast to the front. Tried'n True not seen during this stretch. At the far end of the bottom as the gallery neared the creek crossing, a call of point was relayed by front marshal Crouse. Robber was standing prettily on far edge of bean field with a large covey quickly flushed directly in front, the dog stylish and intent throughout. By this point True had connected with Eisenhart and was proceeding forwardly. During the next portion of the course the dogs were mostly forward, True showing greater ambition, both with good speed and attractive motion. As the course swung eastward True was not under observation for a period. Robber made a nice swing up the right side of the course. Across the old road and beyond the bend to the south at 40, True was found pointing in weed strip adjacent to the course path, Robber backing. A nice find, the product of a strong cast to the front. Beyond the five-points creek crossing, both dogs cast along the right edge with point called for True at top of hill at 46, Robber to the right and beyond, not involved. True exhibited his customary style, demonstrating intensity, accurate location, and faultless manners. The birds were quickly flushed by Eisenhart completing an excellent piece of work. Both dogs were forward during this next section with point called by scout Davis at 56. True was standing facing into brushy thicket before moonlight hill gravel road, Robber stationed about 50 yards away facing the pointing dog. The birds were quickly flushed completing an excellent find and an exciting hour.

Westfall's River Ice (Daugherty) and Erin's Wild Justice (Eisenhart) were quickly up the slope and into the open country beyond the second course starting point, Ryan Westfall scouting for Andy Daugherty. Both made the difficult early horseshoe turn in good form into the portion of the course swing around large wood lot to the left. River Ice was the first to show, rejoining handler beyond gravel road. Justice showed ahead further down the course. During the north trending section to the iron gates road crossing, both dogs were forward. Justice exhibited excellent speed and style having an edge over River Ice. Nearing the culvert at 31, River Ice was standing pointing into honeysuckle tangle. Daugherty's flushing attemp disturbed only a rabbit and the dog was taken on without attempted relocation. Going up the ditch toward the plant, River Ice scored at 35 in thicket adjacent paved plant road. Justice was observed casting in course direction along the road edge. River Ice was stylish and intense throughout a somewhat extended flushing attempt that resulted in birds flushing from honeysuckle tangle. During this work Justice scored at 38 on covey located in feed strip along plant road. Both dogs finished well beyond this point but without further game contact. Justice continued a pattern of strong showy casts to the front, exhibiting boldness and strength having somewhat of an advantage in magnitude over River Ice.

Westfall's Black Thunder (Daugherty) and Touch's Blackout (Anderson) were away well early. Thunder is an attractive individual in motion with a smooth stride and natural tail action covering ground with ease. Blackout is slightly larger and equally attractive. Both dogs entered the field beyond the culvert with Blackout found buried in honeysuckle tangle on far side of the weedy field, Thunder showing beyond. The birds were in the thick tangle and reluctant to flush, preferring to run under the thick cover. Anderson had to work hard to show the birds to the satisfaction of Judge Lewis but was able to do so and shot fired, Blackout staunch throughout. Continuing on the course, both dogs were forward and searching. Beyond the pipe line turn, Thunder found game to the left of the course, a large covey flushed immediately in front of the stylish pointer. During the south trending portion of the course to the paved road crossing, Thunder impressed with his ground effort. Beyond the highway both dogs were standing about fifty yards apart for a clearly divided find. Both dogs continued to strong finishes.

Erin's Redrum (Derrig) and True Confidence (Eisenhart) were cast away on the first afternoon course. Both were shown in the bottom to the left. Beyond the creek crossing, Eisenhart demonstrated confidence in Confidence going forward across the road and up the muddy bottom. Derrig was riding more vigorously to show Redrum effectively. Back across the road, Confidence was shown to the left going forward, Redrum through the gap ahead then roading into a stylish point on birds located in weed strip. The birds quickly flushed exactly as indicated and shot fired at 17. Shortly after, at 20, Eisenhart called point for Confidence standing in ring of brush around oak tree adjacent to cinder road, the birds quickly flushed and shot fired. Across the bean field adjacent to the cinder road, Confidence scored at 23 on a covey on edge, the birds located precisely, the dog stylish and intent. Following this burst of activity, the dogs coursed through the next portion of the course, crossing the five points creek, the railroad track and the next open field until the thicket before the moonlight hill gravel road, Confidence pointing with Redrum backing. Again the birds were well located, the dog stylish and intent and all in order at the flush and shot. They finished across the creek with Confidence to the fore, Redrum behind for a spell but available at time.

Westfall's True Grit (Daugherty) and Funseek'n Hit Man (Daniels) cast away up the hill from the parking lot then right to the turn along Woodville Road. Both handlers rode with confidence. Shortly before the left turn to the north, Hit Man was seen rimming bean field to the left, True Grit shown to the right. Going north, both handlers rode with confidence, the dogs showing well to the fore, but with no game contact before the culvert crossing into plant vicinity. Across the culvert the dogs were not in view for a time until a call of point for both dogs well to the right at 48. Arriving at the location, True Grit was observed standing near old road bed, Hit Man behind honoring. Daugherty was able to disturb birds in brush beside old road bed, the dog stylish and intent for this work. The dogs were taken back along the old road bed back to the course at the plant corner where True Grit scored again at 55 adjacent to the paved plant road, Hit Man again backing. The birds were quickly flushed and shot fired. Following thisactivity both dogs continued to pickup in good order.

Westfall's Black Ace (Daugherty) disconnected from the breakaway and was not shown afterward. Ace apparently unable to re-connect with Daugherty returned to the breakaway location where he was later seen but could not be caught and secured. After requesting the retrieval unit, Daugherty located the dog near the breakaway location. He had apparently had an encounter with a vehicle but only suffered an abrasion without erious injury. The old adage holds true: "You cannot make a lost dog safe."

Quickmarksman's Tom Tekoa (Hester) had some difficulty adjusting to the unfamiliar country, behind for a spell approaching the culvert crossing. He was stylish and attractive in motion but his race generally lacked sufficient magnitude. He scored on the covey beyond the pipe line turn at 43, these the same birds found by Westfall's Black Thunder in the third brace. He then continued to finish in good order.

DAY NO. 2

The running began on Sunday under partly cloudy conditions, light southerly breezes with the temperature about 35 and rising. As the day progressed, the temperature rose to about 63 by mid-afternoon. Increasing wind velocity from the south to levels 10-15 mph suggested an impending weather change with some very light sprinkles experienced during the last braces.

Westfall's True Grit (Daugherty) and True Confidence (Eisenhart) was an excellent brace with plenty of action throughout. Following the breakaway at the customary starting point, the dogs traversed the opening section of the course in good order, both showing in pleasing manner well ahead. At 19, after the creek crossing, True Grit was pointing in treeline above the low water ford crossing. This stand proved to be unproductive following a brief flushing attempt by Daugherty.

As this was occurring, Confidence scored at 20 at far end of the field along the ridge. At 24 True Grit scored productively in cover adjacent to cinder road at the course turn toward the handicap fishing pond. Across the road and down the hill toward the five points creek crossing, Confidence scored at 42 on covey in honeysuckle tangle on edge of thicket, an excellent find. At the top of the slope beyond the five points creek crossing both dogs were standing in close proximity, both handlers firing at flush of birds, both dogs stylish and intent. Across the railroad track, at thicket before Moonlight Hill gravel road, at time both dogs were again standing. Confidence was on outside edge, True Grit some 15 yards inside the thicket. Eisenhart elected to take a back. Daugherty was able to disturb birds and shot over his charge.

Westfall's Black Ace had been disqualified the previous day when Daugherty requested the retrieval unit to locate the dog. Daniels showed Funseek'n Hit Man effectively, riding with confidence, the dog showing regularly to the fore. Hit Man was not able to score until reaching the area adjacent to the plant road beyond the culvert. He scored first at 44 on a covey adjacent to the plant road just prior to the corner, the dog tylish and intent, the birds located with precision, the flush and shot quickly accomplished. Following the horseshoe turn at the cemetery end, Hit Man scored on a covey in the edge of a thicket just to the right of the afternoon course riding path. This work was well done and completed the hour's work.

Quickmarksman's Tom Tekoa was unable to demonstrate sufficient rapport with Hester to justify continuing and was picked up at 30. Erin's Redrum (Derrig) did not display his customary drive and determination and worked comfortably for Derrig but not with a great magnitude of effort. He scored on a covey at 19 on edge beyond crossing from field behind land fill. He displayed good style and intensity for this work. After the pipe line turn, Redrum was observed standing before honeysuckle tangle adjacent to course path. Despite extended flushing attempt and relocation, nothing could be flushed and the dog was taken on. Beyond the fishing lake on edge above road, Redrum pointed. After a couple of adjustments, he was satisfied and Derrig was able to dismount and flush the covey for the stylish dog. This work was acceptable in all respects. Following this find, Redrum continued to a finish just beyond the highway crossing.

Erin's Wild Justice (Eisenhart) and Touch's Blackout (Anderson) broke away on the customary afternoon starting point. Both dogs were away well, Justice to the right into the bottom field, Blackout ahead. Justice apparently crossed Big Bayou Creek at the low water ford and cast boldly into the country beyond, found by scout Tommy Davis pointing on ridge above bottom on the morning course, the call of point coming at 9. At the same time, Blackout was found pointing to the left before afternoon course creek crossing, the birds quickly flushed and shot fired. The long ride to Justice's location proved to be fruitful as he scored a far-off limb find in good order. Back on course another simultaneous call came when both dogs were observed standing on edge of bean field beyond and adjacent to the cinder road. Justice was on far side and Blackout on the near side to the right of the course path. Eisenhart was able to quickly flush birds for Justice completing an excellent piece of work. Anderson was unable to disturb game for Blackout and an unproductive was scored. At 37, above five points creek crossing, Blackout scored on a covey in thicket edge, a stylish and well-mannered find. Through the remainder of the course the dogs went well, Justice displaying excellent boldness and strength in the manner desired for the standard of the trial. Blackout was also going in excellent form. At 55 Blackout scored on a covey at top of hill, a covey not seen before. At flush and shot Blackout made significant movement in the direction of the birds and was strongly cautioned by handler.

Marques Armed Robber (Henry) is a young dog with an attractive manner of going. He exhibited excellent speed, an attractive gait and natural tail action. He demonstrated good rapport with Henry through the majority of the course and scored at 48 on covey adjacent to plant road. At flush he displayed youthful exuberance, breaking and giving chase until stopped by handler, ending his effort. Westfall's River Ice went well until losing contact with Daugherty about halfway through the course. He was eventually counted out, later found off the area in the village of Grahamville and retrieved without harm.

Dunn's Tried'n True (Eisenhart) and Westfall's Black Thunder (Daugherty). After an excellent first day, the consensus in the gallery was that True need only to run a good race with maybe one find to punch his ticket for the final two hours. The one thing he could not do was be lost from the breakaway, but unfortunately that is exactly just what he did, disappearing from the breakaway and being found only through use of the tracking device, ending his quest for a third Invitational Championship. Black Thunder scored four times during the hour, at 23 on birds in heavy cover adjacent to the patrol road, at 30 immediately adjacent to course path beyond the Tom Word oak gap, at 40 on the coveybeyond the pipe line turn, and at time at course end adjacent to the gravel road. Only the covey near the pipe line had been seen previously, the dog's style and manners excellent on all of his finds, his race uniform and sufficient.

Following Sunday's running, in the customary manner, the callback dogs were identified in the clubhouse by Chairwoman Mary Sue Schalk for Monday's running. The callback was to consist of two braces: True Confidence with Westfall's Black Thunder; Erin's Wild Justice with Touch's Blackout.

THIRD DAY FINALS

A frontal passage during the early evening on Sunday was accompanied by showers, at times fairly heavy, a wind advisory with gusts approaching 40 mph, and falling temperature. Lingering cloudiness and temperature of 35 with strong west-northwest winds greeted the competitors on Monday morning. The conditions persisted with little temperature change and continuing strong winds throughout the four hours of running. A cold day but exciting.

The first two-hour course follows the No. 1 and No. 2 hour courses with the breakaway at the customary No. 1 course starting point behind the clubhouse.

True Confidence and Westfall's Black Thunder were away well with Black Thunder showing in the first corn field bottom field and Confidence on the hill to the right. Thunder scored on a covey at 10 on edge of the island thicket in the corn field bottom, this covey not previously found. Both dogs were going well in the early portion of the two-hour heat, Thunder showing on hillside ahead standing at 30. Although a likely looking place, despite a vigorous flushing attempt and relocation no birds could be flushed, the work scored as an unproductive. While this work was in progress, Confidence scored at 34 in small thicket just past turn at cinder road. The balance of the first morning course was traversed without further contact but as the creek crossing ending the first course was approached, a distant call of point was heard from the hill to the right of the course at 1:07. A lengthy ride was made to find Confidence pointing at top of hill, a limb find. The accurately located birds were quickly flushed for the mannerly dog, all in order. The transition to the second course came shortly into the second hour, and although the dogs continued hunting in good form, they were unable to contact additional game. Once again the format proved to be a test of strength and endurance, and although both competitors showed the strain of competing on three consecutive days, they met the endurance test admirably, Confidence with a small advantage during the closing portions of the two-hour heat.

The second two-hour course begins at the No. 3 course breakaway, follows the No. 3 course in its entirety then transitions to the first afternoon course. The No. 4 course is then followed to the vicinity of the railroad track crossing, then picks up the No. 2 morning course in reverse, traverses the five points creek crossing then generally follows course No. 2 in reverse until the finish.

Erin's Wild Justice and Touch's Blackout began the two-hour heat in good form, Justice demonstrating the boldness and jump of his first two outings. Blackout was going well and was the first to score facing into a downed tree and foxtail adjacent to the course path on the left. The birds were exactly located, quickly flushed, the dog stylish and mannerly throughout. Continuing on, the dogs continued to impress, Justice with the edge in ground application. At 49 across the highway, Blackout scored for a second time. On this stand he appeared to be looking down at a bird lying just in front of his stand. As Anderson went to flush, he flushed birds located beyond the location of Blackout's interest and the dog lunged to catch the bird in front of his stand ending his bid. Justice continued to impress with his ground work showing little effect of the marathon effort. At 1:02 Justice scored on birds located on hill before the afternoon crossing of Big Bayou Creek. His style and manners were excellent. Continuing on the afternoon course, Justice attempted to point birds adjacent to the cinder road. Despite a relocation effort, nothing could be flushed and the work was unproductive. In the loop beyond the five points crossing, Justice found birds at the top of the hill above the creek crossing on the return leg at 1:44. Once again the birds were exactly located, quickly flushed, the dog mannerly throughout. Justice completed the marathon heat in good form, impressing with his apparent strength.

Following the completion of the running, the field trial party gathered at the clubhouse for the announcement of the winners; champion, Erin's Wild Justice; runner-up, True Confidence.

As the congratulations to the winners were extended and pictures taken, time was available to reflect on the events and happenings of the three days of competition. This was an excellent trial, 42 finds in two and a half days, the "cream" rising to the top in the customary fashion. The Invitational features the most difficult qualification extant in the sport -- only the best performers each year can earn the chance to participate. In the same manner, it is the sternest and most difficult test of the all-age class. To win, the dog must exhibit endurance at the highest level, consistency, and all-age character throughout. To the know-ledgeable dog man, the Invitational is the most complete test available and the championship title is among the most coveted.

The 2018 edition lived up to the precepts of its inventors in all aspects. It was truly a "dream trial" and will be remembered as one of the very best if not the best events of the 2018-2019 field trial season.

Quail Championship Invitational

Cora Clary on her great horse Onyx.

Paducah, Ky., November 24

Judges: Eddie Berendzen, Jay Lewis

and Mark Livingston

QUAIL CHAMPIONSHIP INVITATIONAL [One-Hour Heats on Consecutive Days; Two-Hour Finals] -- 11 Pointers and 1 Setter

Winner--ERIN'S WILD JUSTICE, 1643384, pointer male, by Whippoorwill Wild Agin--Sparrowhawk. Allen R. Linder, owner; Luke Eisenhart, handler.

Runner-Up--TRUE CONFIDENCE, 1622365, pointer male, by Two Acre Bulldog--Bar P Anex. Frank & Jean LaNasa, owners; Luke Eisenhart. handler.