Judges Report: Intermediate Stakes: Autumn 2014: Moniaive. There were 4 hounds entered but unfortunately Joy and Graham had to withdraw theirs due to injury. The areas to be hunted are normally fairly wet but the prolonged good weather had made them unusually dry.  There had been a little rain in the previous night but any moisture rapidly disappeared under the sunshine. Little or no ground wind. Temperature around 10 °C. Line 1: Mr. Nick Sutcliffe with Sanft Dawn (Restricted).  The hound had just turned 3 on the day of hunting and looked in great condition. It started its line in clumps of reeds and proceeded at a brisk walking pace.  The line was essentially a big loop on rough moorland. All went well until we passed a small wooded patch infested by the dreaded sheep. Initially Jackie and I thought they were large white boulders…but rocks don’t have legs!   The hound showed some interest and I was surprised that Nick allowed the hound to dwell in such bad company for as long as he did. It took 20 minutes to cover around 100 yards. Eventually Nick pushed on and followed the line, as drawn on the map, quite accurately. There was some conflicting information from the line walker as he believed he had substantially undercut the last third of the line. But, his GPS recorded the distance walked was the required 2½ miles.  I gave the hound the benefit of the doubt as it did maintain pace and direction as per the original map. The finish and ID were ample, with the hound wagging its tail on finding the walker. Time, 1 hour 18 minutes.    Hound No 2: Mr. Kenny Sands with Marksbury Panacea ( Restricted). This line went half way up the hill side and back down to the same road. A slowish start, with the hound having to thread its way through heather and stone. It was noticeable that the Kenny wanted to get on whilst the hound wanted to dwell. Gradually they made their way correctly to a gate from where the line swung left handed. Regretfully the duo took a more direct route thereby hunting three hundred yards to right of the walkers track and missing out the loop.
 
Eventually the pair intersected the line as it swung away to the right. Despite passing over the line it appeared both participants had lost their enthusiasm but eventually drifted to a wall where the line walker had headed back down the hill to the finish. Unfortunately there was little evidence the hound picking up the scent. I had to leave, but Jackie stayed with them and “nudged” hound and handler to the finish. This hound had a meteoric start to her hunting career so it was disappointing to see them having to struggle so hard. Perhaps more patience at the beginning of the line would have helped? Line No 3: Mr. Nick Sutcliffe with Ch. Cammonstone Jubilant Sanft: Jubilant hunted well from the flags but for some reason stopped and then returned to the flags.  Nick retrieved him and we continued.  Passing correctly through a gateway we proceeded upward. Half way up the hill the ground dropped away and by the time Jackie and I were at the top of the ridge there was no sign of hound or handler. There was a dead ground ahead and Nick and Jubilant had followed this trough which was 90 degrees from the line.  We held our ground hoping that Nick would spot us and return to the line. Not a chance!  With half a mile distance between us, it was obvious the two had decided to find the end of the line by the most direct route.   And so they did! As I intimated earlier the ground underfoot was very dry and gave up very little scent. It was I’m sure disappointing for all who participated.   There was only one award and that was for Nick and Sanft Dawn who received a Certificate of Merit. My thanks to the ABB for their invitation to judge.  And my thanks to the Assistant Judge, Jackie Wallace, for her acute observations and humour. Duncan Robertson.
photos Krist’l Bal