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Hobart Ames Memorial Classic


Winners: (Front) Corey Rhinehart with Caladen’s Yukon Cornelius and Ike Todd with Touch’s Grey Street (Rear) Randy Anderson, Chris Weatherly, Raines Jordan, Pat Bryan, Charlie Frank Bryan, Matt Cochran, William Smith, Joe Thompson, Kerry Kimmery, Judges Ed Tillson and Tom Milam, Aubrey Green, Ryan Braddock and Dr. Rick Carlisle

All Age winners: (Front) Nick Thompson with Whippoorwill Justified, Tiffany Genre with Valiant, Dustin Kee, and Corey Rhinehart with Coldwater Thunder (Rear) Billy Blackwell, Larry Huffman, Dr. J D Huffman, Piper Huffman, Matt Cochran, Pat Bryan, Jay McKenzie, Charlie Frank Bryan, Randy Anderson, Otis Ozier, Judges Tom Milam and Ed Tillson, Steve Hurdle and Dr. Rick Carlisle
By Jim Atchison

Fifty-six contenders gathered at Ames Plantation for the 66th running of the Hobart Ames Memorial Classic which was contested over the National Championship courses January 14-18.  The Open All-Age Classic drew 30 entries and the Open Derby Stake attracted 26.  Whippoorwill Justified, owned by Ronnie Spears and handled by Larry Huffman, was the All-Age winner, followed by Valiant in second place and Coldwater Thunder in third.  Valiant’s owner, Jay McKenzie was in the saddle as Valiant, under the whistle of Randy Anderson, earned the placement. Doug Arthur and Rachel Blackwell, the owners of Coldwater Thunder, were on the Plantation to watch her work for Steve Hurdle.

Ike Todd handled the first and third place Derby winners which were Caladen’s Yukon Cornelius, owned by Carl Owens, and Touch’s Grey Street, owned by Keith Wright.  Second place in the Derby stake was awarded to Ransom’s Jack Flash, owned by Billy Blackwell and handled by Steve Hurdle. Blackwell rode to watch Flash and surely reminisced of the mountain top experience he had on Ames Plantation 23 years ago as he campaigned his own Warhoot Rogue to win the National Championship. 

Tom Milam from Ross, Texas and Ed Tillson from Wichita Falls, Texas judged both the All-Age and Derby competitions.  Judge Milam was accompanied by his wife, Linda, and Judge Tillson was accompanied by his wife, Jessica.  Both judges, well known on the Brittany circuit, were outstanding, both as judges and as amiable company throughout the Classic.  Their services and their commitment to the sport of field trialing were appreciated.

Dr. Rick Carlisle, Chris Weatherly, Ryan Braddock, William Smith, and several others of the Plantation staff worked many hours throughout the week to ensure that every detail of the running went smoothly and that guests on the plantation were comfortable and well cared for. From the time of the Saturday night drawing, which Dr. Carlisle conducted as Secretary/Treasurer of the Ames Amateur Field Trial Association, assisted by Kay Carlisle, and in the presence of the Association President Bobby McAlexander, Vice President Charles F. Bryan, and Director Chris Weatherly, those named above seldom slowed.  In addition to the activities of each day, the Carlisles, the Weatherlys, and the Smiths fed and entertained the judges, reporter, and their wives each night. The guests of Ames Plantation left at the end of the week with tremendous appreciation for the dedication and commitment of those had been their hosts throughout the week.

On several occasions throughout the week Dr. Carlisle voiced appreciation to the Trustees of the Ames Foundation for permitting the Plantation to be used for the running.  The Trustees include Mr. Oliver Spalding, Mr. Robert H. Frey, Ms. Augusta Haydock, and Ms. Dian Quinn.  Ms. Quinn represents Bank of America, N.A.  He always expressed appreciation to the judges and reporter, as well as Purina for their continuing generous sponsorship.  Ryan Braddock, Chris Weatherly, and William Smith were recognized as both marshals in the field and also as those who cared for the many horses used each day during the Classic. Joe Thomson handled the dog wagon daily and Aubrey Green headed the security efforts at each road crossing.  Aubrey Green also handed out sausage and biscuits at the end of the first hour each morning.

Those warm treats were provided by the First Baptist Church of Somerville, where Aubrey has been a member for over 60 years.  Warm lunches were served each day in the Rhea Building by Tom Stewart who owns the Southern Eatery in nearby Holly Springs, Mississippi.

The Wayne Tate Memorial Steak Dinner was hosted again by the Bank of Fayette County and Mrs. Pat McKnight.  Dr. Carlisle recognized Mrs. Pat Bryan at the dinner and then introduced Mr. and Mrs. Rube Rhea, Jr. and Scott Rhea who were present representing the Bank. Mrs. McKnight was in Florida and therefore unable to attend.  Those sponsors received a much- deserved round of applause for continuing to host the annual event for the enjoyment of owners, handlers, club members, and invited guests.

Weather during the week was relatively nice.  Compared to January weather conditions at this time in several recent years, the weather was actually, outstanding.  Morning temperatures were usually in the low to mid 30s and warmed some during the day.  There was one day of sunshine and one of intermittent rain, with the others being mostly cloudy, but not uncomfortable.

Whippoorwill Justified won the All-Age stake with a strong forward race in the seventh brace.  He had finds at 32, on the east side of Turner Lake, and again at 59 on the north bank of the lake on the Mary Scott Loop.  Called “Patch,” the 2016 National Champion, owned by Ronnie Spears and handled by Larry Huffman, showed great style both as he ran and stood on game.  He demonstrated extraordinary self-control while standing on the edge of Mary Scott Lake.  Canadian geese were swimming on the lake so the first thought of many was whether Patch was pointing the geese.  Then the winner’s self-control was demonstrated as the geese flew from the water noisily honking. However, Huffman walked in front of his dog and immediately flushed a single, just as he had without delay flushed the covey found earlier in the brace.  In Larry Huffman’s normal dog handling style, he rode in front of the judges continuously throughout the hour while Patch, always to the front, ran the course edges well and dug into cover appropriately.  Huffman’s confidence in the dog and the performances of both man and dog demonstrated the rapport and talent that have made them a winning team many times during recent years.

Jay McKenzie arrived later than planned at Ames because of terrible weather in Kansas City following the Chiefs 31-13 victory over the Colts. Yet he was in the saddle Wednesday morning to watch Valiant, handled by Randy Anderson, win second place in the field of 28 Pointers and two Setters.  Both Valiant and his brace mate, Coldwater Stoner, failed to negotiate the 90 degree turn necessary to stay on course and cross Buford Ellington Road in the first few minutes on the first hour morning course.  However, Anderson found Valiant pointed far to the north and called point at about 13.  Valiant’s style was excellent even after the long wait involved as a judge, the reporter, and a small number of the gallery cantered to the find. When Anderson dismounted and walked in front of the dog, birds were flushed immediately.  Valiant then finished the hour responsively producing good forward moves and a nice finish.

Coldwater Thunder placed third for Steve Hurdle.  Her owners, Doug Arthur and Rachel Blackwell were nearby as she performed and earned earned her placement.  Thunder had a nice find at 24 and looked good as Hurdle flushed birds at the bottom of the hill entering Turkey Bottom.  She ran a nice ground race and finished the hour well to earn the judges’ approval. 

Hush Money, owned by Jay McKenzie and handled by Randy Anderson, and Game Bo, owned by Dr. Fred Corder and handled by Steve Hurdle, were paired in the first brace on Monday morning.  The early morning temperature was 34 and changed only a few degrees throughout the cloudy day.  After crossing Ellington Road at 11 Game Bo continued west and was not seen again within the allotted 20 minutes, so Hurdle got his tracker.  Hush Money had a find at 18 south of the Morgan field and almost due west of the field trial barns, the finished the hour but had no more birds.

Touch’s Spaceman, owned by Matt Griffith and handled by Anderson, was braced with Las Animas Fancy, owned by Dale Bush and handled by Larry Huffman, in the second brace.  Fancy pointed a large covey which Huffman easily flushed at 10 but was picked up before the end of the hour.  Spaceman had an unproductive stand at 37 and Anderson picked him up after his relocation effort was unsuccessful.

Ric Peterson owned both Touch’s Blackout (Anderson) and Whippoorwill Mayhem (Huffman) that competed in brace three.  Anderson got his tracker at 48 and Mayhem finished the hour but found no birds.

Shearjoy’s Unforgiven, owned and handled by Betty Shearouse, and Stardust Chaz, both Endlish Setters, were loosed as brace four started at 12:45 pm.  Chaz, owned by Bob and Sarina Craig, John Sayre, and Scott Kermicle, was handled by Steve Hurdle.  Chaz had a lengthy absence before the end of the hour and Hurdle got his tracker at 57.  Shearjoy’s Unforgiven had a find at 19 on the loop that is negotiated before crossing Ames Road and ran a really good forward race for the remainder of the hour, but had only the one find.

Touch’s Adams County, owned by Ric Peterson and handled by Anderson, and Southern Cross Bandilla, owned by Edwin Gott and handled by Hurdle, went next in brace five.Anderson got his tracker at 18.  Bandilla had an unproductive at 20 soon after making the 90 degree turn at the Dairy Unit.  Hurdle picked up before the end of the hour.

Aberdeen’s Paid in Full (Matt Griffith/Randy Anderson) and Coldwater Odyssey, owned by Debra and Andrew Agnew and handled by Weldon Bennett, were together in the sixth brace.  Bennett asked for his tracker at 20 and Anderson picked his dog up at the same time.

Tuesday started with clouds and the temperature at 37.  Sun appeared in the afternoon but the temperature changed very little. 

Motorcity Rock Star, owned by Paul Tutro and handled by Steve Hurdle competed in the seventh brace, with the winner, Whippoorwill Justified as his brace mate.  Hurdle picked Rock Star up at 22 when the pair crossed Turner Road.

Button Up, owned by Julie Roach with Hurdle handling was braced with Lester’s Jazz Man, owned by Dan Henley with Anderson handling.  Both dogs were gone from the break away but reappeared at about 19 in the Morgan field near Ellington Road.  Jazz Man was pointed and Anderson flushed birds from a terrace.  Afterward Jaxx Man made some big casts but, in the end, both handlers got their trackers before the end of the eighth brace.

Next, Matt Cochran, the owner and handler of Whippoorwill Forever Wild, and Larry Smith, the owner and handler of SF Saltwater, released their dogs in brace nine.  Forever Wild soon went left and was feared to be on Rube Scott Road, so Cochran got his tracker and went in pursuit.  Saltwater had no birds in the first 50 minutes and Smith got his tracker at that time, near Ellington Road.

After lunch Misty Morn Masked Man, owned and handled by Joey McAlexander, was paired with Coldwater Spectre, owned by Gary McKibben and handled by Bennett.  The pair had what appeared to be a divided find at 23 but Bennett elected not to attempt to flush and McAlexander flushed a covey from dense cockleburs. Before the end of the hour McAlexander got his tracker thinking that his dog had gone backward into a bottom already traversed earlier in the hour. Bennett’s dog hunted throughout the hour but was not readily located when time was called.  However, he was located and back to finish satisfactorily at about 1:09.

Game Sport, owned and handled by Earl Connolly, competed next, paired with Coldwater Thunder.  Game Sport had no birds in the first 24 minutes and Connolly elected to pick up at that time.

Whippoorwill Wild Assault, owned by Jim and Stephanie Bickers and handled by Huffman, and Rebel Dreamer, owned and handled by David Williams were the last to go on Tuesday afternoon’s brace 12.  Dreamer became lost and Williams asked for his tracker at 20.  Huffman picked Wild Assault up at the same time, so the afternoon braces ended at 3:20 pm, allowing some spare time before the Wayne Tate Memorial Steak Dinner stated at 5:00.

Wednesday morning started clear and cold.  The temperature was in the low 20s when Coldwater Stoner, handled by Weldon Bennett for Dr. Lee Bennett, was released, paired with the second-place winner Valiant.  As mentioned earlier, both dogs failed to successfully turn in order to stay on course and cross Ellington Road.  Valiant was found pointed but Bennett did not locate Stoner for sometime and they did not return to the front.

In the 14th brace, Larry Smith released SF Stetson and Larry Huffman released Whippoorwill Blue Blood, owned by Keith Wright.  Stetson had a find at 13, west of the Avent House.  Blue Blood was lost and Huffman got his tracker at 17.  Stetson finished the hour with an unproductive at 59 but had no more birds.

The last of the 30 All-Age dogs to compete were Rebel Maiden, owned and handled by David Williams and Blackhawk’s Diana, owned by Larry Esterline and handled by Steve Hurdle. Rebel Maiden found a huge covey of birds at 2, almost immediately after breaking away at Rube Scott Road.  She ran a good race and was nice to watch for the remainder of the hour.  Even so, both dogs finished the hour but no additional birds were found, thus ending the first part of the Classic just in time for lunch on Wednesday.

The Derby Stake proved to be excellent!  In fact, in many instances the derbies found more birds than the All-Age dogs and the derbies found birds that were never found by the older dogs.  Each of the three winners had two finds, and the winner, plus most of the other derby contenders, demonstrated they had excellent All-Age potential.

The Derby Classic was won by Caladen’s Yukon Cornelius, an English Setter owned by Carl Owens and handled by Ike Todd.  Cornelius had two finds, the first at 7 and another at 23.  His brace mate, owned by David Williams backed the second find.  The young Setter did everything right.  He ran an excellent hour-long race and was so fast and light while running that he almost appeared to be floating.  In addition, his style on birds was impressive.  Cornelius performance made the judges’ decision easy.

The second-place winner was Ransom’s Jack Flash, owned by Billy Blackwell and handled by Steve Hurdle.  Jack required quite a bit of handling but ran a fast and big race, with two finds.  The finds were at 15 and 49 and his All-Age potential showed.

In addition to handling the first-place winner, Ike Todd also had the third-place winner.  Third place was awarded to Touch’s Grey Street, owned by Keith Wright.  Grey Street had finds at 37 and at 69.  Nice style and intelligence were apparent throughout the performance in the first brace of the derby competition.  After time was called, Todd searched for his dog; found dug in and pointed, only upon Todd’s second pass of the place where the birds were then easily moved.

Excellent dogs, fantastic judges, and favorable weather; together with the incomparable spirit, hospitality, and atmosphere extended by Ames Plantation made the 66th renewal of the Hobart Ames Memorial Classic.  Dr. Carlisle’s remarks flowed easily in closing remarks as he acknowledged and thanked the trustees, judges, owners, handlers, sponsors, club members, workers, and all whose contributions had made the week a very good one.

Otis Ozier’s horse fell Thursday afternoon, January 17, causing him to be unable to move after the fall.  The Hardeman County Rescue Squad used ATVs to move him to an awaiting ambulance, which transported him to the trauma unit of Regional One Health in Memphis, commonly called “The Med.”  Doctors there determined there were no broken vertebrae, but pressure on Otis’ spinal cord should be relieved by surgery.  The surgery was performed January 21st and declared successful. 

Otis Ozier has been enthusiastically field trialing for many , with a particular fondness and appreciation for Ames Plantation.  No estimate of the time needed for recovery from this accident can be made.  However, all signs are positive and recovery is anticipated.  Both Otis and his family appreciate the efforts of Ames personnel, friends, the rescue squad, and all involved with his care.  Please remember Otis Ozier and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

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