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A 2022 National Championship Almanac


Copyright by Stephen H. ’Steeple’ Bell

"There are heroes and then there are legends, heroes get remembered, but legends never die."

This year's almanac is dedicated to Bill Allen who has recently passed from this earth. Bill was one of the last paid employee field trial reporters for The American Field. His literary talent was immeasurable. He made you believe that every dog was the equal of the mythical hero, and was never shy of using a classical allegory to do so. Bill's descriptions of field trial incidents, moments captured in time, had no equal. He once described a lost dog as "a wisp of smoke on the horizon". Still another setter bitch's style was "as charming as a noose". His treatise "Class!" put into words that mysterious essence of a field trial dog as no other had ever been able. Good Bye Bill. This scribe will be forever in debt for your help and inspiration.

Hoyle Eaton was a legend. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate a natural talent such as Hoyle had for training dogs. Hoyle won his first field trial placement with a puppy he had bred himself, at the Dixie Puppy Classic of 1960. That pup was Riggins White Knight and a year later he was running that pup at the National Championship, as a derby no less and making the other handlers sit tall in their saddles to watch and want one of those pups for themselves. Hoyle would return in 1968 to win the title with Bud. They would remain best friends for sixteen years. Hoyle would win the National Championship three more times, with Red Water Rex in 1969, Miller's White Cloud in 1976, and Rex's Cherokee Jake in 1978. They were all his best friends, too. Anyone who ever met Hoyle was freely given the same advice, “the dog has to think of you as his best friend...” Hoyle passed away this year, and I'm sure his friends were waiting for him.

It is a sad duty for this scribe to be the one to announce the death of the legendary dog, Miller's Happy Jack. He was five times a champion and nine times a runner-up. He qualified for and ran at the National Championship for nine consecutive years, only the fifth dog to have ever done so. He was the sire of five dogs that were National Championship contestants: Touch's Game Point, Miller's Creative Cause, Hall of Fame and Purina award winner Valiant, National Champion Miller's Dialing In, and Lowrider Frank (who is running in this year's competition). He had two National Champion grandsons, Dunn's Tried N True and Miller's Speed Dial. And beyond all of those accomplishments, he remained a lovable clown who would wear sunglasses and hats. I am proud to have shaken his hand.

Last but not least, Dr. Jack Huffman was a legend, too. He is the breeder on record for five National Champions: Bluff City Mike, Whippoorwill's Rebel, Dunn's Fearless Bud, Whippoorwill Wild Card, and Whippoorwill Wild Agin. His legacy is still being written as the leading sireline for this year's national championship contestants comes from his Whippoorwill Wild Agin, who so far has been the sire of thirteen contestants to date and tied in fourth place in the list of all-time greatest sires here.

This year's contestants from the sire line of Whippoorwill Wild Agin are: two sons, Whippoorwill Forever Wild and Whippoorwill Justified; three grandsons and a grand-daughter, Lester's Shockwave, Lester's Storm Surge, and Miss Stylin Sue (by Ransom) and Stash the Cash (by Skyfall); two great-grands, Coldwater Thunder and Lester's Bossman. That makes eight out of the twenty-five contestants, roughly one third, and notice that two of them have already won here before.

The next most populous sire line for this year's contestants comes from Erin's Bad River with six; one grandson, Westfall's True Grit, three great-grandsons, Touch's Fire Away, Touch's Malcolm Story, and Touch's Gallatin Fire, and two great-great-grandsons, Dream Chaser and Hendrix's Touch Up.

Of the remaining contestants there are four of the Miller’s white dogs and three Rebels: one down from Evolution and two down from Rockacre Blackhawk. And there is a setter.

His three contestants make this year's top sire Ransom. He has now been the sire of seven contestants, a notable number which places him 13th in the list of all-time greatest pointer sires. The top dam position is shared three ways between an aunt and her niece, Sparkles and House's Wild Bess Again, and Beane's Line Dancer, each with two contestants this year.

There are ten rookie contestants this year which may seem a high percentage, but don't be fooled because a couple of them were actually last year's rookies who for some reason or another did not run and have since re-qualified to run for their first time.

I will finish this article with a few simple trivia questions. Who is more likely to win?

1)        A pointer or a setter?
2)        A male or a female?
3)        A rookie contestant or a veteran?

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