American Field

Three Nominees

Highly Deserving Candidates

By John P. Russell | Jul 15, 2021
Henry Weil

Bowling Green, Ky. — I am pleased to have the opportunity to present to the field trial community two individuals and one dog for consideration for the Field Trial Hall of Fame.

Election to the Field Trial Hall of Fame is based on more than simple notoriety, but first and foremost upon contribution to the sport. In the case of the individuals and dog that I present to you in this endorsement, their contributions are clearly well deserving of recognition.

First is Mr. Henry Weil of Paducah, Ky.  Mr. Weil was a scion of the Weil family of Paducah, a family prominent in the political and social scene of the West Kentucky region. Among the contributions of the family and Henry was the construction of the Irvin S. Cobb Hotel in 1929, for many years the most notable and opulent facility of its kind in the western portion of the state.

Henry had an early interest in bird dogs and field trials; indeed, he spent part of his honeymoon in 1955 riding in the Continental Championship and was a regular attendee at the event.

In 1956, he was a leading figure with Arthur Curtis and J. D. Boss (both Hall of Fame honorees) in the effort to obtain a lease from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to conduct a field trial on land owned by the AEC. After that initial trial, the West Kentucky sportsmen undertook efforts that ultimately lead to the formation of the West Kentucky Field Trial Refuge and ultimately the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area.

Notable among the efforts was eliciting the support of the two United States Senators from Kentucky, John Sherman Cooper and Thruston B. Morton, for transfer of land near the AEC property from the General Services Administration to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. This accomplishment almost certainly would not have happened without the influence of Mr. Weil.

As many should acknowledge, the efforts and influence that brought an important venue for major trials over the last more than sixty years is an accomplishment worthy of recognition.

But the story does not end there. Henry Weil supported dogs for competition in major trials with John Gates for a number of years. Notable among the dogs he campaigned were Snow Storm, Dixie Melody, Social Climber, and most notably Ch. Susan Peters, a Hall of Fame honoree.

His interest in major trials and association with John Gates led to an effort to bring an open all-age trial to the West Kentucky grounds. In 1960, the West Kentucky Field Trial Club, of which Henry was a founder and director, hosted the initial running of the Kentucky Quail Classic, a trial that has been a fixture of the open all-age major trial circuit since that time. Again, Mr. Weil was a major influence in the creation and early success of the trial.

In 1964, again through his association with John Gates, Henry Weil was instrumental in the effort that led to the renaissance of the Quail Championship as the Quail Championship Invitational. Since its inception in 1964, the Invitational has continued as one of the most prestigious trials of the sport. Indeed, if “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” the influence of the Invitational is evident from the availability of “invitationals” patterned after the original in nearly all of the divisions of the bird dog field trial sport.

Mr. Weil not only was instrumental in the renaissance of the trial, but he served as the trial's chairman for the first fifteen years of its history at Paducah. As the first chairman, Henry was responsible for the early and consistent success that ensured the trial would assume a place among the most important events of the sport. Indeed, his leadership established a high standard of integrity that has guided the conduct of the trial for the subsequent decades until the present.

I would suggest to you that serving as a principal in the formation of a major venue and two major trials is a contribution to the sport that very few in the history of the sport can claim.

As a final thought, all of the principals in the formation of the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area, the West Kentucky Field Trial Club, the Kentucky Quail Classic, and the Quail Championship Invitational with the exception of Mr. Henry Weil are Hall of Fame honorees. It is well past time to correct that omission.

The second individual that I present to you is Mr. Dan Bonaguidi of Des Plaines, Ill. For individuals, contribution to the sport may take several forms — club official. judge, owner, breeder, handler, patron and/or some combination of all. In Dan Bonaguidi’s case, his major contributions are through his breeding program, ownership, and patronage.

Dan is perhaps best known through the contribution of his breeding program through the influence of the dogs carrying the Fiddler moniker. Dan produced and brought before the public a number of individuals including Fiddler, Fiddler’s Pride, Fiddler’s Bo, Fiddler’s D, and Fiddler’s Pride’s Iris. Fiddler and Fiddler’s Pride are both Hall of Fame honorees.

Perhaps more significantly is the contribution of Dan’s breeding program through the influence of his champions. The Fiddler and Fiddler’s Pride influence can be seen in the pedigrees of dogs in all levels of the field trial sport. Fiddler directly produced 295 puppies that included 97 winners earning 762 placements with six championships. Fiddler’s Pride produced 362 registered puppies including 85 winners with 462 placements and five championships. It can be easily understood that the influence of these two individuals alone is substantial. Extending beyond the first generation, the influence of the Bonaguidi breeding program is quite an important contribution to the sport.

Dan Bonaguidi owned and campaigned dogs of the major all-age circuit for many years. He was always cheerful and gracious regardless of the outcome of the competition and supported the sport in all aspects, among them by his long and supportive affiliation with the Northern States Association and its sponsorship of the United States Chicken Championship at Solon Springs, Wis.

The dog I believe best deserves support for the Hall of Fame is House’s Rain Cloud which meets the criteria in both performance and production. His record as a performer shows 37 all-age placements with six championships. He won championships on the prairies (Border International Chicken Championship, 1995), the Midwest (Missouri Open Championship, 1998, and Quail Championship Invitational, 1996, 1997, 1998), and the South (Alabama Open Championship, 2000).

Although his complete record is impressive, what makes Rain Cloud’s record truly distinctive is his three consecutive championships at the Quail Championship Invitational!

Nine dogs have won multiple championships of the Invitational including Wrapup, Barshoe Buzzsaw, Fiddler’s Pride, Rebel Wrangler, Miller’s Silver Bullett, House’s Rain Cloud, Miller’s True Spirit, Lester’s Absolute, and Dunn’s Tried'N True — truly a who’s who of the major all-age circuit. House’s Rain Cloud is the only member of this group to accomplish the feat of three Invitational Championships. Rain Cloud competed five times at the Invitational, twice as a qualifier and three times as the defending champion, an impressive record of consistency.

As a producer, House’s Rain Cloud was impressive. He produced 262 registered puppies that included 74 individuals winning placements primarily in all-age competition. His winning offspring won a total of 387 placements with six championships. Perhaps the most notable of Rain Cloud’s get was House’s Hiplain Drifter, a 44-time winner with four championships.

Certainly House’s Rain Cloud's record as a performer and producer is sufficient for serious consideration for the Field Trial Hall of Fame. His record of three Invitational Championships is truly distinctive — likely no other individual of comparable distinction is without Hall of Fame recognition.

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