American Field

Candy Kid’s Win of 1916 Chicken Championship Recalled

A Flashback

My Greatest Thrill in Field Trials
By Chesley H. Harris | Sep 25, 2021
Chesley H. Harris

[Prologue:  The American Field celebrated is 75th anniversary in February, 1949. A special issue dated February 26  of that year carried several special features.

Publisher Stewart J. Walpole wrote of The American Field's "Early History and Prominent Personalities" of the past 75 years. Handler Er M. Shelley provided an article entitled "Great Dogs of An Earlier Day."

Other trainer-handlers were also contributors, namely Jake Bishop who wrote of "Canada—Almost fifty Years Ago." Edward Farrior wrote "Looking Back," and R. K. "Bob"Armstrong penned "A Lifetime with Dogs".

Also in that issue was a feature by Chesley Harris reprinted here.]

ALL OF US who are interested in high-class bird dogs and in field trials, feel a sense of pride that the American Field is celebrating its Seventy-Fifth Anniversary. The Field and field trials began about the same time. The history of the two has been interwoven.

Since the days of Dr. N. Rowe, the Field has been promoting the highest type of dog, the class performer, and this adherence to an ideal has been of inestimable value in bringing about breed improvement. Not only the pointers of today but the setters also are better than when I started in the game. Now that may seem like a contradictory statement inasmuch as still think Candy Kid was about the best setter I’ve ever seen in action. What I mean to say is that there are more good dogs in competition and it’s really harder to win. Not that one didn’t have to show a good dog to win consistently thirty or so years ago.

I am honored to have been asked to contribute a little something to this Diamond Jubilee edition.

It might be of interest to tell of my greatest thrill in field trials. Likely many people would think that it was when one of the dogs handled by me won the National Championship or, maybe, the Free-for-All Championship. Both of these three-hour stakes are classic events and any breeder, owner or handler is tickled to death to win either of them.

Fortunately, I have had the great good luck to handle dogs which won the National at Grand Junction several times as well as the Free-for-All at various places on a number of occasions. Don’t for a moment conclude that I didn’t receive a genuine thrill from the races that these dogs ran to win these important stakes.

It has always been a source of interest to me to study the individual dogs, their traits, qualities, characteristics, personalities to note their strong points, to strengthen any little weakness that one might have. In my book, this is the secret of successful development and training of a top-flight bird dog. You have to know your dog, first of all, then experience helps in bringing him to the peak of his abilities.

My greatest thrill in field trials was when Candy Kid won first over the setter dog, Joe Muncie, in the All-America Chicken Championship at Denbigh, N. D., in September, 1916. It was at the end of my first summer on the prairies. I was “broke.” I had read recently about the golfer Ben Hogan and how a little money he'd won in a tournament helped him to go on playing in the professional circuit. Well, the $300.00 purse Candy Kid won for me in that All-America Chicken Championship made it possible for me to “survive.”

The late Jim Avent told me the night before the second series — “You had better take your little dog to bed and sleep with him tonight, as I’m going to beat hell out of him and you tomorrow.”

Dr. W. A. Bruette and O. E. Grecian were judging. After two hours and fifteen minutes in the second series, Joe Muncie was barely moving along behind the horses and the judges ordered both dogs up, declaring Candy Kid the winner.

When Candy Kid won the All-America Chicken Championship for the third time in 1918 he gained for his owner Carl E. Duffield permanent possession of the beautiful Dr. N. Rowe Memorial Cup. Candy Kid was the first dog in field trial history to win a championship three times—a most remarkable setter.

I recall that when Sport's Peerless Pride won the National Championship in 1939, paired in the second series with Norias Aeroflow, handled by me, when the race was over Dewey English asked me what I thought of his setter. I said, "The best I've seen Candy Kid." Maybe Candy Kid is the standard by which I judge all setters. And that wouldn't be a bad way . . .

I remember the All-America Chicken trials at Denbigh in 1916 starting at the end of August. There were 25 starters in the All-Age Stake which opened the program. This was followed by the Derby with about the same number of starters, and the Championship concluded the card. W. A. Bruette and the late O.E. Grecian of Kansas City, Missouri, mentioned earlier, were the judges of all three stakes.

In the All-Age, the great pointer stylist Lewis C Morris won first place after an exciting second series with Frank's Den. W. D. Gilchrist handled Lewis and Frank's Den was in Avent's string. I got third in the All-Age with Candy Kid, running a second series with Naponechee. Joe Muncie and Paliacho Jr. were also called back, but didn't get in the money. That third place win qualified Candy Kid for the Championship.

In that 1916 All-America Derby, three great pointers finished first, second and third. Comanche Rap, handled by Jim Avent, won first, with Royal Flush and Mary Montrose, handled by Bob Artstrong, second and third. J. J. Graham owned the three dogs at the time, all sold later in the season to William Ziegler, Jr. The record of Comanche Rap and Mary Montrose, the latter the first of the Triple National Champions (1917, ’19 and ’20), is familiar to nearly all field trial fans. I was lucky myself to win at Grand Junction three times (1922, ’23 and ’25), with Becky Broom Hill, Louis Lee Hagin's great pointer female.

Recalling more details of that 1916 Chicken Championship, there were nine starters and seven of these were setters. But in the field were Babblebrook Bob, Medford Eugene, Joe Muncie, Commissioner's Harry and the one, two dogs of the All-Age, Lewis C Morris and Frank's Den.

[Five days later, at Towner, North Dakota in the Continental trials, Lewis C Morris won first in a field of nineteen starters, Candy Kid earned second and Commissioner's Harry was third. Mary Montrose won the Derby, and Lewis C Morris won the club's concluding Championship Subscription stake.]

Candy Kid and Joe Muncie had an edge in the eyes of the judges in the 1916 All-America Chicken Championship, but not a conclusive margin. The two were called back to run it off. Many didn't think Candy Kid was conditioned to go the endurance route. He proved what a great heart he possessed, for in the second series the dogs, as it has been said, were kept down two hours and fifteen minutes. Competition began at 7:45 that morning and it was ten o'clock when the judges ordered the dogs up.

It's a good long time ago, but if memory serves correctly, Candy Kid had five covey finds in his first series, the heats of which were one and one-half hours.  His work was all clean, positive, nothing at all to criticize. But I still think many thought Joe Muncie would take his measure in the run-off.

In the second series, Candy Kid clearly outbirded Joe Muncie. That win—and don't forget the $300 purse, which wasn't considered so modest on those pre-inflation days—helped me keep going in the field trial game. I've been happy about it ever since . . .

In just about a third of a century of close connection with the field trial game, it has been a pleasure and privilege to meet sincere sportsman in all parts of the the continent. There has been a lot of traveling in the course of the years, a great many dogs put down on a wide variety of field trial grounds, and win, lose of get a divided third, it has been interesting throughout.

The winners I have brought out for such patrons as Louis Lee Hagin, Jacob France, Walter C. Teagle and many others who have placed their dogs in my charge has proven a source of gratification . . . but in my memory that win by Candy Kid still stands out.

[Editor's note: The newly honored Field Hall of Fame electees for 2021 have been announced. In the foregoing feature, a number of Dogs noted here have been recognized with this distinction, namely: Candy Kid in 1977, Becky Broomhill in 1960, and Mary Montrose in 1954. And Persons: James Avent (1956), Dr. Wm. A. Bruette (1963),  Carl Duffield (1954), and Ches Harris (1958).]

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