American Field

Qualified Starters for 2018 Running

A National Championship Almanac

By Stephen Bell and Amy Spencer | Feb 07, 2018

Any sporting pastime as old as ours is rich in history and statistics. Every year there will be the question: “Has it ever happened before?” or at least “When was the last time . . . ?”

This year there will be three returning National Champions, which is not unprecedented. One need only look back to the year 2010 when four National Champions returned. They were Miller’s On Line, Shell Creek Coin, Whippoorwill Wild Agin and Lester’s Snowatch. All four had long, storied careers here but were unable to capture that elusive second win.

Only four times in the past when two previous champions were braced together. Perhaps we will see a brace of two champions again this year.

Looking to capture their second win this year are Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo, Miller’s Dialing In and Whippoorwill Justified, the 2017, 2015 and 2016

National Champions, respectively. They are all still young dogs, the latter two having won in their rookie year. This will be the first year that all three have been at the “big dance” together since Miller’s Dialing In did not re-qualify for the 2017 renewal. But it is Miller’s Dialing In’s return that makes for something special.

Both Miller’s Dialing In and Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo are owned and co-owned (with David Thompson of Edmonton, Ky.) and handled by Gary Lester and it has been quite awhile since one handler has returned with two previous National Champions. Tommy Davis was the last to do this in 1987, returning as the handler with El Sauz Doll (winner in 1983) and Bluff City Mike (the 1986 champion), yet Tommy won it that year with Whippoorwill’s Rebel, repeating with Rebel in 1989.

Before that one needs to look all the way back to the 1943 running when Clyde Morton brought his pair of returning champions, Ariel and Luminary.

Interesting to note that they, too, shared the same owner, A. G. C. “Andy” Sage. In 1943, Clyde and Ariel won the second of Ariel’s three National Championship titles. Gary Lester must hope that history repeats itself, or at least rhymes.

It might not be a rhyme but rather a rhythm for this renewal’s most veteran contestant. Miller’s Happy Jack will be running for his ninth year. This, too, is not unprecedented; the record is ten returns, but it does make him a member of a rather special club. Only four other dogs have ever reached this milestone of “durability”, a term coined by the late editor of The American Field, William F. Brown, who reported scores of National Championship runnings. They were: Miller’s Crossbow, Safari, Quicksilver Pink and Miller’s On Line.

With the return of Miller’s Dialing In, the father-son-grandson trio of Miller’s Happy Jack’s get runs again this year. This trio first competed together back in 2015. They are Dunn’s Tried’N True, his sire Miller’s Dialing In, and the grand-sire Miller’s Happy Jack.

A set of father, son and grandson contestants at the National Championship has only occurred once before, in 2011 with Miller’s On Line, Phillips White Twist and Phillips Time Line. The Miller’s Happy Jack family is the only trio which has repeated in subsequent years, now for the third time.

Touch’s Game Point, another son of Miller’s Happy Jack, will also join in the family reunion. It is worthy to note the past performances of these dogs. All four of them have completed the three-hour run at Ames, not once but twice before, each. This speaks well of both the endurance and longevity of their bloodline.

The 2017-2018 Purina Derby Award winner, Matt and Jim Pedgergest’s Pendy’s Good Grace, represents still another generation here, a great-grandchild of Miller’s Happy Jack, a grand-daughter of Miller’s Dialing In. Though this comes from her dam, Dialed In, and therefore the maternal half of her pedigree. She will be a rookie contestant this year.

Still another of Miller’s Happy Jack’s sons, Miller’s Creative Cause, will not be present in this year’s draw. Last year he almost won it, having more bird work than the winner, but alas he has not had a re-qualifying placement this season. He has been working with a new handler, and is now on Doug Ray’s string.

Another pair of contestants that will be sorely missed are the recently deceased Just Irresistible and Eisenhower.

Just Irresistible, Coloradoan Mary Devos’ “Stud Muffin”, should be well remembered as this would have been his fifth year to compete. However, this would have been Eisenhower’s rookie run, having obtained his second qualifying win last spring at the North Carolina Quail Championship. “Ike” began knocking on the door in 2013 when he earned his first qualifying win at the Hell Creek Open. Our condolences to their owners and handlers.

This year there is a stranger knocking at the door. Something different to watch out for, as a German Shorthaired pointer male now has a qualifying win. Brandon Blum’s B M B’s Free Ride got his first win at the 2016 California Bird Dog Championship. Brandon, from Acton, Cal., has been boldly campaigning “Lewey” since, and they may get here.

Two other dogs that have qualified and are not expected to attend the Grand Junction classic. They are amateurs’ dogs: Gary Winall’s Mohawk Mill Pirate and Todd Schaaf’s Gator Done. This is the fourth year that Mohawk Mill Pirate has qualified, the first for Gator Done.

The top sire for this year’s contestants is Whippoorwill Wild Agin, with five dogs directly sired by him:

Dazzling, Skyfall, Whippoorwill Blue Blood, Whippoorwill Justified and Whippoorwill Wild Assault. Dazzling, Skyfall, Whippoorwill Blue Blood and Whippoorwill Justified share the same dam, Sparkles, from repeat breedings, making her this year’s top dam.

Six other stud dogs have each sired two contestants. Only one other bitch, Erin’s Wild Rose, has whelped two contestants, both of the same litter.

The extended family of Whippoorwill Wild Agin numbers ten, including the five mentioned above, four grandsons, and a great-granddaughter.

The four grandsons are: Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo and Whippoorwill Foto Op, which are by Ransom; Oakspring Big Time Warrior, which is by Oakspring Big Time; and Lone Tree’s Showbiz, which is by Wiggins River Wild. Both Ransom and Oakspring Big Time are littermates to Whippoorwill Blue Blood, the first litter of the Whippoorwill Wild Agin-Sparkles knick.

Coldwater Thunder is the great-granddaughter. She is by Coldwater Warrior, by Whippoorwill War Dance, a son of Whippoorwill Wild Agin, and all have been previous contestants here.

There are eight contestants from the extended family of Miller’s Date Line, which includes Miller’s Happy Jack and his clan mentioned above. There are two grandsons: Lester’s Jazz Man, he by Lester’s Snowatch, and Touch’s Adams County, which is by House’s Line Up. Miller’s Happy Jack is a grandson of House’s Line Up.

Others of the Date Line clan include House’s Buckwheat Hawk, which is by House’s White Hawk, a son of House’s Line Up. Pendy’s Good Grace’s sire, Reloaded, is also a son of House’s Line Up.

Since Whippoorwill Wild Agin and Miller’s Date Line are both descendants of Miller’s Silver Bullett, we can add their sums to his count but would still be short of his total. There are three more contestants that fall into the family of Miller’s Silver Bullett, making his total 21.

These three are: Phillips Field Line by R W Scarface (he by Wind N Rain, a son of Miller’s Silver Bullett); Shadow’s Next Exit, by Exit Lane by Exit Wound, a son of Cypress Gunpowder, making Shadow’s Next Exit a four-times great grandson of Miller’s Silver Bullett; and Shadow’s White Warrior, he by In The Shadow.

To track this line further back to include all of the descendants of Riggins White Knight we have to add a few more. There are four contestants that belong to Rock Acre Blackhawk and one from Elhew Fibber McGee (Cassique’s Boss). Making 26 the total for the Riggins White Knight clan, and further, his ancestor, Lexington Jake.

Rock Acre Blackhawk’s descendants include two direct sons, Daniels Creek Whitehawk and Mega Blackhawk’s Progeny; a grandson, Westfall’s River Ice (a son of Westfall’s Black Ice); and a great-grandson, Strut Nation (a son of Game Strut, which was by Strut).

The next major family to discuss is that of Tarheel John — Seaview Rex to Addition’s Go Boy. There are eight contestants from this family and all are descendants of Erin’s Bad River, seven grandsons and one great-grandson.

Westfall’s True Grit is a rookie contestant and the first of Erin’s Brave Heart’s offspring to qualify. Erin’s Muddy River and Shadow’s Full Throttle are by Erin’s Stoney River. The littermate contestants, Erin’s Longmire and Erin’s Redrum, are by Erin’s Whiskey River, Maeve Derrig’s well remembered “durable” contestant here in the past. Their dam is Erin’s Wild Rose; she also produced Erin’s Brave Heart, a former contestant here so her score in the top producing dams list is now three contestants.

Cole Train and Touch’s White Knight are by Lance’s Last Knight, and rookie contestant Touch’s Mega Mike is by a son of Lance’s Last Knight, House’s Ring of Fire.

A side note here: Both Pendy’s Good Grace and Touch’s Mega Mike qualified this year with placements in Derby Championships. At the time of this writing, we have not been able to determine if this is the first time that two Derbies qualifying has occurred. They are not, however, the youngest contestants. That distinction belongs to Westfall’s True Grit; he qualified with two back-to-back championship wins (the Border International and the Mid-America) as a first-year all-age dog in late summer on the prairies.

The other clans from the pointer family tree all have representative contestants this year. The Fast Delivery —“Rebel” clan has Dominator’s Rebel Heir and True Confidence; and Game Bo comes from the Manitoba Rap-Evolution line.

The Air Pilot clan has three from three branches divided many generations ago. One contestant, Salem’s Annie Oakley, comes down from Gunsmoke through Sir Lancelot, her grandsire; and two contestants come down from Paladin’s Royal Flush and that is where their similarity ends. Dominator’s Dotted Line traces back through Fiddler, and Sleepless In Sacramento tracks back through Yazstremski.

“Enough of the pointers already” the longhair aficionados may say! There are three setter contestants this year.

The veteran setter contestant is Stardust Chaz, returning for his fourth year. He and his half-sister, Prodigy’s Bonfire, were little known when they first qualified back in 2015, now their lineage is well recognized and the “Kermicle Brothers’” line. These dogs go back to Tekoa Mountain Sunrise. Chaz is the only setter contestant to have previously completed a three-hour run here.

Another from the Tekoa Mountain Sunrise lineage is the rookie contestant Quickmarksman’s Tom Tekoa. This five-year-old captured his second qualifying win recently at the Georgia Open Championship. His owner, Larry Earls, has bred several generations of his pedigree.

And finally Erin’s Hidden Shamrock has Grouse Ridge John’s ancestry, though he does show some Tekoa Mountain Sunrise blood elsewhere in his pedigree. Sean Derrig is his breeder-owner-handler and they return for a second year, having had a very good season, winning one championship and taking two further runners-up.

We conclude with the usual disclaimer: this report was prepared in advance of the nominations and drawing. Not all dogs discussed may run and there may still be another to qualify late. To all: Good luck!

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