American Field

Crown’s Black Ice Wins 2019 Renewal; Dragonfly is Runner-Up

National Amateur Free-for-All Championship

By Morgan Brewer | May 15, 2019
The Winners’ Circle. From left: Christy Swearingen, Tracy Swearingen with granddaughter Loretta Cook; Brian Sanchez, Bo Brewer with Crown’s Black Ice, Morgan Brewer, Brandy Gilmore with Dragonfly, Jim Hughes, Rhonda Hughes, Darron Hendley, Alan Atkins with Top Qualifier Conway Twitty, Jinger Atkins, and Judges Burke Hendrix and Jonathan Burch.

Union Springs, Ala. — The National Amateur Free-for-All Championship commenced its acclaimed field trial on its customary date February 22 on the magnificent Sedgefields Plantation in Union Springs, Ala.

The Free-for-All is among the most popular field trials in America and is held on the best grounds in America. This esteemed trial would not be possible without the generosity of Raymond and Kathryn Harbert. They offer their pristine bird sanctuary to the field trial community year after year and because of them the tradition remains alive.

The Free-for-All would not be an annual success without the board of directors, as well as Jason Howard, Bill Lee, Harrison Lee and Chance Kelly. They work year-round to prepare these elegant grounds and their efforts never disappoint.

And the running would not go without a hitch if it wasn’t for an experienced dog wagon driver. Mr. Kenneth Newman and Mr. Charles Klinck kept the running going smoothly as well as providing refreshments for participants. Words cannot express the appreciation of our barn helper Marcelleno who made sure our animals were taken care of and was always willing to lend a helping hand.

A delicious breakfast was served daily, prepared by two fantastic ladies sponsored by the Tourism Council of Bullock County. There are a surplus of businesses, field trialers, and well-wishers that make donations to the Tourism Council to pay for all of the food, hiring the lovely ladies, as well as the welcome signs and banners in town.

The nightly festivities kicked off on Friday evening with the dance and draw down hosted by the Union Springs Country Club. David and Ginny Allen do an extraordinary job running the Country Club and serve the finest food in Bullock County.

The steak dinner and dance hosted by Raymond and Kathryn Harbert was Saturday evening. The steaks that were prepared were absolutely scrumptious and the fixings were phenomenal. Culinary experts Joe Moorer and Robert Moorer manned the grill and the only word to describe the steaks is perfection.

The cocktail party of the year was on Sunday evening hosted by Miss Bootie Smitherman. She has been hosting this party for decades and it is one of the participant favorites. She is the epitome of southern hospitality and her menu is as fine as they come.

The friends party was held Monday evening. Hunter and Addie Smith opened their home for the third year in a row to host this splendid event. The food was once again remarkable and the hosts have never been more gracious. Catherine and Jimmy Bassett, Beverly and Andy Callaway, Chris and Pete Del Collo, Maureen and Kevin Joyce, Heather and Charles Klinck, Sue Ellen and Tom Lanier, Renita and Tommy Main, Colleen and Frank Rutland, Brooke and Brian Sanchez, Addie and Hunter Smith, Sandra and Jim Smith, Shirley and Joe Varner, and Laura and Winston Way were all hosts of the party and a wonderful time was had by all.

The last social event was the owner-handler party Tuesday evening. This dinner celebrates the hard work and dedication it takes to prepare your dog for this prestigious trial. This sport would become extinct if it wasn’t for the owners. This party was hosted by the National Amateur Free-for-All Field Trial and sponsored by AmeriFirst Bank.

Sponsors for this extravaganza were Purina, Garmin, AFTCA, Gibson’s Furniture Gifts and Accessories, and AmeriFirst Bank. Purina donates four bags of dog food to the champion, three bags of dog food to the runner-up and two bags of dog food to the top qualifying dog. Garmin donates a tracking collar to the champion as well as the runner-up. Gibson’s Furniture and Gifts and Accessories donate the gifts for the judges and the reporter. There can never be enough thanks for the generosity of the sponsors.

Judges are never easy to find for this renowned trial. It is very hard to find judges who can donate their time to look at all the canine athletes. Jonathan Burch and Burke Hendrix of Holly Springs, Miss., took on the task and to say they did an excellent job would be an understatement. They rode hard, were very attentive and gave each handler an opportunity to show their dog. They have been dubbed “The Mississippi Heat” by some of the board members and it has been said that this Free-for-All is one to go in the books. I thoroughly enjoyed riding with them and seeing their enthusiasm for the sport.


Opening day was 67° and overcast for the first brace — Miller’s Handsome Ransom, owned and handled by Allen Linder, and Meadowwood’s Fast Break, owned and handled by Ted Roach. Ransom had a clean find at 11 and was picked up at 40 after pointing a pack of wild hogs. Fast Break had a stylish find at 11 and a front running race.

Little White Lies (Eli Richardson) and Erin’s Rebel Rum (Mike Moses). Richardson asked for the retrieval device at 12, and Moses got his at 14.

Ray Pinson requested the retrieval unit at 18 for Class Act Express. Dubose’s Biggie (Bobby Dubose) had an unproductive at 9 after a lengthy relocation and was picked up at 33.

Rester’s Amazing Grace (Cecil Rester) had an unproductive at 35. Great River Mackenzie (Claudia McNamee) finished the brace birdless.

Bad Prairie Storm Force (Quintin Wiseman) and Erin’s War Creek (Linder). It was 82° at breakaway. Wiseman picked up at 44. Linder asked for the retrieval unit at 37.

One Day Frost (Lane Hodges) had a clean bird contact at 31. Kendal Hills Dawson Creek (Roger McPherson) had a clean bird contact at 25.

Pinson’s Imagine That (Pinson) and Pineywoods Bellaire (Darron Hendley and Renee Peek/Darron Hendley) came to the line for the 7th brace. It was 65° with 67 people in the gallery. There was no bird work during this brace but both dogs finished.

Great River Survivor (Brian Sanchez) had one perfect find at 14 and an unproductive after a lengthy relocation at 41. The retrieval unit was called for at 19 for Thomas Adirondack Turbo (Jim Thomas).

Flatwoods Iron Lay (Joe Bruner) and Neely’s Paint The Town (Linder). Bruner picked up at 19. Linder asked for the retrieval unit at 15.

Miller’s Unbridled Forever (Neil Walker and Brian Sanchez/B. Sanchez) laid down a great performance earning his spot in the callback with one picture perfect big covey find at 15. Lester’s King Pin (Lance Servais) didn’t have any bird work but finished the brace.

Waybetter Billy Jack (Tom Brigman) finished the brace but didn’t have any bird work. Miller’s Bring The Heat (Jack and Fran Miller/Jack Miller) had three stylish finds at 16, 19 and 39.

American Express Lane (Brian Peterson) had a beautiful find at 37 and a strong race which earned him a spot in the callback. Native Lucky Boy (Bill Harkins) had a find at 32 and was ordered up at 37 for failing to back.

It was 60° on the third morning when Lester’s Top Recruit (Servais) and Sedgefields Shadow Rises (Sedgefields Plantation/Hunter McDuffie) came to the line for No. 13. This was a great brace. Both dogs earned spots in the callback with their great performances. Recruit had three stylish finds at 18, 21 and 28. Rises had a strong front running race with a find at 22 and a back at 28.

Bill Owen was handed the retrieval unit at 33 for Northwoods Charles. Dubose asked for the retrieval unit at 27 for Dubose’s Daddy Boy.

Burl Hicks’ Flatout Mac and Chris Catanzarite’s Backcountry Tornado were in the 15th brace. Hicks asked for the retrieval device at 27. Tornado had an unproductive at 19 and the retrieval device was requested at 32.

McRee’s Glory B (Pat McPherson) was a bye dog in the 16th brace. Bee was ordered up at 15 for failing to be steady on game.

It was 66° after lunch on the third day for the 17th brace — last year’ runner-up Sugarknoll Bushwacker (Pete Del Collo) and Phillips Wind Line (Pinson). Bushwacker had a find at 10, a back at 14 and was ordered up at 35 for moving after the flush. Wind Line earned his spot in the callback after having finds at 10, 14, 30 and an unproductive at pickup.

Panther Creek Merlin (Frank Rutland) had an unproductive at 40 and a clean find at 42. Bully Bragg (Ernie Saniga) had a perfect find at 40 after a lengthy relocation.

Day No. 4 was 36° at breakaway of Fast and Furious (Linder) and Magnum’s Southern Heritage (Alan Nitchman). Allen Linder picked up at 38. Heritage had an unproductive at 21.

Seekin a Thrill (Ross Leonard) and Hightailing Penny (Kevin Joyce). Leonard asked for the retrieval device at 23. Penny had an unproductive at 20 and Joyce picked up at 33.

Servais asked for the retrieval device at 18 for Paint The Town. Backcountry Bonnie (Joyce) was standing in the middle of a big covey of birds and had a picture perfect find at 26. She also had an unproductive at 33 and Joyce was handed the retrieval device at 39.

Both Prime Passion Lane (Peterson) and Knight’s White Lady (Owen) were picked up at 35.

It was 65° after lunch on day No. 4 for the 23rd brace — Crown’s Black Ice (Stephens Walker and Tracy Swearingen/Brian Sanchez) and Strut Nation (Scott Jordan). Ice earned her spot in the callback with a solid front running performance and four picture perfect finds at 9, 12, 23 and 40. Nation had a strong race and clean finds at 8 and 13.

Rocky Ridge Second (Francis) had an unproductive at 24 and was picked up at 30. Bo Bunda (Jack Arlington/Alan Atkins) had a clean find at 5 and was ordered up at 24 for failing to back.

It was 48° at the start of the fifth day. Erin’s Cold Justice (Linder)  had an unproductive at 14, clean finds at 18 and 22, pointed a turkey at 29 and had a second unproductive at 35. Pineywoods Jackpot (Hendley) was picked up at 9.

Hightailing Pearl (Joyce) came up birdless but finished her brace. Saniga asked for the retrieval device at 43 for Little Girl Creek.

Wild Hawk (Moses) and Suemac’s Roll Tide (McPherson) were in the 27th brace. Wild Hawk had a nice find at 13. Moses was handed the retrieval device at 39. McPherson asked for the retrieval device at 15.

Ray Wheeler’s Rock Creek and Rick Stallings’ Quicksilver Sir Nick stepped up to the line next. Creek had unproductives at 8 and 44. Stallings picked up at 36.

First up after lunch were Stone’s Tried and True (Crosby) and Erin’s Ty Breaker (Roach). True had a back at 9 and a nice find at 12. Ty Breaker carded stylish finds at 6, 9 and 38.

Showtime Dominator (Roach) and Miller’s Upgraded Version (F. Miller) were next. Roach picked up at 25.  Upgraded Version had a great front running race and two pretty finds at 21 and 35 to earn her a spot in the callback.

Day No. 6 was overcast and drizzling as Quail Roost Accolade (Susan Wells) and Native Leaf (Justin Howard) stepped up to the line. Accolade had a find at 18. Leaf had two clean finds at 5 and 38.

Panther Creek Chance (Rutland) was picked up at 13 for failing to be steady on game. Fast Times had a find at 8 and Francis was handed the retrieval unit at 30.

Miller’s Miss Calamity Jane (Linder) earned herself a spot in the callback with a nice front running race, an unproductive at 14 and two picture perfect finds at 21 and 33. Dragonfly (Jim Hughes) also earned himself a callback spot with his strong front running race, an unproductive at 24 and a jam up good find at 33 after a lengthy relocation.

Hightailing Maggie (Joyce) went birdless but finished the brace. Waybetter Rocky ( Carl Bishop) had a find at 14 and an unproductive at 33 after a lengthy relocation.

No. 35 after lunch — Daniels Creek White Hawk (Jeffery Gilbertson) and Smokin Joe’s Spud (Bruner). Hawk had an unproductive at 10. Bruner asked for the retrieval device at 15.

Sims Ramblin Rex (Junior Sims) had a find at 24. Lester’s Prime Poison Lane (Peterson) had a clean find at 29.

It was raining at breakaway on the seventh day. Lone Tree Splish Splash (Owen) had a find at 13 and was ordered up at 17 for failing to be steady around game. Saniga asked for the retrieval device at 30 for Jubullee.

Time Flies had an unproductive at 15 and Moses picked up. Suemac’s Sashay (McPherson) had an unproductive at 14 and a back at 15. The retrieval device was asked for at 26.

Miller’s Armed and Dangerous (Crosby) was picked up at 42. Talladega (Eli Richardson) had a clean find at 22.

Hendrix’s Signed Copy (Roach) and Zumbro Stinky Pete (Gilbertson) stepped up to the line for the 40th brace. Roach picked up Copy at 8. Gilbertson was handed the retrieval device at 34.

First up after lunch were Miller’s Just Plain Rowdy (Linder) and Harbor City Cruise (Brigman). Rowdy earned his spot in the callback with a nice front running race and a clean find at 14. Cruise had one nice find at 14.

The 2017 Free-for-All Champion Sugarknoll War Paint (Linder) and Born On Fourth July (Gilbertson) were next. War Paint had a find at 11 and Linder picked up at 18. July was picked up at 11 for failing to back.

It was 61° at breakaway on day No. 8, the last day of the trial, as Osceola Rebel Chief (Roach) and Bad Prairie Valley Girl (Wiseman) came to the line. Roach asked for the retrieval device at 30. Valley Girl had a find at pickup.

Conway Twitty (Atkins) was named top qualifying dog and earned an automatic spot in the callback for his outstanding performance. The white and lemon  pointer male ran a solid front running race and had exceptional finds at 11, 17 and 41. Catanzarite asked for the retrieval unit at 37 for Springflow’s Backcountry.

Erin’s Calvin Klein (Stallings) had a picture perfect find at 41 and a clean front running race to earned himself a spot in the callback. Miller’s California Dreamer (F. Miller) had two unproductives at 21 and 40.

Hodges Beast Mode (Hicks), as a bye,  had a find at 9 and was picked up at 21.

After lunch, Miller’s Heat Seeker (F. Miller) and C S Joe Kidd (Roach) had a feather find at 11. Roach picked up at 39. Miller asked for the retrieval unit at 33.

Rentz’s Fire and Ice, a bye, put on a show and earned a spot in the callback with a strong front running race and three perfect finds at 2, 28 and 32.


Last year’s Champion Redland’s Jacked Up and Crown’s Black Ice were quite the match up. They away with the temperature at 38°. Jack, white and liver pointer male, had bird contacts at 15, 55, 83 and 88. He had unproductives at 39 and 80. Black Ice had a stellar performance — picture-perfect finds at 5, 26, 30, 69, 76 and a back at 39.

Brian Sanchez always dreamed about winning the Amateur Free-for-All with his multiple champion Great River Magnum, but Magnum crossed the rainbow bridge too soon. However, he was able to win it with Magnum’s daughter Crown’s Black Ice. The new champion received four revolving trophies that will be kept at the AmeriFirst Bank in Union Springs. These memorial trophies are in honor of the late Bill Hembree, Tobe Stallings, Bill Goolsby and Bill Perry.

The second brace — American Express Lane  and Miller’s Upgraded Version. Lane had a bird contact at 13. Miller picked up Version at 82.

Sedgefields Shadow Rises  had an unproductive at 11, two clean finds at 32 and 40 and was picked up at 50. Miller’s Unbridled Forever had stylish finds at 32, 44, 48, 66 and unproductives at 23 and 85.

Lester’s Top Recruit had an unproductive at 13, a picture perfect find at 22 and Servais picked up at 50. Phillips Wind Lind had a clean find at 47 and two unproductives at 55 and 84.

Top Qualifying Dog Conway Twitty and Miller’s Miss Calamity Jane. Atkins picked up Twitty at 50. Jane had three nice finds at 60, 65 and 89.

Linder asked for the retrieval unit at 30 for Miller’s Just Plain Rowdy. Dragonfly was named runner-up for his picture-perfect performance. The pointer male had perfect finds at 18, 39 and 42.

Erin’s Calvin Klein was picked up at 50. Rentz’s Fire and Ice had clean finds at 7 and 46. Rentz asked for the retrieval unit at 50.

Union Springs, Ala., February 22 — One Course

Judges: Jonathan Burch and Burke Hendrix


[One-Hour Qualifying Heats; Ninety-Minute Finals] — 90 Pointers

and 5 Setters

Winner—CROWN’S BLACK ICE, 1651922, pointer female, by Great River Magnum—Miss Strut. Tracy Swearingen & Stephens Walker, owners; Brian Sanchez, handler.

Runner-Up—DRAGONFLY, 1669453, pointer male, by The Crowd Pleaser—Miller’s Calamity Jane Lady. Jim Hughes, owner and handler.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Hugh Rowe Thomas | May 18, 2019 09:23

"Hats off" to Morgan Brewer for such a well written article.  The flow of the actual trial was chronicled in such vivid detail, making you feel like you were there.  The description of the social activities associated with the event reminds me of glory years past and gives hope for a promising future for this beautiful sport.  I hope to witness much of this for myself next year.

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