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Quail Championship Invitational

By Mary Sue Schalk | Nov 07, 2017

November 24 will mark the start of the 54th running of the Quail Championship Invitational held in Western Kentucky.

Affectionately and familiarily  known as “The Invitational” in the horseback field trial world, this trial is designed to test the skill and stamina of the best bird dogs in our sport.

Over the course of a season, points are accumulated through trials all over North America. Following the conclusion of the northern prairie trials, generally the stakes in Broomhill, Manitoba, points are calculated and invitations are extended to the top twelve points-earners for the season.

If one of the top twelve dogs can not attend, an invitation is extended to the next dog on the list.

This November only one of the top twelve points-earners will not be traveling to the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Last year’s champion, Dunn’s Tried’N True, is an automatic invitee and to his credit is also the top points-earner. The 2016 National Champion Lester’s Sunny Hill Jo finished second in  the points standings and will also be participating in November.

Dominator’s Rebel Heir is back for the second year in a row, earning third on the points sheet. Although Touch’s Game Point followed Rebel Heir in points accumulated, the pointer male will not compete in the trial this year.

The 2016 Invitational Runner-Up Champion, Erin’s Wild Justice, also qualified for a second consecutive year.

Dogs No. 6-9  that qualified are all newcomers to the Quail Championship Invitational: Coldwater Thunder, True Confidence, Dominator’s Dotted Line, Erin’s Hidden Shamrock and Awsum In Motion.

Lester’s Jazz Man is returning for the second time, having qualified in the 11th spot. The 12th dog is Westfall’s Black Ace, which is also a first-time participant.

The 2015 Quail Championship Invitational winner Touch’s Adams County rounds out the field of twelve for our 2017 competition.

Between now and the November 24 drawing, if a dog is unable to compete the following dogs will be notified with the opportunity to attend in the following order: Whippoorwill Blue Blood, Just Irresistible*, Whippoorwill

Justified, Oakspring Big Time Warrior, Salem’s Annie Oakley, Just Watch and Westfall’s Black Thunder.

The judicial panel is loaded with experience, both at the professional and amateur levels of competition.

Returning judge Eddie Berenzden of Higbee, Mo., will join Hall-of-Famer Colvin Davis of Minter, Ala., and first- year judge Mark Livingston of Central City, Ia.

Longtime contributor to the West Kentucky Field Trial Club and former Invitational Chairman John Russell of Bowling Green, Ky., will be the reporter for the trial.

The Quail Championship Invitational drawing will be held, as noted, the evening of November 24 in the clubhouse on the grounds of the West Kentucky WMA.

Purina, a generous sponsor of the stake, will host dinner beginning at 5:30 p. m.

The West Kentucky Field Trial Club also has a silent auction to help offset cost of the event, which will occur during dinner.

Promptly at 6:30 p. m. the introduction of the dogs will begin. The drawing will immediately follow, and  running orders printed.

On Saturday morning the running will start at 8:00 a. m. and so begins one of the classic field trials of our time.

The appended roster of Quail Championship Invitational winners carries the names of pre-eminent field trial performers and handlers. Andy Daugherty and John Rex Gates lead all handlers with six wins each of this premier stake. Fred Rayl follows with four titles, and Mike Matney has the distinction of being the handler of a dog (House’s Rain Cloud) that won three consecutive Quail Championship Invitational titles (1996, ’97 and ’98)!

Barshoe Buzzsaw, Fiddler’s Pride and Wrapup won back to back titles. Other two-time winners include Miller’s Silver Bullett, Miller’s True Spirit and Lester’s Absolute, but a year intervened between their two wins.

Seventeen dogs shown on the winners’ roster have been elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame: Barshoe Buzzsaw, Builder’s Addition, Fiddler, Fiddler’s Pride, Funseeker’s Rebel,  Lehar’s Main Tech, Lester’s Snowatch, Miller’s Silver Bullett, Miller’s White Cloud, Oklahoma Flush, Rebel Wrangler, Safari, Texas Fight, The Kansas Wind, The Texas Ranger, Whippoorwill’s Rebel and Wrapup.

Many others  — both dogs handlers — went on to illustrious field trial careers.

This trial is steeped in history, passion and rich competition. The West Kentucky Field Trial Club works all year to host the event and extends the invitation to the entire field trial community to attend. Now is the time to witness history.

[*Sympathy is extended to Miss Mary Devos of Centennial, Colo., and Georgia trainer-handler Jamie Daniels on the passing of their champion Just Irresistible. We commend them on his many accomplishments in his short career.]

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