American Field

Robin Gates for the Hall of Fame

By Dr. Ron Deal | Jun 08, 2021
Robin Gates

Macon, Ga. — Robin Gates is so well known, and his record so impressive that it seems almost ludicrous to write this endorsement.

When his shooting dog record is combined with his all-age one, he won well over a hundred championships. He won the National Championship four times. He handled the Purina Dog of the Year five times and won Handler of the Year the same number of times

Three dogs he handled and developed are in the Hall of Fame and a fourth is a lock this year. He won every trial on the Canadian prairie multiple times and did the same in the piney woods. If he was there, he was the one you had to beat to win.

Robin was a master showman. Even a novice at his first trial could recognize that talent. He always had an outstanding string of dogs and knew how to show them to advantage. His skill always enhanced the perception of their performance. A lot of handlers can win with a great dog. Robin could do that too, but he also could win with just a good dog that he made look great.

Robin’s greatest legacy is his son Hunter, an exceptional gentleman who teamed with him in some of their best performances. An additional legacy is the influence Robin exerted on those who followed him into the sport: Mark McLean, Luke Eisenhart, Jamie Daniels and Lee Phillips, among others.

Robin had a knack for making everyone around him feel good. I never ran into him when he was not friendly. He always had something positive to say whether you were one of his owners or a stranger at your first trial. The compliments might not have always been factual, but they were always generous and well received. That his presence is missed so much at current trials is a testament to his stature in, and past contribution to, the sport.

Robin Gates by all criteria is more than qualified to follow his father and brother into the Hall of Fame. I urge everyone to take the time to vote for him.


By Freddie Rayl

SYLVESTER, GA. — It all started in the late 1940s when our dads, John S. Gates (Captain John) and W.F “Bill” Rayl, started competing head-to-head in field trials through the early 1960s.

Then, John Rex Gate (Bull) starts competing in field trials in the early 1960s when Captain John winds down his career and Bull continues where John S. left off.

My dad, the fierce competitor he was, started winning his share and holding his own with Bull.

Back in the day, when there was no such thing as “child labor law,” our dads, John S. (including John Rex) for Robin Gates (Big) and Bill Rayl for Eddie and me, started grooming us for this sport when we were kids. Robin and Eddie started competing on the shooting dog circuit and in a short time were doing great. I followed dad on the all-age circuit, and we were both competing against John Rex. Not to brag, but I did hold my own with “Bull”.

As John Rex started winding down his field trial career, Robin slides over in the 1980s and starts competing on the all-age circuit. Tough enough starting out in the business competing with “Bull” from early 1970s through early 1980s, I got to face Robin for the next forty years.

Robin was a natural and Robin took the field trial sport to the next level! For over seventy years, the Gates and the Rayls were not just fierce competitors, but our families were and are still great friends.

Over my career, I have competed against a lot of great handlers, many who are in theHall of Fame, but I have never feared nor respected anyone more than Robin “Big” Gates, the man that the Field Trial Hall of Fame was meant for.

Please join me and honor “Big” and the Gates family by casting your ballot for “Big” for the Field Trial Hall of Fame.


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