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United States Amateur All-Age Derby Invitational

By Quintin Wiseman | Nov 15, 2019

Readers likely saw the ad for the United States Amateur Derby Invitational that appeared in the November 16 issue (page 30). And one is also carried in this issue (page 30). The first trial is to be held in conjunction with the Region 5 Amateur All-Age Championship and the second in conjunction with the Region 6 Amateur All-Age Championship.

How it all started. My all-age dog was injured and unable to compete and all I had at the time were four Derbies.

I was unable to decide which Derby to move forward with because all of them impressed me equally so I started running them when the season started. Each eventually had several wins and placements and that’s when it hit me. “These Derbies are all qualified with placements to run both open and amateur championships. Why am I and my wife going up and down the road to thirty-minute Derby stakes with literally nothing to gain except the bad habits young dogs can get from trialing too much?”

Seriously, I thought there needs to be an incentive of some sort to continue to compete in amateur Derby stakes once the dog is qualified. There was no reason except the obvious love of the sport and the camaraderie of fellow trialers.

But I thought some sort of an invitational stake but couldn’t decide on the format and how to make it work.

Coming to fruition. I traveled to Pinckneyville, Ill., for the Region 4 Amateur All-Age Championship and there met good friends Todd and Trisha Babbel of Dunbar, Neb. After the running the first day, we were visiting in the clubhouse about numerous ideas and Jay Lewis of Ashland, Mo., joined us.

I explained to them what I was thinking and they offered their input as seasoned trialers on why they thought it would be well received. When I returned home I took notes and shared text messages with them to “tweak” the format and that’s when we decided in order to involve everyone throughout the field trial community from West Coast to East Coast we would adopt a Regional format (East, Central and West ). The four top regional points-earners will comprise the twelve dogs invited to compete in the Invitational Classic in the spring.

This was discussed at length with a lot of people and was well received by the majority and less by a few. Some were not quite sure if they liked the region format, but said they would support anything that was designed to help field trialing.

Once the regions were set up we needed to comprise a committee to help organize events and be a spokesperson for each region.

Whitley Stephenson of North Carolina and I would represent the East Region; Todd Babbel and Jay Lewis, the Central Region, and Rich Heaton (Idaho) agreed to handle the West.

More and more people got on board and were showing a lot of interest in the new format so we set out to establish a list of trials that would be used as qualifying stakes. To do this we announced on social media and word of mouth spread rapidly that we would accept trial nominations up until September 15 and then the committee discussed and comprised the list.

We were gaining ground rapidly and gaining a lot of interest! I was running a dog at the Southern Championship and spoke with Brad Kennedy with Sportsman’s Pride. He graciously stepped up to the plate to be the Headline Sponsor for our new enterprise.

It was determined that to make it even more appealing to the field trial community each Region would host a “Super Qualifier,” basically a qualifying stake with bonus points available for the winners. We were able to piggyback the Region 5 Amateur All-Age Championship with the Central Region Super Qualifier and the Region 6 Amateur All-Age Championship with the East Region Super Qualifier.

We spoke to Bob Johnson with B&B Tack in Albany Ga., about sponsoring saddles for each winner of the Super Qualifiers and also the Invitational winner itself. He accepted the sponsorship and immediately got to work building some beautiful saddles for our winners!

Numerous other sponsors have stepped up with donations of prizes as well. They will all be recognized once our list is comprised!

I spoke with Burke Hendrix and he and his father Guy, longtime trial competitors and patrons to the sport, agreed to donate the hay and horse feed to all twelve participants in the Invitational Classic! So many people have helped make this a strong inaugural year!

In order to have a field trial you first have to secure a site and grounds. Bill and Allen Currie, Blake Kukar, J. P. Hathcock, Ike Todd, Crutcher Stoots, Ross Callaway and everyone involved with the West Tennessee grounds offered the grounds for use. If anyone has never been to these historic grounds they need to attend a trial here. This club goes above and beyond with support and hospitality from the meals to the fire pit.

We also commissioned Leah Brigham to paint a portrait of the winner.

Invitational Classic format is as follows: Day No. 1: 45-minute heats for all dogs; Day No. 2: also 45-minutes heats. Day No. 3: A one-hour callback, the number of dogs called back at judges’ discretion Super Qualifier. 45-minute heats with bonus points as follows: 25 pts. for winner, 15 for second and 10 for third combined with the 3, 2, 1 point per starter format. (Example: 20 dogs started x 3 pts. = 60 pts., plus 25 bonus pts. = 85 points to the winner, etc.

The Invitational Classic and Super Qualifiers will rotate annually to ensure all amateurs have ample opportunity by limiting travel annually.

The running of the first Invitational Classic is scheduled to be held March13-15, 2020 at West Tennessee field trial grounds.

Judges have been secured. Longtime professional Steve Hurdle of Mississippi and well respected dog man Wallace Reichert of Georgia have agreed to preside in the judicial saddles for the inaugural running. With the experience and knowledge these gentlemen possess, there is no doubt the placements will be well received!

Any questions pertaining to the United States Amateur All-Age Derby Invitational please reach out to one of the committee members.

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