Trials and tribulation
Shooting Times & Country|September 09, 2020
Trials and tribulation
The Kennel Club has issued extensive guidance for staging field trials during the pandemic. David Tomlinson wades through the protocol
David Tomlinson

LAST MONTH, THE International Gundog League (IGL) cancelled this year’s Retriever Championship. It was hardly unexpected news. If the IGL had decided to go ahead with the event, the biggest in the gundog calendar, it would certainly have been newsworthy. The last time the Championship was cancelled was in 1967, due to foot and mouth disease, while it wasn’t held during the war years 1939 to 1945 and 1914 to 1919.

The logistics of trying to organise the Championship, scheduled to be held at Ampton in Suffolk at the end of November, would have been a nightmare, while there would have been the possibility that the event could have been cancelled just days before it was due to take place.

However, an equally important factor in its cancellation was the fact that insufficient qualifying trials will have been held beforehand. Though many trialling societies and clubs are still stating that they hope to run trials this season, how many will manage to do so is debatable.

I have just been reading the Kennel Club’s operational plan for the resumption of field trials, which you will find on its website. Seldom have I read a more depressing document. Over-wordy, it covers every eventuality you can possibly think of, plus a few more, and is sufficient to put offall but the most determined of organisers.

It states: “The health and safety of everyone attending field trials is of paramount importance, and it is vital that events are conducted with adherence to social distancing and health and safety guidelines. To ensure that this is the case the recommended protocol must be adhered to.”

The protocol extends to some 1,800 words of what you can do and what you must do. The advice starts with the initial visit to the ground to discuss the trial and make a risk assessment with the keeper, “when hand sanitising gel/wipes should be required by all attendees”.

When it comes to appointing judges, locals should be appointed where possible in order to minimise travel, though “where an overseas judge was already under contract, the appointment may proceed provided it did not contravene any government regulations or restrictions”.

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September 09, 2020