Ever since we started going to Beagle Racing, we’ve been told that the annual Fun Day is a really great day out. However as I dragged myself out of bed this morning I wasn’t sure what would be waiting for us when we arrived at Inch Farm. Last Sunday’s racing had been cancelled because the track was completely waterlogged. All through the week the rain just kept on falling in Glasgow, and from what I could tell the same was true of the Kincardine Bridge area. Still, we’d decided we were going to go no matter what, so we packed up a big piece of chicken, a spare lead, a sleepy Beagle, and headed off.
When we got there, things looked very promising. The ground was fairly dry, and little patches of blue sky were poking through the grey clouds. We headed over to the admissions tent and booked Beanie into just about everything she could enter: four shows, fun races and of course the main event – the Beagle Racing Derby.
More cars rolled into the car park, and before long there were Beagles everywhere you looked.
There was also a strong Dalmatian presence, but I had the feeling they wouldn’t be racing.
Dalmations. But are there really 101 of ’em?
Our friends Kathleen and Neil brought their Beagle posse, and Louise soon arrived with Tess and her pups Tara and Clara. Two more of Beanie’s pals also turned up for their racing debuts – Alfie, from the Glasgow Beagle Dog Training Club, and Jasper, a handsome lurcher (or purebred greyhound, depending on who you talk to) from our local park.
The shows were on first, and before long Susan was proudly leading our little pup into the ring. Once there, Beanie demonstrated her own distinctive brand of ring craft. Where the other Beagles were content to stand, she went one better and sat her bum firmly on the ground. When they trotted around on four legs (so passé), she walked on two, and when it was time to hold her head high, she stuck her nose so close to the ground she could probably smell Australia.
Beanie begs for treats, while Alfie and Tara behave themselves
Curiously the judge was not impressed, and our little hooligan successfully dodged all of those pesky show prizes. Tess’s pups Tara and Clara fared much better though, and both picked up rosettes.
Tara third (yellow), Clara fourth (green) – with a little help from Craig!
Kathleen and Neil also had success in the ring – two of their boys got third and fourth places (Kathleen jog my ailing memory will ya – I can’t remember their names!) The judge said one of them would have placed even higher with a few tweaks to the handling technique. Apparently, the lead should sit high up on the neck, to encourage the dog to hold his head high. Of course, even with correct technique things can go wrong!
Sam – Susan’s favorite for winning the races, and fastest looking racing Beagle dog
Beanie’s friend from the park – Jasper – tried his luck in the shows too. Admittedly his class wasn’t heavily populated…
…but still, a 2nd place rosette is nothing to be sniffed at!
Beanie’s lack of success in the ring didn’t really matter to us though, because her true talent is running. While we waited for the shows to end, we got news that the draw for the initial round of Derby heats had been made. The very first race put Beanie up against two of the fastest males: Milo and Sam. Only the first two from each heat would go forward to the semis. She had beaten each of them in the past, but never in a proper race, and never when they were fresh. It didn’t look good.
As Susan took Beanie to the start line, I headed down to the finish to catch her and wrestle with the camera. When I got there I realized that I’d forgotten to take her second lead, so I’d have to carry her back. Even worse, I’d also forgotten her chicken treat. What rotten luck. Not only was our pup going to exit the Derby in her first heat, she wouldn’t even get her post race chicken!
I readied my camera, and as the lure started down the track, I yelled encouragement to Beanie, even though I couldn’t quite see her yet. Four Beagles thundered past the finish, but not one of them was Beanie.
Sam about to overtake Milo, but the race hasn’t actually started yet!
I zoomed in on the Start line, and there was Susan, apparently still holding our pup. What on earth had happened? Walking back up the track, I finally got an answer: a false start. One of the Beagles got a “flyer” (thanks to some dodgy lure driving, as I later learned), and the other three had followed suit, leaving Beanie on the line still waiting for the “go” signal. Rather than disqualifying the four false-starts, the heat would be re-run later.
The other heats went more smoothly. Murphy secured his place in the semis with ease, and decided to claim the lure as his prize.
Kathleen and Neil’s dog Breac also triumphed in his heat. He may be a relative newcomer, but already he can’t watch a race without straining to follow the other other dogs down the track!
Seven month old Alfie ‘s debut didn’t go too well though. In fact he did what could be described as “a Beanie“, and needed repeated coaxing from his owner to venture off the start line. Don’t worry Alfie, once you get the idea of chasing the lure I’m sure you’ll do well!
And so it came back to Beanie’s group. In the past we’ve noted that while other dogs tire after their first round, Beanie seems to get stronger. Her four competitors had already burned up some energy on that invalid first run, whereas she was fresh (well, ignoring all the wrestling she’d done with other pups while waiting for the shows to finish!) Also in her favor was the increased length of the track: 150 yards versus the more usual 120. I figured she was in with a chance now.
This time everyone got away cleanly, and as they approached the finish, it was clear that Sam was still tired from that aborted first run.
No, Milo doesn’t have 3 ears. That’s Beanie directly behind him in 2nd place!
Milo won, Beanie got second and Sam came in third. It was a shame for Sam, but on the other hand, our little girl was still in the Derby!