Racing Reunion

Sunday’s first outing was for flyball class, and thanks to another spell of decent weather it was held outside again. Last week the change of location and the fencing around the course seemed to help focus all the dogs in the class. The same was true this week, but especially so for Beanie. She went from merely being reliable at returning the ball, to really getting into the whole flyball spirit. She was absolutely flying over the jumps, and even started doing the “swimmer’s turn” on the club’s new Canadian style box. That was great news – the swimmer’s turn is better for the dog as the force of the direction change is spread over all four limbs, and it’s more efficient too. It was superb watching her tearing up and down the course, but by the end of the class we were wondering if it had tired her too much for racing. We got our answer in due course, but I’ll get to that shortly.

After flyball we headed to Kincardine for racing. It’s a non-trivial journey from Balloch (Flyball HQ), but the roads were surpisingly quiet and we arrived early enough to watch the whippets doing their trials. I took a few slow motion clips and as you’ll see it’s surprising how graceful and fluid the whippets are when they’re in full flight:

This one is my favorite though – just look how the dog is stretching right out between each drive phase!

As an indication of how fast the dogs were moving, consider that the vids were taken at 210 frames per second and played back at only 30. That’s true slow motion, but they don’t look that slow. Maybe I’ll take some clips of the Beagles next week, just for comparison…

Speaking of which, shortly after the whippets had finished it was time for the Beagles. We had a decent turnout this week – some of the new faces from the start of the season had returned, and Dudley – one of Beanie’s brothers (direct brother, not half-brother like Biggles) – had come to race. He looked in fantastic shape. Last time we saw him he’d been carrying a bit of puppy fat, but he’s lost that now and is quite the athlete!

The first race had the Biggly boy up against Murphy. I had a strange feeling Murphy might just manage to hold off Biggles’ challenge, and I was right. Biggles came in last, but he enjoyed it and that’s what counts.

Usually when Murphy wins he pounces on the lure as soon as it stops and gives it a thorough shaking. I’d positioned myself right at the back of the track to catch that moment, and I’m quite pleased with the result:

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I’m pretty sure the lure was dead by the time he let it go! Beanie was in the next race, and she won pretty comfortably, but it’s notable that Chief – who’s only just started racing – came in second. He’s only 10 months old and I think he could shake things up if he comes regularly.

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Dudley was in the next race, and I focused on him to see how he’d get on. He’s wearing the blue jacket in these shots, and is instantly recognizable by his tail – he’s the only one that has it bolt upright (just like Beanie, always posing for the camera!)

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As you can see he was doing quite well, until he got a little distracted and confused!

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Nearly all newbies do something like that, and I’m sure that in a couple of weeks he’ll be going for the lure like a pro.

The next race was the final, putting Beanie up against Murphy. Watching from the finish line, I didn’t think Beanie got off to a good start, and further up the track she got into a little argy-bargy with Chief. Ordinarily this wouldn’t put her off in the slightest, but today she changed position and pretty much gave up on the race, jogging past the finish line in last place.

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Murphy aiming to win the race and the Scottish Beagle Gurning Championship all in one go!

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A solid win for Murphy, though Chief (in black) isn’t far behind.

Beanie seemed happy enough, and of course she got a big helping of treats (egg, cheese & veg omelette) when she finished, but I think this was an indication that the earlier flyball class had taken too much out of her. This was the first time that the class had become more like flyball practice than plain training, and it’s clearly not compatible with racing – at least not when they’re both on the same day. Since flyball goes on all year round but racing is limited to spring, summer and early fall I think racing should take precedence, but I guess we can miss the odd racing outing to keep Beanie’s ball retrieval skills ticking over. Hopefully our little girl will be running on a full tank next week!

That was the end of the racing for our two this week, but there were still some fun runs after the final. Race organizer Graham had been impressed by Dudley’s performance, and gave him a couple of extra runs with Murphy and other experienced dogs to help teach him the ropes.

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Each time Dudley was very quick off the line, even getting ahead of Murphy for part of the course. Unfortunately we never got to see whether he could finish a race in the same style because he lost concentration again – but he’ll soon overcome that! What’s particularly impressive about his debut is that he’s had hardly any off-lead runs to build up his fitness. Maybe it’s just in the genes. Beanie definitely has a gift for running and chasing, and it looks her brother Dudley has it too. Last summer, I noticed that Beanie’s sister Bella also seemed¬† to be able to hold her own in a chase. It turns out that Chief is also from the Newlin line, and though only 10 months old and still a newbie he’s looking very promising for later in the season.¬† We really need Bella to come along one week, then we can have the three siblings and the Biggly boy racing together. Now that would be quite a sight!

I don’t think any other dogs will be racing alongside this little fellow though:

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When the lure started moving he took off like the Tazmanian devil in the old Looney Tunes cartoons. For such a small dog he rocketed up the track, and probably did more damage to the lure in one race than Murphy could in a month of races. He’s a fun little character though!

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After all the racing was over, another impromptu Beagle show was held. I figured the Bigglet was a pretty safe bet for a rosette, even with my non-existent handling skills, but I was wrong! Dudley got first place and Beanie came second, and the judge seemingly had no idea they were related.

Well that’s it for this week. Click here if you want to see more piccies from this season’s racing!

2 Replies to “Racing Reunion”

  1. carolyne

    Paul those photos of Murphy are amazing I love the “go on try and steal my prize” look in his eye in the second one, Thank you so much for being our official beagle racing photographer.

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