Pointing Breed Field Trials
The Inaugural National English Setter Field Championship
by Vince FitzGerald

The first American Kennel Club (AKC) licensed National English Setter Field Championship was held by the English Setter Association of America (ESAA) and hosted by the Monterey English Setter Club (MBESC) on March 19, 2004, near Santa Nella, California, at the O'Neill Forebay Wildlife Area. Supporting stakes followed on March 20 and 21.

This inaugural National English Setter Field Championship, with an entry of 23 dogs, was judged by, Sherry Ray Ebert and Ray Calkins, both having judged several national championships. The championship course was a course which allowed dogs to "stretch out" and show the judges they could run but still possessed plenty of cover so that dogs could demonstrate bird sense and handling.

The National English Setter Champion for 2004 is Secret Holiday, owned by Paul Friedrich and handled by R. J. Marquart.

2nd place FC Whittier's Big Ben, Owner: Ernest J. Johnson. Handler: Roy Smith

3rd place FC/AFC Hunter Hill Sage, Owners: Frank and Maria Lallas. Handler: Frank Lallas

4th place Keystone Ricochet, Owner/Handler: Eldon Bouchie

Judges Award of Merit Ch Cobblestone Sealed With A Kiss CD JH, Owner: Mari Anderson. Handler: Roy Smith

Click on image for caption and larger view.

Following the National Championship stake was the ESAA Amateur Quail Classic on Saturday with an entry of 25 dogs. The Open Derby Classic followed on Sunday with 16 dogs.

This event had been a long time coming. The very first AKC field trial was held in 1924 by the English Setter Club of America (still in existence but no connections today with ESAA, AKC, or English setters). Through the ensuing years, several regional English setter clubs held field trials. During the 1950's and 1960's English setter clubs held several field trials annually, but appeared to lack interest in a national field trial championship. Field interest generally began to wane during the 1960's. However, as general interest in field trialing English setters diminished, a gentle ground swell of interest in English setters began to grow in the mid 1970's. During the 1980's participation in field events grew rapidly in California, and in the 1990's interest was expressed for a national field title for English setters. The expanding interest of regional clubs, together with sufficient interest within the ESAA Board of Directors and support from AKC Performance Events, resulted in the ESAA Quail Classic field trials. The success of these Quail Classics, beginning in 1999, demonstrated to AKC that sufficient interest existed to support a National Championship.

In March 2004, eighty years after the English Setter Club of America held the first AKC licensed field trial, the English Setter Association of America held the first National English Setter Championship field trial and has made application to AKC for a license to add a National Amateur English Setter Championship Stake.