OXFORD, N. Y. — The 70th renewal of the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic took place on the prestigious Flanagan Farm, home of Grouse Ridge Kennels in Oxford, N. Y.
The Puppy Classic rotates between three regions and starts the Saturday after the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational concludes. The process of entering a dog in this event starts a year earlier with breeders nominating their litters for the Grouse Futurity. It is the support of those breeders that keeps the Grouse Futurity and Puppy Classic successful.
The grounds are classic New England type cover consisting of stone walls, old apple orchards, briar patches and grow- back farmland. Peter Flanagan laid out a perfect course to judge potential in a puppy. There was grouse and woodcock cover, open woods where a handler could show a dog, several turns where a dog had to be handled and gathered up, also a field at the end that let a dog make a big finish.
John Capocci of Katonah, N. Y., and Pat Cooke of Rochester, N. Y., accepted the invitation to judge this event.
Both men know good dogs and have owned/campaigned multiple-champions. John’s winning dog, Grouse Hill Bell, was named champion at the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational the day prior to the Puppy Classic, her second year in a row doing so and John’s third time as an owner winning this distinguished title.
Handlers from Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada brought 21 puppies to the line.
After looking each entry over with a keen eye, Judges Capocci and Cooke named Full Breeze the winner. “Bree” is a big strong setter female and she flowed through the course with a high cracking tail and smooth, powerful gait. She was always forward, ran big when the course allowed it and when good looking bird cover presented itself she hunted it thoroughly.
Bree was bred and is owned by the team of Bob Watts and Dick Brenneman. Their breeding program and dogs have a long history of winning.
Second was Asper Hill Pippi, handled by owner Mike Oxenrider, Jr. Pippi’s fleet footed application through the course had the judges up in the saddle early and the whole gallery paying attention. She ran to the limit with style. This was Mike’s first placement in a trial and to say he was excited was an understatement. He and Pippi will surely be back in the winners’ circle. She was bred by brothers Marc and Scott Forman at their Shady Hills Kennel. They are no strangers to breeding dogs that win.
Third was Knob Mountain Mayhem, handled by owner Mike Spotts. “Jax” ran with a high tail, laid to the front and went the places you’d like to see a dog go. Mike remarked that his favorite quality of Jax can’t be seen in a puppy stake, Jax is absolutely stunning on birds. He is a littermate to the winner and also bred by Watts/Brenneman.
Fourth was awarded to Braggabull, handled by owner Mark Hughes. “Emmy” is a solid built puppy that hits the cover hard. She ran with enthusiasm and a fluid gait. She was bred by long time bird dog enthusiasts and field trialing team of Ernie and Karen Saniga, a product of a bloodline and dogs they have bred going back many years.
First, second and third place were all sired by Full Blast. He sired the winner in this event last year and three winners in the 2015 running.
The Futurity process highlights quality breeding and he is no doubt making his mark and passing on his winning qualities to his pups.
I’d like to thank Peter and Katie Flanagan for hosting this year’s Puppy Classic. Their grounds are beautiful and Pete provided horses, lodging, and did whatever was needed to make this event successful.
Deb Nihart was a big help, getting coffee break and lunch ready, watching the road and keeping things moving. She is always willing to lend a helping hand at a trial. Thank you Deb.
Dean Reinke and Nestlé Purina are a long time sponsor of the Grouse Futurity and this event. They supplied the winners with plentiful amounts of Purina Pro Plan. We are very thankful for their loyal support. Garmin Tri-Tronics supported by donating an e-collar to the winner. Thank you, Garmin Tri-Tronics, for your continued support.
After seeing the crop of puppies that ran this spring, it is shaping up to be a really competitive Grouse Futurity in Michigan this fall. Hope to see everyone there.
Oxford, N. Y., April 15
Judges: John Capocci and Pat Cooke
GRAND NATIONAL GROUSE PUPPY CLASSIC — 6 Pointers and
1st—FULL BREEZE, setter female, by Full Blast—Straight Forward. Robert Watts & Richard Brenneman, owners; Thor Kain, handler.
2d—ASPER HILL PIPPI, setter female, by Full Blast—Shady Hill’s Girlie. Mike Oxenrider, Jr., owner and handler.
3d—KNOB MOUNTAIN MAYHEM, setter male, by Full Blast—Straight Forward. Michael Spotts, owner and handler.
4th—BRAGGABULL, pointer female, by Bully Bragg—Bullerina. Mark Hughes, owner and handler.