Saturday morning came very early for me. I got up at 3.00 am and was on the road by 3.50 am. Andy very kindly got up and let the dogs out whilst I got showered and dressed. He also fed Niamh and Zeki who must have thought Christmas had come for them! I decided to leave Poppy at home for this trip as it would mean a lot of time in the car for her.
It's a long drive to Scunthorpe for sure. It was made bearable as Becca and I accidentally met up on the A1. She had camped at Shuttleworth and so didn't have quite as far to drive as me. We took it in turns leading so that we both had a chance to relax about the speed cameras that appear along the A1. We arrived at the venue at about 7.20 am. I took the girls for a walk and then went off to walk Niamh's first ever champ course. I was very excited and quite nervous too.
It was a good thing that this particular show is for large dogs only. I don't suppose Zeki was too impressed but it did mean I could focus totally on Niamh for the day and I am glad of that.
The judge had set a quirky jumping course and it took a lot of victims. Luckily I wasn't one of them and we managed to go clear. The agility course was also quite tricky and I have to say my knees were like jelly whilst I was getting ready to run. It's two years since I retired Poppy from championship classes and although I hadn't forgotten what it's like to run in one I was very nervous. I truly don't know how I managed to run two dogs in champ classes when Abbey and Poppy were at their best. Anyway I managed to control my nerves and run clear. Niamh was such a good girl, completely honest as always despite one or two little errors from her handler!
Our two clear rounds got us into the final. I am so proud of Niamh for this achievement, getting into the champ final at her first ever championship show. She is such a wonderful dog and I so love running her. My friends were so supportive including the ones that weren't even at the show and I got lots of good luck texts which was really nice.
Before the final I ran Niamh in the crufts qualifier. Sadly my mind was so much on the agility round of the champ class at that point that I put her over a jump instead of taking her to the weaves. This was a bit disappointing as she was running the course really nicely up until that point. Hey ho!
I decided not to run her in her two other classes as she was quite tired and we still had the champ final to run. I also decided it was best if I kept my focus in one ring!
The course went up and we walked it. It was a very nice course but a little too quick for us. There wasn't a huge amount of handling involved it really was about speed and accuracy. There was one tricky part where you had to send your dog from the weaves out and around to the long jump but I wasn't worried about that as I trust Niamh on this particular maneuver. She did me proud on the whole course and especially on that difficult bit and I even managed to tell her what a good girl she was as she did it. That caused a few people to laugh but I always do that when my dogs do something clever so it's just habit :o) We ran as fast as we could but having watched David and the amazing Dobby run first and go clear we kind of knew we wouldn't be quite in that league. That didn't stop me trying though and I was so proud to finish 6th overall out of a strong field and at our very first champ experience. Becca kindly filmed the round, thank you!
Once the show had finished off we went to Newmarket where I had booked B&B for Saturday night. This meant a 40 minute drive in the morning to Shuttleworth and day 3 of our wonderful weekend! It was a lovely place and I would thoroughly recommend it. I was made very welcome and the accommodation was brilliant.