|What has been your best dog to date?
This is a hard one for me as I guess I've always preferred dogs to bitches. I'd have to say FT CH Traigmhor Jaguar for his power, his stamina, and his strength although FT CH Isle of Micah would match him for endurance. Micah was a phenomenal workhorse during our shooting trips up north. He had the strength of three dogs and his scenting powers were on a different level. Micah was bred by Lady Jean Fforde. I brought back two dog pups from the Isle of Arran. One went to Duncan Davis and he became a field trial champion as well. For sheer class and speed I'd have to opt for FT CH Here We Go at Traigmhor.
What bitch has been your best bitch?
I think on the one hand it would have to be FT CH Gerensary Cherub for her brilliant nose and because she has taught so many of our youngsters the finer points so to speak. On the other hand Jaunty Jig has been our best brood bitch. So many people liked Jig and I have very fond memories of her.
What do you look for in a Pointer or Setter in terms of working ability?
I want to see five star running, hunting with great power, hitting the wings all the time and an acute game sense. In other words a dog with great scenting powers. A dog which potters is no good to me. I used to shoot on a moor called Garrogie in Invernesshire and you needed a big team of Pointers and Setters to cover huge acreage. The estate was approx 36,000 acres of mountainous terrain and you needed a powerful, fit animal to tackle the moor. So a middling - pottering - dog wouldn't do for me I'm afraid. Apart from anything else it's far more exciting for guns and handlers if you have a decent challenge ahead of you.
Why did you get involved in Pointers?
My wife and I witnessed grouse trials in the 70s in Perthshire. I well remember the late John Nash coming over to Scotland and I really admired his team. Several handlers came from Ireland and I often felt you needed a classy dog to beat them. I remember people like Bertie McIlhinney, Bertie Law and Morris Getty in the early days. At the trials, we met Lady Jean Fforde and Patience Badenoch Nicolson and it was their influence which inspired me to get a good working pointer.
How long have you been judging? And where have you judged?
Over 20 years. I have visited Northern Ireland since the early 80s. I wouldn't miss it for the world. The craic is mighty as they say and apart from anything else the Irish have good quality dogs. They are real sportsmen in my opinion. I have judged in Ireland on three occasions and I have judged the UK Champion Stake. I enjoy judging and of course it's a great honour to officiate.
What's your opinion on all setter breeds these days?
I have witnessed some great Setters - in recent times I think the Red Setters have been much stronger than Pointers. I have also witnessed some good going English Setters - particularly those over in the Republic of Ireland. Regarding Gordon Setters, there were some great running Gordons during the 80s when I started competing. I well remember dogs handled by the late George Burgess. It was as if they were running on railway lines - straight line hunting all the time. I think Penny Darragh has done a really good thing in bringing in continental blood lines. I think we're needing to do this for Pointers.
What's your favourite ground?
My favourite, favourite ground was Badanloch because it was tremendous running ground and you could really show your paces. Sadly we had to move south. Tillypronie in Aberdeenshire has been a lucky ground for me. I do grouse counts in Northern England - Killhope moor to be exact - and I think the ground is brilliant for our job.
What diet do you feed your dogs ?
Chudleys of course. I also feed good chicken and sardines in sunflower oil.
Who influenced you most in your early years at field trials?
I think I'd have to say Marcia Clarke, Lady Jean Fforde and Pat Woods.
What are your plans for the future?
Apart from training Pointers, the ability to continue walking on our moors for a long time to come!!