My apologies for the delay in getting this report and the results below posted.
The Inaugural Stakes, the first NLCC lure coursing meeting, was a wonderful day of sport. Almost everyone approached the day with curiosity and enthusiasm.We had 54 runners entered, and could not have asked for better lure coursing weather for the dogs -- highs in the low 50's, with near-perfect footing.
We started the day with an owners' meeting just before inspection, and I went through the brackets chart and briefly explained how the brace elimination format works. We had distributed free NLCC rulebooks the day before, and I was amazed at how quickly they were snapped up. The handlers must have boned up on the rules, as there were very few questions asked at the owners' meeting.
After inspection, I announced that the draw was being done and that everyone was welcome to watch the draw. I was amazed at how many people gathered around -- I think they wanted to see who their dogs would be running with and who would get the byes in the stakes with odd numbers of entries. (The last dog drawn in an odd-numbered stake gets the first "natural" bye).
We finished the draw straightaway, and a lot of people gathered around to watch the first dogs run -- there was definitely a sense of wanting to be able to say you were there for the first NLCC course. Since we were running by breed alphabetical order, Basenjis were the first breed to slips.
As with most trials, the pace picked up after the first course got off. Borzoi were next, and we ran them in the yellow and blue coursing blankets out of concern that their long coats would obscure the judge's view of the red or white coursing collars. We are planning on running Borzoi and Afghans in the collars at the March trial to see if visibility is a problem, and we'll switch back to the blankets that day if it is.
I think it's fair to say that the red and white coursing collars were a hit, and not only because they were new and different. Several people commented that they liked not having to remember their dog's blanket color or fussing with getting them on before they ran -- just come to the paddock with your hound, get the right color "loaner" collar from the Paddock Master, and off you go to slips. I had worried that they might not be visible when the dogs went into the far corners of the course, but the judges all said it was not a problem. I have to thank Sandy Vernon again for figuring out that red or white human headbands for skiing or other athletics make perfect coursing collars!
Everyone got into the spirit of seeing the judge declare the winner of each course at the end by waving the red or white (or yellow or blue for the Borzoi) handkerchief (okay, they were actually cloth napkins <G>). After a few courses, we suggested that the judges wait a minute or two before "raising the flag" so that the handlers could get their dogs under control and give their attention to the judging area. To a person, everyone said they loved not having to wait for the
posting of scores.
I picked one of the judges to question at some length about the judging aspects of the new running format and the scoring format. He said he had no problem tallying the points in his head as the dogs ran the course, and didn't need the judge's worksheet we provided to them. He felt that running in braces makes for better lure coursing because it's the classic form of one dog running against another, with no third dog in the mix to make it more complicated.
He said that the judging is definitely easier, in particular because there is no need to cross-course judge or assign numbers to categories. In watching the courses with groups of people in the paddock, I would ask them at the end of the course whether the red collar or the white collar won. Most of the time most of them would agree on the winner, and their pick was almost always the judge's pick.I firmly believe that this will make a lot more people happier with the judging in lure coursing, which is one of the biggest areas of complaint in the sport.
The one thing this judge didn't like was the number of byes, and the running of byes is an inevitable consequence of running in braces, unless you strictly limit entries in stakes to even numbers. Even then, you will have byes when dogs are withdrawn after the first courses. As I have always said, no format is absolutely perfect -- certainly the category scored trios format isn't -- and byes are a necessary complication of brace elimination. Luck is an element of any format, and "the luck of the draw" is what results in the assignment of byes. The experience did give us some further understanding of how to tweak the rules so that byes are fairly and randomly assigned as the brackets progress.
The Secretary and clerks loved the simplicity of the paperwork -- no math to do or judge's sheets to check! Just put the name of the winner in the next bracket on the A side and the name of the loser in the next bracket on the B side, and you're ready to go. We posted copies of the bracket sheets (and will get the NCR sets for the next meeting) on the bulletin board, and folks would gather around to see who their dog was running against in the next round.
The meeting moved well through the brackets, and soon enough we had our winners and runners-up of the A Bracket and our winners and runners-up of the B Bracket in each breed. No run-offs! And if memory serves, no courses were called as undecideds and had to be run again. We did have one dismissal, and a few no-courses due to mid-field breakdowns, but all in all everything proceeded smoothly, especially considering that we were plowing new lure coursing ground.
Throughout the day I tried to get as much feedback as possible from the exhibitors. The most frequent comment I got was how much people enjoyed having the variety of a new format from one day to the next. The second most frequent comment was how much folks liked the greater transparency and objectivity of the judging. A few people had trouble understanding that there were no "points" toward titles, so I took some extra time with them to explain the "winning percentage" concept behind the NLCC's Grand Field Champion title. I think that one will take some getting used to, because it's such a departure from the AKC and ASFA schemes that have become so engrained, but in time I think folks will realize that it goes far further in recognizing and rewarding consistently excellent performance on the field than the existing systems do.
For myself, I thought it was a great day of sport and that the NLCC program has great potential for creating renewed enthusiasm for and interest in lure coursing.SEGC will give it another whirl with a "split" weekend March 21 - 22, with ASFA on Saturday and NLCC on Sunday. This one will be at a big new field at the Chattahoochee Hills Farm equine eventing facility near Fairburn, Georgia just south of Atlanta. It is a truly beautiful piece of countryside, with the lure
coursing field well in the interior of the farm, and the Chattahoochee River well in sight. I hope that those who weren't able to join us in January will come out and test the waters, so to speak.
Without further ado, here are the results:
National Lure Coursing Club
January 25, 2009
Hosted by Southeastern Greyhound Club
Old Mill Farm
Basenji – Open Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Zip
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Lola
3rd Winner, B Bracket -- Riley
Borzoi -- Open Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Iris
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Truffle
3rd Winner, B Bracket -- James
Greyhound – Open Stake, Division 1
1st Winner, A Bracket – Riccy
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Blue
3rd Winner, B Bracket – Lucy
4th Runner-up, B Bracket – Seka
Also ran: Archie, Nick
Greyhound – Open Stake, Division 2
1st Winner, A Bracket – Echo
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Cole
3rd Winner, B Bracket – Woody
Also ran – Abby, Nellie (dism.)
Greyhound – Senior Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Kady
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Smoke Um
3rd Winner, B Bracket – Camille
Also ran – Tuck
Ibizan Hound – Open Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Hugo
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket -- Zeke
Pharaoh Hound – Open Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Reign
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Atreyu
3rd Winner, B Bracket – Rosemary
Rhodesian Ridgeback – Open Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Gibson
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket -- Bebe
Rhodesian Ridgeback – Senior Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Chip
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Gennie
Saluki – Open Stake
1st Winner, A Bracket – Pye
Silken Windhound – Open Stake
1st Winner, A bracket – Ti' Amo
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Belita
3rd Winner, B Bracket – Dessa
4th Runner-up, B Bracket – Riata
Also ran – Deo, Dream, Indigo, Za
Whippet – Open Stake, Division 1
1st Winner, A Bracket – Spencer
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Everett
3rd Winner, B Bracket – Smokey D.
4th Runner-up, B Bracket – Ty
Whippet – Open Stake, Division 2
1st Winner, A Bracket – Cosmo
2nd Runner-up, A Bracket – Lobo
3rd Winner, B Bracket – Smokey A.
4th Runner-up, B. Bracket – Johnny
Also ran – Oh Jo
1st – Fin
2nd – Lockett
3rd – Primo
4th – River