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Florida Championship, Tom Word


My Love Affair With Chinquapin by Tom Word


Tom Word (center) with 2020 Florida Championship judges Chip Pendergrass and Andy Crowell

My long life (85 years) has been marked by good luck. None so great as meeting Ted Baker and gaining his invitation to report the Florida Open All-Age Championship which I did from 1995 through 2022. As a result, I watched the continent’s best all-age dogs in competition head to head annually over twenty-seven consecutive years on wild quail. Just think of it.

Chinquapin is the ideal place to watch all-age dogs on quail. Terrain, cover, visibility, equal opportunity, plentiful wild game equally distributed, no mud, few briars, usually good weather, ideal time of year, ample practice ground similarly endowed, good judges, unmatched hospitality, safe horses for the reporter. Yes, ideal. And for me, the reporter, unmatched friendships resulted with Ted Baker and other club members, like minded devotees of bird dogs and trials for them. The opportunity to get to know the fraternity was an added bonus. What a gift God (and Ted Baker) gave me.

Survival of the field trial sport, especially at its highest levels, has always been endangered, dependent on a few generous fanatics. Never more so than in recent years. And Ted Baker gave to the sport unstintingly at a critical time.

Always conscious of the on-the-edge existence of professional trainer-handlers, he arranged things to favor them. Starting with the inaugural trial at Chinquapin in 1969, when he guaranteed a $1,000 purse in the Derby and $2,500 in the All-Age, very rich for the time, built a new barn-clubhouse and installed new kennels and paddocks. That first trial attracted some of the best dogs and handlers on the circuit and over the ensuing decade more and more as the reputation of Chinquapin and the Suwannee River Field Trial Association grew. In 1979, the All-Age was elevated by the Field Dog Stud Book/American Field Publishing Company to a Championship.

For the ensuing forty-two years (no trial was run in 1994) the best of the continent’s All-Age dogs went down at Chinquapin in the Florida Open All-Age Championship. In 2008, the format was changed to a 40-minute qualifying series, one hour finals, call back numbers in discretion of the judges.

Year in and year out, wild birds were plentiful, and equitably distributed. Courses are different, each with its hazards, its advantages. The first-after-lunch course, called “27” after its designation on topo maps, is a mostly flat, fenced rectangle of 3/4 of a section. It is dreaded by handlers but produced many memorable Champion and Runner-Up races. Run in later years clockwise in concentric circles, its advantages were plentiful birds and the line fences to turn in big-runners, its difficulties were its flatness and the same fences.

Everyone’s favorite course was the second morning one, beginning at the foot of the second highest hill in Florida atop which rests Chinkapin Bisco Buck’s grave, continuing through sloping valley and ridge country to a fence at 15 minutes, then 90’ left (south) 6 minutes to another corner; then 90’ left (east) 20 minutes to a 90’ left (west) turn over rising ground to a final 90’ left turn down hill for the finish. Many memorable winning races were run on this course. It required a true All-Age contender without let down to look good.

Cover at Chinquapin is wire grass, no crop fields, occasional feed patches, planted for insect production more than seed production, with sparse scattered pines throughout. Feed is broadcast year around. This cover tells quail their biggest threats are avian, so running is more likely to produce escape than flight. As a result, birds tend to run when pointed and are hard to flush. And they scatter when they run, making relocations difficult. Nothing is easy for the dogs. A dog from edge country run mostly on planted birds becomes forlorn. Success requires hitting the cover an hour. The sand and the cover take their toll on stamina.

Dogs with multiple-year placements in the Florida Championship: K’s High Rise, Ch 1983, 85 (Roy Jines); Fiddler’s Pride, R-U 1984, Ch 86 (Fred Rayl); Chinkapin Bisco Buck, Ch 1989, 90, 93, R-U 95 (Pete Hicks); Double Rebel Buck, Ch 1995, 96 (Fred Dileo); Joe Shadow, Ch 1998, 99 (Robin Gates); Chinquapin’s Millinneum, R-U 2001, Ch 04 (Bobby Hartwig); House’s Snake Bite, R-U 2007, 08, 09 (Andy Daugherty); Chinquapin’s Andy Ch 2009, 10 (Joe Hicks); Chinquapin Reward, Ch 2013, 16 (Slade Sikes); Chinquapin’s Legacy,  R-U 2018, Ch 20 (Slade Sikes); Miller’s Unfinished Business, R-U 2021, Ch 22 (Joel Norman).

The last Florida Championship was run the second week in January, 2022. Ted Baker died April 28, 2022 at age 87. Thank you, Mr. Ted.


Ted Baker and Howard Brooks, 2020 Florida Championship


Ch. Chinkapin Bisco Buck’s grave


Bubba Moreland flushing, 2014 Florida Championship


Ray Warren flushing, 2019 Florida Championship


Jamie Daniels, 2017 Florida Championship


Eventual Champion of the 2022 Florida Championship, Miller’s Unfinished Business. A good end.

Timeline of Florida Championship

 

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ABOUT STRIDEAWAY

Strideaway is an online publication founded in 2008. We are dedicated to promoting the great sport of American pointing dog field trials, in particular American Field sanctioned trials for pointers and setters. Our objective is to present the voices and ideas of experienced trainers, handlers, breeders and other knowledgeable participants and enthusiasts from the past to the present — amateurs and professionals alike. Whether All-Age or Shooting Dog, Horseback or Walking Trials, we place particular emphasis on wild bird field trials and the dogs that compete in them. We present richly illustrated articles and stories, podcast interviews and other types of media on a regular basis with the hope of providing an ever expanding, searchable archive of information relevant to pointing dog field trials.Read article

This website is dedicated to our ever faithful friend, Bill Allen who passed away peacefully and surrounded by his loving family on January 25, 2022 at the age of 96. We will miss him but he left us the greatest of gifts, his wonderful writings in a book we published for the 3rd time in 2021: The Unforgettables and Other True Fables.

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