Thoughts on Championship Invitationals
The five most prestigious and longest running Championship Invitationals in the country are*:
• The Quail Championship Invitational. The 54th running began this morning (Nov 25) on the grounds of the West Kentucky Wildlife Management Area near Paducah, KY. Twelve of the top Open All-Age contenders in the country are competing for the title.
• The United States Shooting Dog Invitational Championship
• The National Amateur Invitational (All-Age)
• The National Amateur Shooting Dog Invitational
• Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Championship
Invitations are based on a dogs’ accumulated Purina Points garnered through wins during the previous year in Purina Points trials with a limited set number of the those top earners invited to compete.
How Are They Unique?
As someone who has competed, bird hunts and has a general interest in the continued good breeding of bird dogs, the Invitational format presents a unique opportunity to witness (if you are lucky enough to be there) or read in the American Field reports about the country’s top field trial dogs. Dogs are given opportunities to perform over two days, then dogs are chosen by the judges, based on those two performances, to return for another, sometimes longer effort on the third day. Luck of the draw, something we all accept in field trials, is lessened in this format giving dogs a more equal opportunity to show their talents. Whether all-age or shooting dogs, they must be physically and mentally right to perform with consistency and brilliance over the duration of the trial.
“Consistency” of performance is not mentioned much in our game. More often in the all-age arena, people speak with great enthusiasm about that single far-flung performance where a dog “runs off but not quite”. Without question, a winning performance must excite and hopefully knocks the judges’ and galleries’ socks off.
In the “Quail Invitational” currently underway, one brilliant performance paired with a lack-luster one will not get a dog to that third day. The dog I want to breed to or want pups from will perform consistently over the two and three days, displaying their talents as a Class all-age bird dog with the strength and gait to hold up physically and the genetic mental makeup to do it on their own.
Good luck to all the dogs, handlers and owners competing in this the 54th running of the Quail Championship Invitational!
* More recently there are other Invitational-format Championships sanctioned by the American Field for German Shorthaired Pointers, Brittanies and held by US Complete and NBHA.