Meet Rockyhill Duke Wood. Owned by Will Mitchell of Ohio. Will is an old friend whom bought a couple of boys from me a few years back so he'd have a couple of nice hunting dogs.
A little over a year ago though he called and said one of the boys (Duke) had far more potential than he thought he could properly develop on his own; and wanted to know if I'd be willing to take him on as part of my trial string.
Knowing the line so well since I owned two of his littermates (and I bred the litter) who had both made great hunting dogs already and whom had both done very well running in Puppy and Derby Stakes I said "sure".
Because of his age when I got him back to run he only got to run in a couple of Derby stakes where he did very well, just not good enough to win (especially over his litter mates ha!) then he hit 2 years of age and that was that.
So for a year I just hunted him and ran him occasionally in training with my trial dogs, then in December he just started standing broke on his own and I decided, "He's ready for more".
In January our new club had a small trial that we initially thought fell through so I went ahead and entered a different trial for the same weekend. Two weeks before the scheduled date the trial was "back on" which put me in a Quandary. I have to support this club since I'm one of the founding members, but I've also comitted to another trial for Saturday/Sunday. In compromise I say I'll come friday, run Derby dogs, and judge whatever stakes need me and then I'll be off. At the last minute they don't have enough dogs to keep a major in the limited without me entering at least one so I entered Duke.
I had a good friend and fellow pro trainer/handler that planned to be there so I asked if he'd run Duke for me and he agreed.
Well Duke did the impossible, and actually won the stake with a handler who'd never petted, much less handled him until a half hour before the stake started!
Subsequently he also won a limited in CT, took a second in a 29 dog stake in MO, and looked like he was about ready to step up to whatever I asked him to do.
This last weekend we were in AZ since for the third straight year the Brittany folks had asked me to come out and judge for them. I had some extra help here and decided to give it a shot so I agreed to come.
Duke didn't let me down. He laid down a beautiful race and pattern and had one tremendous find towards the end of his brace and his manners and style were unbeatable! The judges apparently thought he was pretty nice too since he WON!
This dog has completed his FC with only a total now of FOUR PLACEMENTS each in different stakes, and all but one of them in major stakes. All but this last one were retrieving stakes as well and he's never missed an opportunity to retrieve either in competition, nor while hunting.
As I've often said, it's very rare for a man to be as lucky as I have been in having the opportunity to work with such great dogs.
Thank you Will for sending Duke here to me and thank you Bullett for siring such a nice young dog. With Duke's FC that makes 11 straight generations of champions on his sire's side, and he's the first that we've produced completely from our own breeding.
Thanks and congratulations again Will! CR