Game Winner, RU Ch. at NY Grouse Ch.

Game Winner, Bob and Dick’s 6 year old male, trained by Dave Hughes and handled on this occasion by Mark Hughes was named the RU Champion at the conclusion of the 2022 New York Grouse Championship. The grounds and courses at the famed home of Grouse Ridge Kennels were in top condition for this year’s running that saw 34 of the nation’s best cover dogs compete for honors.

Game Winner, call name “Finn”, distinguished himself early in his competitive career by winning 1st at all the open derbies that year in his home state of PA (Nittany, PA Grouse and Venango) as well as going to Michigan and winning 1st at the Grand National Grouse Futurity with a finished grouse find in the closing minutes of an exciting 30 minute hunt. Since then, “Finn” has been campaigned almost exclusively in grouse championship stakes.

In New York, “Finn” ran a flashing one hour. He’s a classy moving dog as were his many winning siblings who won the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic on multiple occasions. It was the thrilling performances of “Finn’s” siblings from earlier litters that had us determined to get a pup from this mating. On the third repeat mating of Dave D’Hulster’s Springfield Showgirl to our Grand National Grouse Champion Full Blast we were able to get in the que for a pup. Our pup pick didn’t let us down as “Finn” has the carriage, jump and crack in his running form that we have sought and demanded of the dogs we campaigned for now over 40 years.

“Finn” not only put down an exciting hour of hunting at this event, he also found grouse and got them pointed with style. On three occasions point was called by Mark Hughes and in each instance “Finn” had the quarry in front of his nose. At the flush on each of his finds “Finn” was steady and just as intense as when he first pointed. It’s been a long long time since any dog has pointed grouse successfully on three (3) occasions in a championship on the east coast. This underscores what we’ve know about “Finn” since his early days, that he’s a smart dog who has the instincts and intelligence to find wild birds and get them pointed.

An emotional aside to the story of “Finn’s” win is that the pointer who was named champion, Duck Hook, was braced with “Finn”. The pointer also had three (3) beautifully handled grouse finds. Duck Hook is owned by our friend Dick Straub and his recent partner Mike Flewelling. Our friendship with Dick goes back 50 years to Bob Watts’s early horseback field trialing days where “Straubie” lived nearby and both attended the local Brandywine FTC draws, runnings and parties after the day’s running. Dick Brenneman and “Straubie” become close friends through the grouse trials that both attended and competed in successfully for decades. Dick Straub’s dogs accumulated 20 Championship and RU Champion awards over these years through the performances of some exceptional dogs, both pointers and setters. It was reported that Dick Straub’s health was fading and that he was near death when he received the news that his Duck Hook had won the NY Grouse Championship. Dick, on hospice, was pleased and had a smile on his face at the report as he had a goal of achieving 20 championship wins in his life. Dick Straub passed away on September 26, 2022, the day following the announcement of Duck Hook’s win.