Dogs of Importance…
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“What is the secret of their ‘greatness’? It is the ability to find and handle birds in a manner superior to ordinary dogs. The ability will often be associated with speed. They will have great noses. In all sports the usual difference between the champion and lesser players is that the champion performs with speed and precision that the others cannot match. This becomes most obvious when the champion plays against ordinary opponents.”
Wingfield Xtra (“Chance”) was from the last litter Leon bred, born in May 2001, and the last dog he trained and handled. She was by his own stylish bitch Wingfield Winterbreeze (Chywoon Entrepreneur of Jonsmae – Wingfield Velvet) and Bob Whitehead’s Berryfield Garth (Chywoon Entrepreneur of Jonsmae – Berryfield Elle). Both parents were then quite young, but were soon to show their talents. Winterbreeze was Novice Game Trial Dog of the Year 2002, while Garth got the same title in 2003. Xtra was to follow closely behind. Already at the age of 1 year and 5 months she won the North Island Championship (October 2002). She beat her double grand-sire Entrepreneur into 2nd place (who himself had won the Ch’ship in 2000 and 2001, at the time when Leon still handled him). Leon was again to win this Championship one last time, in 2003 with pointer Wingfield Banner. Most people started visualizing Leon dominating trials for years to come with Xtra. Unfortunately that was not to be. Leon competed in his last field trial in August 2003, an Open trial, which he won with Xtra. Less than a month later his wife Joy died, and on January 7th 2004 Leon passed away.
Xtra later came to Ian & Jennie Hendren, Game Ridge Kennels, and Ian handled her to win a championship trial, and later also placing third in the Joy & Leon Mortensen Memorial Trial – which was won by Chywoon Entrepreneur of Jonsmae. It was as if they both paid their final respect to their former trainer and handler.
Leon just after having won his last trial with Wingfield Xtra
There was a period when it took something very special to beat Banner’s former kennel mate Woody (Chywoon Entrepreneur of Jonsmae). At the Waikato Championships on 14th/15th September 2002, Leon handled Banner in the best running I have seen downunder. When Banner ran at his best, whether it was for Joy or for Leon, he was of top international class. Joy and Leon themselves used to say “he had one of his Italian runs”. In other words he was running like a Grande Quete dog. Included was that he was outfinding his partners to the birds. That weekend in Waikato he had two excellent runs and won with Woody as runner-up – both days! Banner had several great field trial results up through the years, and he finished his career winning the North Island Championship in 2003 and gaining his FTCh-title.
Wingfield Banner after his 1999/2000 season. After a great 2002/2003 season he was retired.