Working Golden Retrievers are usually a very athletic looking dog, sound and well balanced which make them physically capable and well co-ordinated for the rigours of field work, possessing strength and enviable endurance. They are a resourceful game-finder and a determined soft-mouthed retriever on land and in water. They are always eager to please, possess a retentive memory, work close to the gun and are well suited to all types of cover, working with the handler as a team. For those who devote their time and effort to the working Golden the rewards can be wonderful.
In 1967 our foundation member and patron of the club, Allan Robertson competed in the field with Ch Lantana Sun Storm. He was followed by David Hands who trained our first dual champion, Dual Ch (F) Sweetwater Courage who earned her Field Trial Champion title in 1975. John Lawton trained our second dual champion, Dual Ch (F) Tiptree Timothy CD RRD who earned his title in 1990 and also trialled FT Ch Ferndarra Game Seeker CD to her Field Trial Championship in 1990.
In 1973 the Field Trials Committee was formed, headed by Allan Robertson. A Field Training Day was held at Cranbourne which attracted 20 dogs and handlers. It was a grand start to a regular club feature.
Another event organised by Allan Robertson was the club’s first Novice Spaniel and Retriever Field Trial in 1974. Although it was a Labrador that took winning spot, the Runner Up was David Hand’s Ch Sweetwater Courage.
Spaniel and Retriever Field trials became regular events for the club. By 1986 the club was holding two Field Trials, a Novice Trial and an Open Trial every year during the winter months. The Dual Ch (F) Sweetwater Courage Trophy was first awarded to the winner of our Open Trial in July 1983. This trophy is named after the first Golden Retriever in Victoria to gain her Field Champion title.
In 1987 the first National Championship Field Trial was held in Victoria with the KCC State Championship Trial held the previous day. The Runner Up at the KCC State Trial was a Golden Retriever - Tiptree Timothy CD owned by John Lawton. In 1991 John Lawton was Runner Up at the ACT Field Trial Championships with Ferntip Golden Spike CD.
In our silver anniversary in 1992 for the first time the club held a two day Open Field trial in August.
In that year Peter Doley and Portlaoghise Misty Dan RRD CDX earned his Field Trial Champion Title winning one trial solely on quail and the other on rabbit proving that Golden Retrievers work equally well on feather and fur. Helen Pownall and Shirama Lady Rachelle NRD CD also gained their Field Trial Champion title in 1992.
Both these dogs went on to compete in the Victorian State Championship Trial with success – yet another first! Helen with Shirama Lady Rachelle RRD CDX was the first woman to win a State Field Trial Championship. Peter and FT Ch Portlaoghise Misty Dan RRD CDX were Runner Up - the first time ever that Golden Retrievers have held First and Runner Up placings in a state championship.
Two years later in 1994 Helen Pownall and FT Ch Shirama Lady Rachelle RRD CDX were Runner Up at the State Field Championships. The following year FT Ch Shirama Lady Rachelle RRD CDX won the State Championship Trial. This was an outstanding achievement.
In 1993 John Lawton successfully trialled his third Golden Retriever, FT Ch Ferntip Golden Spike NRD CD to her Field Trial Championship.
The club continued holding Spaniel and Retriever Field Trials each year and in 1996 a double open trial was successfully conducted. But in 1998 and 1999 the club’s field trials had to be cancelled. The drought and the introduction of the calicivirus virus to the rabbit population had caused a scarcity of game which made it difficult to run the trials and almost impossible for competitors to train for these events.
Unfortunately, the lack of game and the scarcity of suitable properties has meant that the last field trial held by the club was an open field trial in 2000.