Competitors from the frozen north and west assembled in St. Charles, Mo., greeted by daffodils and spring grass, for the running of the 30th Anniversary Gumbo Flats Gold Cup Stake Beagle and Basset Spectacular, March 20.
D.J. Moore, MBH, and the Three Creek Bassets (Mo.) have hosted this annual competition since 1975. This year, judges Joe B. Wiley, MBH of Tewksbury Bassets (N.J.), and Tommy Jackson, MFH of Coal Valley Hounds (Kan.) and huntsman of Mission Valley Hounds (Kan.) presided. Anne Barry Weber, formerly huntsman for the Bridlespur Hounds (Mo.), hunted the combined pack. Wiley was present for the inaugural running of the Gold Cup 30 years ago.
A weekend culminated with pleasant weather, after an early morning frost, for the running of the Gold Cup. Each hunt entered three couple, with an even number of Beagles and Bassets in the pack of 12 couple. Participants included Bassets from the Three Creek and Spring Creek (Ill.) and Beagles
from the Leawood Farm (Minn.) and Settlers Acres (Mo.).
The hounds had enjoyed a convivial hunt the day before under frustrating conditions at Bridlespur Hunt’s territory, in St. Louis, Mo. For the big day, wind had died down, and the participants set off drawing the tall grass and scrubland in a valley below MBH Laura Balding’s cottage.
Over the ensuing two hours, there was good sport, with several viewed rabbits and great cry. The gallery, led by Moore and assisted by Don Walsh, managed to be in the right place all day to observe exceptional hound work. Frequently, rabbits ran near the cottage, so even those unable to follow on foot could feel like they were part of the action.
The terrain hunted was at times rough and thick. Hounds coped better than the judges and huntsman with the trappy hillsides, creeks and briar patches. In fact, Wiley, the senior judge, had a nasty spill when a culvert he was crossing rolled and turned him off into the creek. He emerged, bloodied but unbowed, despite the well-meaning assistance of his fellow judge.
The difference between the hunting styles of the different breeds was more noticeable this year than in previous years. The Beagles tended to outrun the Bassets, while at checks, followers appreciated the Bassets’ steady working of the lines. At times they seemed to work as two separate groups. Nonetheless, the judges were impressed by both styles.
Moore kept the crowd in suspense as she presented the traditional presents to judges and huntsman, while telling a hilarious story, assisted by her daughter, Balding. They awarded the Master’s Cup for “participation above and beyond” to Tony Stever for a second time in 30 years, and finally announced the results.
Leawood Farm Beagles took fourth through second place ribbons home to Minnesota for M.B.s Nick and Connie LaFond. But Settlers Acres Cameo narrowly outdid Leawood Farm Tasha to win the Gold Cup for Jim Beisel, M.B.
The Basset division placings were split odd and even. Fourth and second places went to Three Creek, with Spring Creek placing third and Spring Creek Cuddles, in her first stake outing, winning the Gold Cup for Gail Johnson, MBH. Three Creek Xanadu was a close second.