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History

Based on a rich history, longevity and unique characteristics, the National Championship has the distinct reputation of being the world’s premier pointing dog event. The inaugural running of the Championship took place in 1896 near West Point, Mississippi. Since that time there have been 111 annual renewals. Only four times during the span of those years have there been any reason to cancel the running. In 1897 severe weather forced the cancellation. Three other times, in 1938, 1944 and 1965, the decision to cancel was made due to the quail population numbers being so low as to not afford the dogs sufficient opportunity to render championship performances. In 1938 and 1944 this decision was made prior to starting the trial. In 1965 the trial actually began but was stopped and cancelled when the judges deemed the bird numbers to be inadequate.

The great majority of the 111 National Championships have occurred on the historic venue, well known today as the “Ames Plantation.” The Championship was first held on the Ames holdings near Grand Junction, TN in 1902. Held at various other sites for a few years following the inaugural running, the Championship found a permanent home on the Ames Plantation in 1915. It has been held at that location ever since.

Rich in tradition and history, the National is unique to field trials in that a dog must first qualify by winning two first place all-age placements in designated qualifying trials of heats one hour or longer. This is to insure that only the best and most deserving can compete for the bird dog world’s most prestigious crown. The trial is also unique in that every competitor must compete in a three hour heat. It is a true test of not only stamina but biddability or handling response. The courses that are used are much the same as they were in the early days. Both morning and afternoon courses each cover a tract of land of about 12 miles. By design these courses twist and turn and utilize nearly all of the 5,000 plus acres that are set aside for the running. Hobart Ames, along with the other leaders of his era, felt that stamina, bird finding ability and handling response were the most important attributes a bird dog could have. With those qualities in mind, an “Amesian” standard has evolved, becoming the yardstick for selecting the National Champion. Just as true today as it was more than fifty years ago, this standard separates the dogs so that only the most intelligent and most deserving can wear the crown of National Champion.