What’s in a Title?

By Amy Bates

It can be really confusing when we open social media and dogs (for the sake of this article dog/s mean both bitches and dogs) are being advertised for stud work having all sorts of prefix’s before their registered Kennel name.  Here in the UK there is only one title that matters, Field Trial Champion (FTCh). The ultimate way to achieve this is for a dog to be placed first in the Retriever Championship, easy peesey!

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Photo from Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates

It is many years since Knaith Banjo born in 1946, held the title Dual Champion- meaning a Show Champion and Field Trial Champion and it would be wonderful, if not a little fanciful, to think that could happen again in the future.  For a Retriever to gain the title FTCh the dog must gain what we call “three tickets”*, one of which must be a win in an Any Variety, “AV” Retriever Open Stake, this is very important. It is common for Golden Retrievers to win a Breed Stake first but then they must compete and win against other retrievers in an “AV “ Open Stake in order to gain the title of Field Trial Champion.

*A “ticket” is a 1st  place in an Open Field Trial, 2ndplace doesn’t count.   A 1stplace in a 2 Day Open Qualifying Stake gives 2 “tickets”.  A 1stplace in a 1 Day Open Qualifying Stake gives 1 “ticket.”

This is the route to gain “Three Tickets”:

A dog which gains two first awards in 24-dog Open Stakes under three different Panel A Judges.

A dog which gains a first award in one 24-dog and one 12-dog Open Stake under three different Panel A Judges.

A dog which gains a first award in three 12-dog Open Stakes under three different Panel A Judges.

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Photo from Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates

Plus the dog must hold a Water and a Drive Certificate.  This ensures that a dog holding the title FTCh can sit steadily and quietly at a drive and enters water freely.  The Title is given by the UK Kennel Club and can only be achieved at UK Kennel Cub licenced trials/events.The Water Certificate may, but not necessarily, be gained at a special Water Test. The special water test must have been conducted before two Panel A Judges at one of the following: the Retriever Championship, a Field Trial Stake, or at a subsequent special test.   To gain a Drive Certificate two A Panel Retriever judges must witness the dog sitting steadily and quietly at a drive.


These common abbreviations are NOT titles and should NOT  appear in red ink on a pedigree.

OFTAW stands for Open Field Trial Award Winner.

FTW stands for Field Trial Winner

OFTW stands for Open Field Trial Winner

If you see this on a pedigree or social media post all it says is that this is what the dog has achieved so far in field trials.  A Certificate of Merit is not an award.

If you see “International Field Trial Champion (IFTCh), it means that the dog has been made up into an IFTCh on the Continent or in Southern Ireland at a Federation Cynologique Inertanationale (FCI) licenced trial event.  My husband, Peter Bates bred, trained and handled International and UK Field Trial Champion Levenghyl Gemstone.  “Gemma” was made an International Field Trial Champion by winning field trials in Belgium where she was handled by Mike Mulch. She  then came home and was made up into a UK Field Trial Champion in the United Kingdom where she was handled by Peter Bates winning  two 2 Day stakes, one a Walked Up in the North of England, in  Yorkshire and the other a Driven trial in the South of England, in Sussex showing her prowess and true champion qualities.

When a dog is made up up into a Field Trial Champion we have a tendency to ask where it was made up and at what time of year, as many dogs are made up in September on what I classify as manufactured ground only picking French Partridge. I believe that a true Field Trial Champion should have competed and won retrieving fur (hares and rabbits) and a cross section of feather such as pheasant snipe, partridge woodcock etc….

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Photo from Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates

The title FTCh  does not give any indication of the temperament (hugely important- it’s what we breed for) or the  health of the dog.  Some FTCh can have high (British Veterinary Association) hip and or elbow scores, hereditary cataracts and be affected by diseases such as PRA. It is worth bearing in mind that every screening test is not 100% specific for the diseases. Philippa Pinn, who has been in Labradors both show and working dogs  since 1979 is a Pedigree Interrogator.  Many of the well known “names” in the sport turn to Philly for advice when they are choosing a puppy or stud dog, a worth while exercise which can save a lot of heartache.

Social media and the World Wide Web have contributed hugely to bringing the world of Field Trials and the dogs that run in them to the masses.   Knowing the story behind the dogs that hold the titles, their health screening scores, the trials they have won, the person handling the dog, and the person training the dog, all play a part when it comes to understanding the dog behind the title.


Amy Bates

Born in Chicago, she moved to the UK in 1980.   Specialising in country living, Amy has written a regular monthly column for The Shooting Gazette for over 18 years and in 2014 started a new column about the world of Retriever Field Trialling from her point of view called “Field Trials and Tribulations”. 

 Amy has been extensively involved in Hunting and Shooting ever since moving to the UK.  Having entered into the world of competitive gundogs eight years ago, Amy has fully immersed herself in the discipline of gundogs with her usual gusto, she has competed and won in working tests, Novice and Open Field Trials, dog stewarded, judged, carried game and run the line, not to mention cooking the judges lunches! Training her gundogs is of paramount importance to her daily regime.

Amy lives in Yorkshire with her husband Peter Bates an “A” Panel Retriever judge and founder of the famous Levenghyl line of Labradors where they train their gundogs and endlessly entertains guests!

 Levenghyl Labradors


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Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates


Copyright Amy Bates @2019





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1 Response to What’s in a Title?

  1. Stephen Humble says:

    Very interesting and Factual account.

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