The Daily Whippet

Kate Darbyshire and Riff Repeat Triathlon Win

by Erin Rose McNeill

The culmination of four days of performance events are the Triathlon and Versatility Awards. Triathlon consists of a day of ASFA lure coursing, AKC Obedience, and Conformation. The scores are tallied and weighted using a formula developed specifically for these events so that the dogs competing at the highest levels are awarded accordingly. For many, Triathlon and Versatility are the highlight of the National, even though they open the week. For each team competing, an entry is the culmination of a tremendous amount of time and conditioning. To place in the Top Ten of either event is evidence of a great partnership between the human handler and canine teammate.

This year, the Triathlon was won by the defending team Kate Darbyshire and her dog MBIF, Multi-HIT, CanCH Domino Play It Again CanRN, CanFCh, CanCDX. Although they were defending their first place finish in 2014, this year’s win was a nail-biter. Riff and Kate actually tied with Fifi and Angie Bass, who were also competing in Versatility. Performance Chair Lisa Costello explained that the tie breaker would be the team with the higher lure coursing score, “because that is what whippets were bred to do.” Keeping to the core function of the breed, Riff’s score edged out Fifi’s and, breaking the tie to win the Triathlon for the second year in a row. (Don’t feel too badly for Fifi and Angie—they won Versatility by adding in Agility and Rally too! Their interview appears in the Tuesday issue.—Ed.)

Riff and Kate’s record this Triathlon make it difficult to believe that there was another team who would catch their score. Riff placed first in his ASFA Open Lure Coursing Stake, then first in Novice B Obedience with a score of 197.5 out of 200. He was ranked 14th out of 38 in Conformation —it took Fifi’s first place conformation finish to catch him for the tie. Not bad for a team that has focused so much more on obedience and rally handling skills. Kate and Riff also took second place in Rally Novice B, with a score of 99 out of a 100. Kate’s husband, Werner Reitboeck who is himself an exhibitor and judge for stockdog events, shared the secret of Kate’s training success: “Kate normally walks her dogs for about an hour each day—exercise both for them and herself.  On top of that, she has 3 or 4 training sessions/week, one of these at a training establishment.” With that kind of dedication, there is no wonder that she is reaping the rewards in the obedience and rally rings as well as out on the coursing field.

Kate headed out of town before we could interview her for The Daily Whippet, but we did get some insights from Riff’s breeder, Donna Miner, who was following reports of their success avidly from home. “Kate is the sort of competitor with whom every breeder dreams of placing a puppy.  She is capable, detail-oriented, and competitive. She is intent on getting the best from every dog she acquires, and yet, she is the ultimate sportsman at every competition. She sets the bar very high for the rest of us!” Donna leased Riff’s dam from breeder Lynn Cleary of Clearhounds in Ontario, Canada. Donna said that when she read on Facebook that Riff and Kate had repeated their 2014 Triathlon win again in 2015, she immediately called Lynn. “And when I told her about Riff, we both cried tears of joy together!” Donna confirmed that there were tears of joy ringside as well, by both Kate and her Canadian cheering section, headed by Tiina Paulaharju.

Photo of the Day

“Bling” Whippet from the “AWC Color Immaterial” online auction. See more at the AWC website.