My hat is off to those who volunteered with setup dogs. How humbling! to step up, no collar, and put it all on the line (on VERY difficult set ups) in front of everybody, time after time for an entire week took a lot of "guts" in my opinion..... I can assure you that those dogs slept well each night.
I have very little experience on the subject, so I can't say, but I heard time after time throughout trial week from contestants that this would be remembered as a difficult National. I guess none of them are easy.
During setups, the judges don't really share what's on their mind with regards to what they're looking for in a given series. Having said that, it is MY OPINION that series 1 and 2 were not intended to be the ball buster that they were. It certainly didn't beat up the set up dogs to bad. What a difference a little wind, etc. can make huh? I do think they knew what they had with the long retired in the 4th though! haha
Random opinion- As a whole, I think this group of bird throwers is as good as any in the sport. They can CHUNK em!
A key theme throughout the 2 weeks was time management. Things had to go smooth in order to look at all the dogs fairly. Something that many don't think about is lightening. We stayed out for hard rain but if it started popping, in we came. This has been an incredibly rough spring in the area as far as thunderstorms go. During set ups lightening kept us out of the field for several hours one day. We were very lucky during trial week, but it was in the back of everyone's mind, knowing that lightening could potentially shut down everything for a half day (or more).