Photographs from the 40th Annual NOFCA Grand Course


February 13-16, 2010

  These photographs originally accompanied an article by John E. Burchard in the Spring 2010 issue of The Sighthound Magazine, pp. 36-39.  
  The text below is original, not taken from the article.  
  Photographs © Herbert G. Wells, Alpaugh, California. All rights reserved.    
  Web page design by John E. Burchard, Alpaugh, California    
  NOFCA, the National Open Field Coursing Association, sponsors open field coursing events in California and other Western states. The Grand Course is the culmination of the NOFCA coursing season. It is an invitational event - only hounds who have achieved a certain minimum point score during the current season are invited to participate.

In U.S. coursing meets, hounds are drawn at random in trios. Each trio in turn takes its place "on the line" while everyone else forms a "gallery" to either side. Hound handlers, huntmaster and gallery walk forward until a hare (jackrabbit) is flushed. The huntmaster allows the hare a certain amount of "law" (head start) before signalling the handlers to slip their hounds. The judge - usually perched atop a vehicle to have a better view - then assigns scores to the work of the hounds. Capturing the hare is not important in the scoring, and in fact most hares make good their escape. After all hounds have had a turn in this "preliminary" round the course winners, and at the judge's discretion also some other high scoring hounds, are drawn again for a second "final" round. The preliminary and final scores are then added together to decide placements.

Hunts, as these events are usually called, are of two kinds. "Breed hunts" are open to hounds of one specific breed only. "Mixed hunts" are open to all sighthound breeds. When a mixed hunt is hosted by a "breed" club, however, hounds of that breed do not participate. Points are tallied separately for breed and mixed competition.

The Grand Course is run in two phases, usually over the Presidents' Day weekend. The first phase consists of two rounds of breed competition, one under each of two judges. The breeds are sorted into two groups, of roughly equal numbers of hounds, which run at different locations, with one judge at each location. When the first round has been completed the judges switch places, so in the second round each scores the other group of breeds. Thus at the end of the first phase all hounds of each breed have run twice, once under each judge. The scores are then tabulated and the hounds with cumulative scores in the upper half for their breed advance to the second phase.

The second phase is a mixed competition, in which each randomly drawn trio runs once. Each course is judged by both judges, each scoring separately. If all goes according to plan, and hares and weather cooperate, this final phase may be completed while there is still some daylight left on the third day. In 2010 we were less fortunate, and it was early afternoon on the fourth day before we were done. The cumulative scores are then tabulated to give placements 1 through 10.
  Below are some photographs illustrating different phases of the Grand Course 2010.    

The"gallery" spread out across the field in the hope of flushing hares.


Another view of the "gallery" - near the righthand end of the row, three Borzoi in slips.


Three Greyhounds in slips, for the first course of the Greyhound Breed hunt on the first day. From right to left as you view the picture are George Bell with Ruby Too in yellow, Bob Bulman with Devil in pink, and John Burchard with Fanny in blue.

We are walking on an elevated farm road along a dike. To our right, well below the level of the road, is an irrigation channel full of water. The field, with the gallery walking along beside us, is to our left, also below the level of the road, out of sight to the right of the photo.


Two Greyhounds in hot pursuit. The hare is partly visible behind a small bush, just in front of the pink-blanketed Greyhound.

The Greyhounds in this and the next two photos are Drummer (pink), Miss Muffet (yellow) and Fenix (blue).


A few seconds later in the same course. The hare is out of sight behind a bush, just in front of the pink-blanketed Greyhound.


Another few seconds later. The hare is now clearly visible at right of the picture, and pulling away from the hounds.


Three Salukis in slips during the Saluki Breed portion of the event. From right to left are Karen Chen with Reta (Grand Course winner 2007) in yellow blanket, Joe Takacs with Khufu in pink, and Fiona Bennett with Sophia in blue.


In the final "mixed" phase, on the line are a Greyhound (in yellow), an Irish Wolfhound (in pink) and a Saluki (in blue).

The Greyhound is Huntington's Fantasia (Fanny), the eventual winner of the NOFCA Grand Course 2010.


The Top Ten winners of the NOFCA Grand Course 2010, from left to right:

1. Fanny (Greyhound)

2. Pulsar (Saluki)

3. Harley (Saluki)

4. Miss Muffet (Greyhound)

5. EZ (Whippet)

6. Pagliacci (Whippet)

7. Ruby Too (Greyhound)

8. Zoomi (Saluki)

9. Datura (Whippet)

10. Oberon (Saluki)

At left and right are the judges, Al Crume and Steve Downs


Three Greyhound litter sisters, left to right:

Miss Muffet

Ruby Too (Grand Course winner 2009)

Fanny (Grand Course winner 2010)

Photograph taken in the field, immediately after completion of the last day's courses.