European Retriever Championship


Les McLean

I was born in Thurso, North Scotland, and grew up in a country pursuits environment.

I moved to Inverness in the early 1980s and worked as a scaffolding supervisor.

I have always been involved with gundogs, starting my competing journey with a German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP).

My interest in gundogs led to training Retrievers and finding success in my first trial in 1990.

Since then, I have continued competing and have achieved a number of accolades, including:

Field Trial Winner (FTW)
3 Field Trial Champions (FTCh)
2nd place in the British Retriever Championship
Furthermore, I achieved Top Dog at the following events:

CLA Game Fair
Skinners World Cup
Welsh International Game Fair.
I have had the honour of representing the Scotland Gundog Team on numerous occasions, and have judged the British Retriever Championship, as well as trials in Britain, Europe, and Scandinavia.

May this be an enjoyable event.

Wishing all the best of luck from the Scottish Highlands to the competitors.

Roddy Forbes

Roddy Forbes has been involved with working gundogs for well over forty years. He retired from his job as Headkeeper/Sporting Manager on a large sporting estate near Inverness in February last year. He worked on the same estate for 42 years.

He won his first field trial in 1983 with Carnochway Roy. Among the dogs he has competed with are FTCH Carnochway Daniel, FTCH Tesco Broomtip of Carnochway, Carnochway Cane, FTW GlenPatrick Mica of Carnochway, OFTW Millbuies Gilbert of Carnochway, and many others.

Roddy has judged throughout Europe and has judged the IGL Retriever Championship 4 times. He has also judged the Irish Championship. He was Scottish Team Captain for 3 years, winning the Skinners World Cups 2018 & 19, and the IWT in Holland 2019. He also served on the Kennel Club Field Trial committee and the IGL committee.

He was one of the founders of the Moray Firth Spaniel & Retriever Club in 1988 and is the present chairman. The Carnochway affix is shared with his son Fraser, who is a professional gundog trainer.

Roddy is delighted to be one of the judges for this prestigious event and wishes the best of luck to all competitors.

Fons Exelmans

I bought my first Labrador in 1987 to have a pleasant companion. With this dog, I attended obedience classes and followed a course on hunting for retrievers. That’s how I ended up in the world of working retrievers.

I run my dogs in working tests and field trials. I have made up some Belgian and international field trial champions. I take special pride in representing my country at international events. Winning the Coupe d’Europe three times with the Belgian team is something I cherish. In the last three years, I was a member of the Belgian team at the IWTs. Twice we came second, and in 2022, we won.

Regularly, people invite me for seminars or training days. I regard installing confidence in a dog through carefully taking small steps towards the goal as the bottom line in training.

Picking up with friends and our dogs during the hunting season gives me a lot of pleasure.

I love retrievers that hunt the area thoroughly and with determination, and – when necessary – respond well to the help given by their handler.

I look forward to judging the ICC in collaboration with my fellow judges. I wish all the competitors a challenging competition, and may the best dog and handler win.

Pieter Vivijs

I grew up with labradors, but they were not used for shooting. First of all they were pets but my father was involved in a local obedience club and it was there that my fascination for training dogs started. Today I have been involved in training retrievers for over 25 years. I started out with Flatcoated retrievers and had reasonable succes with them on working tests and novice field trials.

The last years I only have Labrador and Golden retrievers and made up 6 field trial champions until now:

  • FT Ch. Mansengreen Dizzy – “Dizzy”
  • FT Ch. Deeplake Grono – “Grando”
  • Int FT Ch. Danestone Tweed – “Tweed”
  • Int FT Ch. Cool Face Arlet Star – “Face”
  • Int FT Ch. Think Twice Uh La La La – “Carrie”
  • Int FT Ch. Abbotsleigh Niger – “Shelby”

I have won the Belgian Championship two times and came 2nd twice, having qualified 6 different dogs over the years. At the Coupe d’ Europe 2015 in Sweden I was part of the winning Belgian team and came 2nd individually with Tweed. At the European Championship I have represented Belgium in 2016, 2018, 2019, 2022 and had the honour to judge it in Hungary in 2021. I gained a 2nd place with Face in Denmark 2018 and with Carrie in Spain 2019.

It has been an unbelievable experience, being the first Belgian handler to qualify for the IGL Retriever Championship in the UK in 2018 and again in 2021 with Carrie.

In 2022 I was part of the winning Belgian team with Shelby at the IWT in Austria and with the same team we took 2nd place the year after at the IWT in Sweden.

In the 2022-2023 season I qualified 2 dogs for the Austrian-Hungarian Championship and was happy to take first place with Shelby and 4th place with Think Twice One Man Show – “Billy” who also managed to gain a B-qualification for the IGL Retriever Championship, all in his first season.

Since 2013 I’m judging working tests and field trials and since 2015 I’m an official FCI judge. I have judged all over Europe and in the United Kingdom. Competing and judging are a lot of fun, but most of all I enjoy going out training with friends and shooting over my own dogs.

Furthermore I’m a member of the field trial committee of the Belgian Labrador Retriever Club, president of the retriever commission in the Belgian Kennel Club and of the FCI Retriever Commission, trying to give back to the sport.

I’m honoured and looking forward to judge the European Retriever Championship for the second time and wish everyone 2 fantastic days.