By Tom Word
When I read that Hightest Sky Hawk had won the 2008 Invitational at Paducah, I felt several emotions—a wish I had seen it, disbelief (Mr. Arthur and JD’s ghosts wouldn’t have allowed it), and joy.  Joy that a setter had won the toughest of all-age trials, four hours head-to-head against the eleven other top dogs.  And hope—hope that a setter could once again win the National Championship, an event unseen since 1970.
I have seen Sky Hawk only once, in the video of the 2008 National Championship.  In his brief moments there, he demonstrates he has the style and the gait.  At Paducah he proved he has the stamina and consistency.  Will he have enough of that most important ingredient, luck, remains to be seen.  But like old-time setter men everywhere, I now have hope, thanks to Hightest Sky Hawk.
I have never met Sky Hawk’s owner, Bill Elliott, and I own no dog closely related to Sky Hawk.  I have never had a dog with Sky Hawk’s handler, Ray Warren, though he did serve as my paramedic in taking me to the emergency room at Paducah after a horse wreck (I woke up in the cab of his pickup not knowing where I was for a moment).  But like all lovers of the English setter, I wish Sky Hawk and Messrs. Elliott and Warren good luck at Grand Junction.  In these depressing times, the sport needs the magic of a setter win at the Ames Plantation.