What are the qualities a huntsman seeks when breeding to improve the pack? Demonstrated drive, great voice, and durable conformation are surely near the top of any list, and several huntsmen have found all these traits in Hillsboro Brighton '12. A recent online discussion of his pedigree and his progeny led us to ask Hillsboro Hounds (TN) huntsman Johnnie Gray and his wife, Leilani, about this exceptional doghound.

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Brighton is ready to show why he's in demand. Photo courtesy of the Grays.

"Brighton came to us as part of a draft from the North Cotswold (UK)," Gray said. "From day one, he impressed me with his outgoing nature. He is always a happy hound, but when he is out hunting he turns into a lion. I've never seen a dog so intense when it comes to trying to catch a coyote. Nigel Peel, MFH at North Cotswold at the time, said the same about Brighton's sire, North Cotswold Bodmin '10.

"Brighton is a deep-chested hound with great stamina and a booming voice. He is not 100% correct, so we were slow to use him as a stud dog. After six seasons he is showing wear and tear, especially in his feet, but he still has drive and all of his get have that same hunting drive with big voices."

While his conformation may not be textbook perfect, Brighton nonetheless won the Benjamin H. Hardaway, III, Perpetual Trophy at the 2016 Virginia Foxhound Show as the Champion Performance Trial Hound. He had qualified for the championship with a third place finish over at Belle Meade's performance trial, earning high points in the hunting, trailing, full cry, and endurance categories.

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Brighton winning the Hardaway Performance Hound trophy at the 2016 Virginia Foxhound Show. Photo by Liz Callar.

Leilani said, "We have one litter to enter this year by Brighton, including Britain and Bryant [out of their Graphic '14]. We are very excited about this pair; they are Crossbred and very much the type of hound we are trying to produce. Britain was Unentered Champion at the Southern Hound Show and Unentered Crossbred Champion at Virginia. Bryant was second to Britain at the Southern Hound Show in the Unentered Dog class, and third to him in Virginia. The pair won the Unentered Couples classes at both shows."

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Britain and Bryant will be entered at Hillsboro this season. Photo by Leslie Shepherd.

Tot Goodwin, recently retired huntsman of the Green Creek Hounds (NC) has used Brighton twice for his hunting drive. But he's found success on the boards also: son Green Creek Badger '17 [out of Lowcountry Bridgett '10] won the restricted Single Entered Dog class at the Southern Hound Show.

Longtime Mooreland Hunt (AL) huntsman Rhodri Jones-Evans has gone to Brighton three times for his "work ethic," reporting that he successfully passes this trait on to his get. He said, "I first saw Brighton hunt back in 2013 when I visited with Johnnie for a hunt. He caught my eye at the meet because he showed presence, knew what the game was about and was raring to go. What I liked the most about him was the way he drew the coverts, he was like a spaniel quartering - not leaving a stone unturned or a thicket untouched."

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Mooreland Bison '17, by Brighton out of Mooreland Whisper '13. Photo by Rachael Phillips Wallis.

Jones-Evans added, "I tried to keep my eye on him for the rest of the day, but Hillsboro country doesn't make that so easy. I did get to see them trail through a thick briar patch and take a line away over to the next hill, and Brighton was up there on the front end giving it plenty. Breeding was getting a little tight at Mooreland, and I was looking for an outcross. From what I'd seen of Brighton he was the one I wanted to use.

"His first litter out of Mooreland Desire '09 we only had four pups, two of which I gave to Hillsboro. Our Draco and Droplet entered well, and as the season went on you could see Brighton's influence coming out. They drew big and thorough and drove their coyote hard. The second litter was to Mooreland Whisper '13 and again I gave two of these to Hillsboro and kept five back myself. This litter entered last season, and same as the first cross, they entered well, drawing big and driving their coyote - the dogs having pretty good voices but the females a little sharp."

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Billabong '17, by Brighton out of Mooreland Whisper '13. Photo by Rachael Phillips Wallis.

Looking ahead, Jones-Evans said, "I will have a litter entering this coming season out of Droplet. They have already been to a coyote pen and shown a lot of promise. I have also a third litter by Brighton that are four months old. I'm really excited about them, as the dam has similar qualities to him. I plan to use either Bison or Billabong in the near future."

The future looks bright at Hillsboro, as the Grays report they have young puppies from two Brighton litters to enter in 2019. "Our most recent litter by Brighton (just about three months old) is out of our Bridget '13, whose bloodlines go back 40+ years with Hillsboro," explains Gray. "She is an exceptional hound who was fourth at the Massbach Hounds & Fox River Valley Hounds performance trial in September of 2017. It is an exciting litter (12!) for us to maintain the old tried-and-true bloodlines with a cross on a dog like Brighton."

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