1. What is your goal for this Gamblers run? Do you want to practice contacts? Weaves? A sequence that may be coming up in another class? Do you just want to gather as many points as possible? With your goal in mind, plan your course accordingly. No matter what your goal is for the run, one thing that makes it easier on you and your dog is to plot a course that has as much flow as possible.
2. The course map will specify how much time there is in the opening. How many obstacles can your dog do in that amount of time? You can get a rough estimate by looking at your times in various Standard or Regular runs and dividing your dog's time by the number of obstacles on the course. I figure it takes 2+ seconds an obstacle for Belle. For the weaves and dogwalk, I add another second.
3. Where does the gamble begin? What angle you want to start it from? Remember where you want to start from when the whistle blows. Chances are pretty good you will have plenty of time for the gamble even if it takes you two or three seconds to get to the spot you wanted to start from.
4. It is best not to use the weaves or the dogwalk as one of your last obstacles since they take extra time to complete. An exception to that would be if when your dog finishes either obstacle, she is in a perfect position to start the gamble.
5. Don't run out of obstacles. Try to plan for two or three obstacles more just in case your dog is really flying today. The course I plan is almost invariably too long. With the course I set up today, I was spot on, but that was cutting it too close since there were no obstacles close by to finish out the opening if they had been needed.)
I set up this course designed by Frank Holik:
My first instinct was to open on the left, but then I realized that opening on the right was much faster and it earned 9 points vs. 8 for the left side opening. (There are no spreads in Performance.) I knew Belle would be really running by the time she got to the dogwalk. (With a faster, more intense dog, the handler might want to open the same way and test her dog's ability to hit the DW contacts. On the other hand, she might decide to start on the left side so that her dog wouldn't be in warp drive when it got to the DW.)
I debated whether or not to include a jump between the DW and teeter to eat up a second or two, and decided against it. (In hindsight, I should have added one on the second loop.) I sent Belle into the tunnel and did the DW and teeter again and then sent her over the jump at (28,72). I was beginning to think my timer had gone to sleep on me when he finally called the start of the Gamble. (He was about two seconds late.) I didn't think Belle took the AF that well, but when I looked at the video it was better than I thought. Rear crossing contacts is just something that Belle has never been trained to accept.
I considered sending Belle over the jump at (28,72) on my right side to begin the gamble, but decided it would give her too much momentum going over the AF and make the closer end of the tunnel just too logical an option. I knew the rear cross would make her pause and wonder where I was going next. (Don't get me wrong. I wish this weren't the case. But since it is, I decided to use it to my advantage.)