Crufts juniors provide a competitive edge!
by Nancy Bassant
I think another well-earned break is in order for everyone after the whirlwind
that was this years Crufts! One thing we can safely say though (as long
as we dont have anymore crises) is that next years Crufts is going to
be here quicker than ever!
I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, those of you who were competing certainly showed how hard youve all been working with your dogs! This year was an eye opener for me, it was quite exciting going as a press reporter, the badge, the fame the fortune, well the badge at least, Im still working on the fame bit! Just before we get onto the exciting stuff I must just first thank the Naylors for allowing me to stay with them and create their normally sane world into total chaos and madness (I love it!)!
So its 4 o clock Friday morning (for some of you it was probably earlier!) and its the only weekend in the whole year that I can feel positive about awaking at this hour! Then the decision of what to wear, anyway to cut a long story short it was a taxi and then a train to the NEC where I met my Mum and off we went to Crufts, at last! Its funny trying to make yourself sound important to your Mum and she blatantly knew that I was exaggerating, well only slightly!
The event to kick off the KCJO ring this year was the Test of Obedience, something I competed in at past Crufts (dont laugh!) and thoroughly enjoyed. There were seven regions competing and the judge for all the KCJO obedience was Miss Pat Wilson who judged the Obedience Championships last year.
All the competitors were put through their paces and the scores were added up and the awards presented. This years winner of the Test of Obedience was 15 year old Helen Evans from Wales with her three-year-old crossbreed. There was a big cheer when she won so she must have brought a lot of support with her! After the competition I had a chat with Helen and I discovered that this was her first year competing at Crufts - WOW, what an achievement! She said she was really was pleased about winning and hopes to come back next year to retain her title (I dont blame her!).
Although this was Helens first year competing at Crufts she told me she has been training her Nanas dog since she was nine. She also told me that when she started training a lady called Jackie Major spotted her potential as an obedience handler and has been training Helen ever since. I think looking at Helens success Jackie was definitely right about her potential! Helens advice to any other juniors aiming for success in obedience is fun training and the support of your family. Well done to Helen and I will certainly be looking forward to seeing her at Crufts next year.
So Id completed my first interview and it went ok, great looks like its going to be easier than I expected! A bit of a break now until later on and the KCJO Show Handler of the Year competition which was judged by Geoff Corish who, himself had a successful Crufts this year winning the Terrier Group. The overall winner was Adam Rose who I spoke to on Monday after what he says was the best weekend of his life! Also in this event was the Question Time Trophy which this year was won by Matthew Hoddy.
On to Saturday and thankfully not such an early start! Geoff Corish was once again needed in the KCJO ring to judge the Seniors and the 18+s. I competed in the senior class myself and thoroughly enjoyed it and was even short-listed to the last 12. The standard in this class, I thought, was pretty high and the eventual winner was Kirstie Venton with a Shetland Sheepdog. The 18+ section was won by Helena Hutchings who also won the overall competition. Funnily enough Helena was representing Monaco in the International so she was having a pretty hectic weekend!
Later on that day the Advanced Obedience took place. The winner was 13 year old Sophie Jeffries with her seven year old Working Sheepdog Floss. Sophie told me that Floss had a new collar and lead especially for Crufts. She also said this is her second time as winner in this event and owes a lot of it to her Mum Phil Jeffries. It sounds like having a talent for obedience is in the genes as on the same day her Mum came third in the Obedience Championship.
I dont know what it is about me but I always seem to attract amusement. This year on Saturday night after the best in show rehearsals, myself and the Naylors headed out for a shuttle bus. On the bus we realised that we didnt have a clue where the car was parked and had to play guess which car park! We left the bus thinking everything was fine and dandy until I realised I had lost my bag (which contained everything necessary for my survival!) and that it was probably on the bus. We all bundled in the car not knowing whether to laugh or cry and decided to get back to the entrance where the bus would surly be headed. On our way we spotted what we thought was the bus in question and turned on our heels to follow it, until we reached a traffic island where we could see three identical buses all headed in different directions! Having picked one we ended up chasing the bus half way round the NEC to discover it was the wrong one! Of course while this was going on there was the sound of the all too familiar cries of Oh Nancy! We were eventually able to meet the bus having spoken to a very helpful chap who worked at the bus depot. The driver as well as having my bag also had the funniest expression of amazement at this daft women standing in front of him who didnt even seem to have a clue what day it was!
Onto Sunday and the recent introduction of Intermediate Obedience, a good idea to bridge the formally large gap between Test of and Advanced. The winner this year was Richard Burbridge from Coventry and his dog Sally. He told me how pleased he was and would like to thank Phil Jeffries for helping him with his training. He said he has won out Pre-beginners and Beginners with Sally and last year in the competition she broke her stays. Id say she made up for it this year, well done Richard!
Monday already! First event was the Senior Obedience won by Edinburghs Gemma Lewis and her Border Collie Gwen. She said despite being a Senior it doesnt feel like shes ever been out of it as she was still a junior last year! Gemma told me she is working C with Gwen, A with Gwens son Murphy and hopes to one day qualify for the Obedience Championships here at Crufts. One thing Gemma did say was how relaxed the Seniors were; either that or they have improved at hiding their nerves! Gemma wanted to thank both Kathy Ingham and Kate Herron for their help and East Kilbride Training Club for the support and encouragement.
The Quadrathlon and the Triathlon Finals were both held on Monday. Nicola Hall, with Tibetan Terrier Lacey won the Quad and Nicola was definitely pleased with the result. She said her favourite section is the breed, particularly as Lacey won BOB at Crufts last year.
Victoria Glanville won the Tri with Border Collie Flash and she was chuffed as well! Victoria, however, said her favourite is agility and said if she were to carry on in dogs it would be in the agility field.
Interestingly both girls commented on the emphasis they had put on training when Crufts was scheduled for March. The saying that cancelling the show everything had gone pear-shaped. Mind you they both came through it with flying colours so well done to them!
The last juniors I discuss here are two lads who have had an exceptional Crufts, both representing their country in the International Junior Handler of the Year Competition which is by no means easy. First up is Adam Rose who won not only the KCJO Junior handling Final on Friday but also Junior of the Year and the KCJO Gundog Stakes as well as a not to be frowned on fifth in his breed class! Adam said at times it felt like a dream but he certainly enjoyed himself! In the International he showed a GSP and a Dandie Dinmont which he found hard to manage as it is such a different breed to what he is used to. He cant have done that badly though as the short-listed him to the last 10 - well done Adam!
The second is James Newman who represented Ireland under Judge Mari-Beth ONeill (USA). He showed a Pomeranian and a Weimaraner which although a little tricky to start with, he soon got the hang of! This was proven when after being short-listed the American judge selected him as 2001s International Junior Handler of the Year. James couldnt believe it and would like to thank Averil Cawthera-Purdy for allowing her Pomeranian to be used in the competition and also Pedigree. In the future James would like to study business at College and become a Professional Handler, something which Im sure hell achieve. A worthy winner with the biggest smile of the show, well done James!
So there it was 2001 the year at Crufts in which the lads certainly proved themselves. Well done to all of you and heres to next year!