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Contest Of Champion Show Dogs
at The Heathrow Park Hotel - on Saturday April 6th 2002

“We are the Champions” - story by Hannah Thompson

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With the show season finally beginning after a very long winter it seemed appropriate that the Contest of Champions 25th Anniversary was bathed by glorious sunshine. Run by the Canine Supporters Charity, the contest last year raised a staggering £14,000 with the beneficiaries being The National Animal Welfare Trust, The University of Glasgow (for research into canine cancer), Labrador Rescue, Warnham animal sanctuary, Greyhound and Lurcher rescue, Pets as Therapy and the Kennel Club Charitable trust.

The event began with the reception that enabled everybody to lighten themselves of their loose change on the once again full tombola, ready to spend some serious money on the after dinner auction. Some of this years auction lots included a signed Teddy Sherringham football shirt, which eventually went for £310, ‘Hearsay’ signed goodies, and three signed football books including one signed by Sven Eriksson the England manager!

Everybody was also invited to participate in the £5 draw, and a delighted Barbara Gold, The Canaan Dog Club Recording Secretary won the beautiful Japanese kennel club illustrated Breed standards.

The winner of the contest of Champions 2002 was the Basset Griffon Vandeen (Petit) Ch. Afterglow Woodywoodpecker, bred by Mr G Robertson and Mike Gadsby and owned by Mr Robertson and Sara Pettit. Sara handled Woody to victory and is seen here with the three judges of the contest, Paula Heikkinen-Lehkonen from Finland, Monique Van Brempt from Belgium and Allonso Thovar y Del Solar from Spain.

The total raised in the auction was £1142 all of which will go to this Year's beneficiaries who include Scottish CKCS rescue, Cambridge University (For research into blood disorders and Leukaemia Diagnostic Techniques), English Springer Spaniel welfare and North West Golden Retriever rescue, to name but a few.

During dinner, the best-dressed bench competition was judged by Peter Purves, although unfortunately very few participated. The winner was the Hungarian wire Haired Viszla's bench, (Silvanus Prince Albert) which was adorned with vast amounts of camouflage and the odd stuffed duck thrown in for good Measure. I am sure he will appreciate the huge bag of food kindly donated By Purina Pro Plan, and I know the owners were delighted with the bottle Of champagne!

Committee member Kevan Forrest gave the loyal toast, and OUR DOGS Managing Director, Vince Hogan, toasted 25-years of the Contest with references to some of the people and dogs which had been involved during that time. He handed over to the Chairman and commentator for the night, Mr David Spencer, who thanked all those involved with the organisation, sponsors and exhibitors.

The auction, conducted by Peter Purves, and ‘Mac’ raised further funds, and then it was on with the show!

This year's Judges were Paula Heikkinen-Lehkonen (Finland), Monique Van Brempt (Belgium) and Allonso Thovar Y Del Solar (Spain), who were faced with the challenge of choosing one dog, from 61 of 2001's top dogs to become the overall Contest of Champion's winner.

* Click here for more information about the judges

The atmosphere during the contest, which was judged on the match system with each round divided equally among the judges, was electric with many of the dogs appearing to thrive on this. After the initial round, the following three progressed quickly with just four finalists left. To increase the anticipation a short respite was taken for both dogs, and judges whilst the Hogsmill dog Training club entertained the crowd.

A delightful performance was provided by the team which included a poodle cross, German spitz' and even an Italian Segugio amongst others, followed by a performance by cheetah the Ibizan hound, winner of three res CC's, proving that dogs can compete in more than one sport!

The final four dogs were soon back in the ring for the final judgement, which was completed, by all three of the judges.

After much deliberation the winner was announced as Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen CH Afterglow Woodywoodpecker. Woody who is owned by Sarah Petit and Gavin Robertson is the winner of 5 CC's, including the CC, BOB and Group 4 at this years Crufts yet still not 2 years old. What a future he must have ahead of him.

The three runners up were:

The homebred Keeshond CH Stratus midnight Legend. Bred and owned by Mrs Lythgoe from her first keeshond litter Taylor has amassed 5 CC's, all with Best of Breed including Crufts 2001, 5 reserve CC's and best in show at the Keeshond club championship show. Due to the lack of homes for male Keeshonds mrs lythgoe kept all three males, with Taylor's brother currently on 2 CC's and 5 reserve CC's and the other brother waiting in the wings.

Photo by David Cavill
The runners up, the Havanese, Mrs Ridley's Palona de Chaponayof Tammylan, the Akita, Mr and Mrs Sadler's Ch Keskai Best of British and the Keeshond, Ch Straus Midnight Legend owned by Mrs Lythgoe. They are seen here with the judges and CSC President Peter Purves and Purina Pro-Plan representative Claire Parry-Baggott, (left).

The successful Havanese Paloma de Chaponay of Tammylan owned by Mrs Ridley.

Paloma is now 10 years old and has been top havanese for the past 5 years, has won best of breed at Crufts twice (classes have only been provided for Havanese in the last 2 years!).

She is also the first Havanese to win a championship show group, and has also won numerous group placements.

And last but by no means least the impressive Akita CH Keskai Best of British who is owned and bred by Mr & Mrs Sadler.

Basha is the winner of 6 CC's all with Best of breed including Crufts 2002.

Another young dog that is only just 2 years old, he has been a finalist for the pet plan junior stakes and was the group winner at South Wales Championship show aged just 16 months.

With the photographs all finished the disco could begin, giving everybody the opportunity to admire each others attire (as most dog folk's normal wardrobe is chosen purely upon the size and quantity of bait pockets, and colours that compliment their dogs It was quite amazing how different everybody can look) and for those that remained sober the opportunity to gain plenty of ammuninition against those that obviously weren't!

A great evening was had by all, and lots of money raised for one of the few "true" canine charities. Lets hope next year is as well attended and supported.

sponsored by

Canine Supporters' Charity

Photo by David Cavill
Karina le Mare and David Spencer cut the enormous 25th anniversary cake.

Photo by David Cavill
The Contest is supported by Purina Pro-Plan, represented this year by Joanna Collett; Claire Parry Baggott; Clair Sivam and partner Kumar Sivam.

* Click here for more information about the judges