History of the Cocker Spaniel Club


Mrs Lucas-Lucas with her Cocker, Sixshot Sugar Bird, and Mr Hunt Hickin,
who was the referee at the championship show held at Ascot in 1953


THE CENTENARY celebrations of the Cocker Spaniel Club coincided with the 70th anniversary of its first independent championship show. The Club had organised members shows from as early as 1910, and had held championship events in conjunction with two or three general societies.

The year 1930 saw the introduction of a summer open show which was repeated the following year and the success of these led, in 1932, to championship status which the club has enjoyed, with the exception of the war years, ever since.

Although some aspects of the show scene seem to have changed little over the years, others were obviously very different. It seems strange to realise that the show was held on a Tuesday, the day before a general championship show at Windsor; most exhibitors attended both shows.

The classification was fairly extensive with 17 classes for each sex, 12 of which were divided by colour, and ten more for members only. The prize money and entry fees for the main classes were standard for the time – £2, £1 and 10 shillings for a half guinea entry per class, but the members classes had reduced entry fees for increased prize money to fifth place. No doubt this helped draw the 562 entries claimed as a world record at the time. Second, third or more repeat entries were common so the number of individual dogs would have been far short of this years amazing total.

The show, which was held at Silverlands, Chertsey, on 7th June enjoyed brilliant sunshine. Mr Lloyd had already been secretary for 11 years, would the sun dare to do anything but shine? There was, apparently, just one ring with bitches judged first. Mr F Bloxham judged these and was obviously pleased with the quality and believed that at least a score deserved the CC.

Surprisingly, few went on to win one. Sh Ch Falconers Caraway won on the day, but more interesting n the younger entry were Falconers Chita, who won her title as a junior the next day and later played a part in developing an already influential bitch line, Vanity of Misbourne and the winner of the black puppy class, Treetops Treasure Trove, who carved her own place in the history of solids. All three would be well represented in the extended pedigrees of this year’s entry.

Mr C V Barraclough judged dogs and started at 4pm! He had 204 entries, with the members classes to follow so had no time to make notes. Notes or not, he still managed to write a considered and constructive report which would put many of the present day to shame. His top winner, and eventual BIS was Sh Ch Whoopee of Ware.

It is safe to say that all of this year’s entry, solid or parti-colours or the blacks seem to have become major stud forces but the red/golden classes produced some which made their mark on the colour in Gold Standard of Ware, Woodcock Promise, Overdale Attaboy and two Ottershaws, Cedar and Gigolo. At that time the colour would have been at an interesting stage of its development, and both judges, particularly Mr Bloxham, praised exhibits for being rich or dark in colour, with one bitch being criticised for not having the colour of the winners. The Red and Golden Club was just four years old; it had some PR work ahead.

Two more shows were held at Silverlands with the classification being extended to 55 classes including a special section for orange/lemon and white or roan. Two rings were in use by this time, but late finishes were still the order of the day. Mrs Jamieson Higgins, judging bitches in 1934, insisted this was not her fault, but due to the inability of exhibitors to be in two places at once. They are still working on that!

In 1935, the club moved the show to Ascot Wood which was to become its home, with just one excursion, for the next 35 years. Classifications varied a little, entries increased steadily and Field Trial Classes were introduced for the first time. Then, as later, support for these was patchy. Five shows were held there before the war and saw Whoopee complete three victories to be followed by his daughter, Sh Ch Exquisite Model of Ware, who won three years in succession up to the war, the only other dog to feature more than once was Ch Golhill Eclipse.

Elected

Judges at that time were nominated and elected by the members, and of the eight shows held pre-war, Mrs Jamieson Higgens judged three and Mr A B Nicol.son two. Most of the the other appointments went to older, established judges but in 1939, a young Mrs W de Casembroot was elected to judge bitches – the first of many such engagements with the club.

When championship shows resumed in 1946, the shortage of benching meant that only breed clubs were granted status that year. The first to hold its show was , appropriately, the parent club. The early Jude mid-week date was retained and Mr H Scott, judging here for the second time, took dogs and Mrs Jamieson Higgins (again!) bitches. Hyperion of Ware won in dogs and Mrs Ethel McGladery from Belfast won her first ever CC with Harmac Hycilla. Both dogs and bitch went on to make up but sadly neither is represented in modern day pedigrees.

The 1940s and 50s saw Sh Ch Tracey Witch of Ware and Ch Oxshott Marxedes win three certificates each and brought first CC wins for Mr G Dance (Cartref) and Mrs M Wright (Dalcross). Miss Macmillan made up her first bitch in 1950, the golden Sh Ch Lochranza Lisbon Story, whose descendants were to give the kennel a string of successes in later years.

In 1951, stud dog and brood bitch classes were introduced. The bitch section was poorly supported but the dogs created a great deal of interest and provided one unexpected problem when Mrs Gold’s Marxedes, entered with his own progeny, was required in his sire’s team. For the first, and probably only, time an exhibitor mastered the art of being in two places at once. Mrs Higgens did not live to see it, but would surely have approved.

Falconers Mark of Ware was the winner with Treetops Foxbar Cognac as runner up. Some indication of the impact this class had at the time can be seen in the advertisements for the ensuing year; Mark was advertised as the leading sire and Cognac as the top solid stud. No league tables then – it was the Cocker Club’s stud dog classes that counted. Cognac won in 1952 so that took care of another year’s advertising. These classes drew varied support over the year, were dropped, revived and dropped again. It is good to see them back in the schedule for the centenary show; perhaps they will become a regular feature again.

For its golden jubilee show in 1952, the club moved forward to May 27th, but retained the Tuesday tradition with the annual dinner held on the eve of the show. Thirty-nine classes attracted 641 entries, and the list of specials, while not equalling that in this year’s schedule, was very impressive for an early post-war show. M Daniel-Lacombe, from France, judged dogs and Mr A H Gold bitches. M Lacombe had judged in England b efore but this was the first time that many spectators had seen him in action. The image of a large judge sitting on a small stool in the middle of the ring is not easily forgotten. BIS was Sh Ch Joywyns Blueboy of Ware who went on to become an influential sire and the winning b itch, Sh Ch Broomleaf Ballet Shoes, played an important part in developing a line which provided many future Cocker Club winners for Mrs Doxford. Judging was not completed until 8pm.

In 1953, in common with many others, the club could not resist calling its show the Coronation Championship. For the first item the club moved from Tuesday to Friday, the day before the revived Windsor championship show and for this single occasion shared Ascot Wood with the Labrador Retrieve Club’s championship show. The dinner, still termed the banquet, was held on the Thursday evening; it must have been a slightly different affair from those we are used to today. replying to the toast to the club president, Capt George commented that cockers of the day were no better than they had been 30 years earlier; long backs, flat sides and bad hind action were much too prevalent and in his opinion judging had not improved either.

He was probably glad to get that off his chest; maybe he got his answer the next day when the judges, Miss Hahn (dogs) and Mr J H Braddon came up with a pair of short-backed, big-ribbed, strong quartered cockers in Ch Colinwood Haybury Howitzer and Sh Ch Sixshot Sugar Bird. They required the services of the referee, who that year was Mr J Hunt Hicken, the only surviving founder-member of the club. He awarded BIS to Sugar Bird, surprisingly the only major cocker club win for Sixshot; Howitzer’s was the first of many for Colinwood.

The show stayed at Ascot until the late 1960s and the list of winners over these years reads as the history of the breed – Broomleaf, Cochise, Colinwood, Dellah, Gatehampton, Glencora, Quettadene, Ronfil, Springbank, Ware and Weirdene all feature in the major awards, but that period provided first CC wins for prefixes which were to become household names. In 1954, Miss D Robinson won BIS with Golden filed Benito and repeated the win the following year with his half-sister Sh Ch G Merry Maiden. Mrs M Robinson won the first Craigleith CC in 1957 with Geisha Girl and 1959 saw two first-timers in Mr L McCormack’s Lyncrst Lanza and Mr & Mrs Wise’s Astrawin Aphrodite who was BIS and returned to win another certificate in 1963. The other newcomer in this period was Mrs E Caffyn with Carmabar Glengharrie in 1962. Following the death of his owner, the dog changed hands and returned two years later to become the first Sh Ch for Jack and Ron Clarke (Cornbow). The Ascot years saw Ch Collinwood Silver Lariot join the select list of those who won BIS on three occasions and, in 1961, the last of Mr Lloyd’s major winners, Mighty Rare of Ware.

Judges at this time were still nominated and elected by the members, a practice which continued up to the early 1970s. The most frequently selected were Mrs de Casembroot, Mrs Gold and Miss Hahn. All three ladies were championship show judges before the war. Then, as now, there were complaints about the ‘same old faces’ judging but, given the opportunity to choose their own judges, members invariably voted for the tried and trusted.

Ascot has always been remembered as the garden party show in sunshine and usually it was, but in 1968 the weather was unkind in the extreme, and the shortcomings of the venue were seen for the first time. The entry required two marquees and th path between them soon resembled the Cresta run.

Mrs Caddy, judging dogs, managed to keep her ring an island of green in a sea of mud, but Mr Thomas, judging on the lower part of the ground was less fortunate. It must have taken all the skills of Mrs Marion France and team Macmillan to present Ch Peelers Cornbow Myth and Sh Ch Lochranza Strollaway (BIS) in such pristine condition at the end of that day. This was the first time the club included PRA testing as part of the show. Mrs Cloke lent her caravan to be used for this, it was towed out of the mud sometime the next week. Ascot Wood had served the club well for over thirty years, but the facilities would not meet the requirements of today’s exhibitor or even those of a friendly Field Officer. It was time to retain the happy memories and move on.

The first move to Windlesham fared no better. Another day of heavy rain saw the water rising and bitch judging was completed between the benches – the only dryish spot.

Obedience classes for cockers were included at this show. they were not repeated; anyone who has seen the expression on the face of a cocker asked to do a down-stay in two inches of water will understand why.

Strollaway scored a second BIS and the Wise’s won in bitches with Astrawin Airsprite. Apart from these two owners, the happiest person was Mrs Cameron (Lochnell) who was able to resurrect her rally-driving skills to leave the car park. Nearly everyone else relied on the help of Richmond Weir and/or a tractor to get them on the road.

One last visit to Ascot, when the sun shone all day to remind us of what we would be missing, was followed by a trip to a rather gloomy hall in Slough over which it is better to draw a veil.

In 1972, the show moved to Cheltenham racecourse, where it settled happily for a few years. The first shows here saw the remarkable double act of Sh Ch Lochranza Newsprint and Ch Bournehouse Starshine who won the certificates for three years in a row.

Starshine missed the next year but came back to take a fourth CC (with BIS) in 1976. That is a record which will take some beating. Other prefixes to figure in the major awards at this time were Bitcon (with three different bitches), Broomleaf, Misbourne, Quettadene, Ronfil, Sorbrook, Styvechale and Westdyke. Miss O Tennant collected her first CC in 1977.

Two other venues were tried at this time – first a sports centre where Mrs D Barney became the first person to breed both winners in her own, Sh Ch Cilleine Echelon and the Webster’s Sh Ch gemma of Asquanne. BIS went to the one that got away. Next came Newark showground for the 80th anniversary celebrations which produced another memorable show with endless specials but rather disappointing support. Cocker exhibitors probably don’t like too much change – for both shows, one or two arrived red faced, breathless and late, having been to Cheltenham first. Echelon won another ticket at Newark with BIS going to Miss P Becker’s Olanza Pure Magic who was just out of puppy.

Home

Alterations to the racecourse left the club looking for a new venue, so, after one more show at Cheltenham, it was on to Malvern where, with a few exceptions, it has been ever since. Even the Ascotphiles are beginning to think of it as home; the neighbours can be a little odd at time, but maybe they think the same of us!

In 1984, Mrs S Hackett was the first to win a Cocker Club ticket with a puppy in Lindridge Gypsy girl. The BIS that day, Mr P Lester’s Quettadene Emblem was not much older.

Between them these two have been responsible for many subsequent winners. The following years saw Echelon collect his third Cocker Club CC, Mrs S young won BIS with a puppy in Canyonn Carolina Moon and, in 1990, Mrs Hackett achieved the double – the first since 1937 – and the only time both were home bred. This was with Sh Ch Lindridge Salute and Sh Ch Lindridge Vanity Fair, a son and grand-daughter of Gypsy Girl. In later years, Vanity Fair’s son, Sh Ch Lindridge Topgun scored twice and the two blacks who dominated the bitch ring for so long won a BIS apiece in the Webster’s Sh Asquanne’s Grainne and Mrs Lester’s Sh Ch Quettadane Mystique.

As you come up to date, everyone will have their memories of recent years. Perhaps these will include Sh Ch Canigou Cambrai’s ‘retirement’ BIS,.when a presentation was made to mark his achievement of BIS at Crufts or Sh Ch Wiljana Waterfall going BIS before she went on to almost achieve the same, or Sh Ch Perrytree Sun Creamer collecting BIS on his way to the record for a golden cocker. Other prefixes, some old and some new, to reach the top in recent years include Bitcon, Cardamine, Cassom, Classicway, Cosalta, Judika, Lochdene, Lynwater, Matterhorn, Mistfall, Olanza, Platonstonw, Sorbrook, Teifi, Wensum, Whipspan and Withiflor and in 1995 mrs S Pudney won her first ever CC with Cascadia Caution to the Wind. The new century opened with Sh Ch Charbonnel Warlord winning BIS twice.

Of course the Cocker Spaniel Club does much more than organise its show, and although a centenary is a tempting time to look back, it’s a better time to look forward. In the coming years, the officers and committee will have to face problems the founding fathers could not have imagined. They will cope, they always have. Let’s wish them well.



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