The judges comments
was an honour indeed to be invited to judge the Finals of
the PRO Dogs Breed Final this year and to remember with some
degree of nostalgia of having attended this very same event,
then held in the evening, in 1981 when the late great Catherine
Sutton was judging.
Exciting though it all was then, it could never have been described as glamorous, unlike the well organised competition held amidst luxurious surroundings at Sandown Park this year ...... so high was the degree of service that everyone lunching had a napkin inividually laid over their knees!
There was only one absentee from the 25 qualified finalists, which was particularly impressive in view of the somewhat ominous forecast of penetrating cold possibly accompanied by light snow showers. These latter never actually materialised although there was a decided chill in the air.
It is always difficult organising this kind of canine event in a large, fully carpeted room normally used as a function or dining room but there was ample space between the tables for even the larger breeds to stride out fully and enough room up at the top to be able to stand back to assess movement in profile.
The competition was initially judged in two halves, those chosen from each of the heats meeting in the final. This system seemed to work well, appearing to be more logical than the, perhaps more usual, knock-out-match type of event, which can often result in the best meetng the best in the early rounds.. First, announced by Bernard Hall, all 24 dogs went round the ring and most impressive they were too - all, without exception, beautifully presented.
The first 12 came back to be judged and I shortlisted five:.
Lhasa Apso, Askja Place the Face. Very glamorous and well balanced, presented to perfection.
English Setter, Abbeysett Paperback Writer. Built on classic flowing lines and such a superb free mover
Shetland Sheepdog, Joliet Jake of Castlerose, JW Beautifully balanced and a joy to handle under his superb full coat. Charming head and expression, never put a paw wrong in movement or showmanship.
Dalmatian, Offordale Rialto. Well built , looking as if she could go all day with her sound. free effortless stride.
Golden Retriever, Stanroph Endelwood Natasha, JW This two year old simply stole my heart!
Not only is she beautifully made but is joy to watch on the move both up, down and in profile.
The second 12 then entered the ring and, again, the shortlist was five:
Dobermann, Dantes Glory, JW Most impressive in build, so sound, strong and in the hardest of muscular condition with tight feet..
English Springer, Cobhay Sweet William. Masculine, well made and such a good mover.
Standard Poodle, Ch. Penling By Design at Namkia. Here was quality! I judged this handsome dog as a youngster two years ago and loved him then. He has now matured close to perfection in the hardest of muscular condition and is so well conformed under his superb coat.. Up on his tight feet and raring to go, a study in controlled energy, his dark expressive eyes full of fire.. He moved with great impulsion and drive.
Newfoundland, Ch. Mountcook Tiger Lily, Imp. Strong, beautifully made bitch with free, sound effortless movement.
Flatcoated Retriever, Sh. Ch. Ghilgrange Magic Magician. Great showman with a lovely outline and balance. Super mover.
Having moved them all around the ring together, then individually, I further whittled them down to four: the black Standard Poodle, Sheltie, Golden Retriever and Dalmatian.
Another circuit of the ring and finally it just had to be the Poodle, Ch. Penling By Design at Namkia showing his heart out to win the title of PRO Dog of the Year Breed Winner 2002 with the Sheltie, Joliet Jake of Castlerose, JW in the Reserve spot, just scoring over the other two in maturity and perfection of showmanship but it was a hard decision.
Thank you to all the organisers for a most exciting and memorable day with great hospitality and marvellous dogs.