Original Supermatch 2002
Report by Juliette Cunliffe
2002 was the first year that Hill's Pet Nutrition had sponsored the South Yorkshire Hound Society's 'Original' Supermatch, the ever-popular event that began in the 1970s. This year, though, was very different, for the venue had been changed to the exceedingly pleasant, spacious and centrally located Stardust venue, which made for great improvements that were appreciated by all.
Upon arrival parking was easier, and there was plenty of exercise area for the dogs.
Concerning the competition itself, there was a cool collecting area for the dogs and the match took place on a very impressive stage, rather than on the former catwalk, so there was no under-foot vibration, undoubtedly finding favour with both dogs and exhibitors.
The event's format had been changed too. As usual each exhibit represented a Society, and several members of each one came along to give their support. However, unlike former years, the competition, held on a Match basis, took place before the meal so that the rest of the evening could be enjoyed to the full. There was a short break for drinks after the event, followed by dinner and then an excellent cabaret, closing with a disco to which people could dance until the early hours of the morning.
As usual, Brian Ballan, one of the event's first organisers, was commentator, whilst Phil Freer played an important role as organiser, and President, Barry Cotterill, presented a cheque for £500 to The Lord Kirkham for the Kennel Club's Charitable Trust.
Sponsorship was again very generous indeed with Hill's Pet Nutrition giving rosettes, crystal and food, including a year's supply of the latter for the lucky winner! Stuart Mallard, that remarkable artist who is such a great character, had again done a splendid painting of last year's winner, Rodale Ranger, and it fell to Marita Rogers to present the winning GSP's owners, Des Hodgkinson and Joyce Whiting, with the Karrylite trophy. Laser Lites also sponsored all major winners and Our Dogs offered a Colour TV as a raffle prize with a year's subscription to Our Dogs for the winner of the Match. Indeed the winner has no excuse not to keep up with news in the canine world, for Dog World also gave a year's subscription, as well as a £5 voucher to each contestant.
This year's judge was Pedro Albergaria who hailed from Portugal where he is Vice President of the Portuguese Kennel Club. He holds impressive positions within Portugal's canine world and for over ten years has been an FCI judge for the Toy and Pastoral Groups, as well as judging some breeds in the Utility and Working groups. He has judged in many countries, including at the World Show in 2001 and his own interest as a breeder lies with Pekingese and Portuguese Sheepdogs.
With each pair of dogs being judged one against the other, and a winner declared, there was also an opportunity for the 'losers' to compete again. From them Mrs D Walton's Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Crynliss Aussi at Tanger was declared Best Beaten Finalist, undoubtedly making Mountsorrel DCS deservedly proud.
Judge Pedro Albergaria narrowed his winners down to just three, placing in third position the Walden family's Newfoundland, Joalta The Constellation, who made a fine representative for Burton-on-Trent. The Supermatch Runner Up was won by a German Shorthaired Pointer representing Mansfield DCS. This was the Hallam's Lipplinger Nene who was taken back by his breeder having been found in a shed in miserable condition. It just goes to show how the correct care and attention can reap rewards for all concerned.
But now to the winner which hailed from Grantham DCS. This was Mrs A J Bailey's Maltese, Ilonas Afternoon Delight at Mariposa who received warm and spontaneous applause from a very happy and supportive audience.
After the meal, exhibitors and supporters enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining and well-chosen cabaret, and when the microphone was handed to Lord Kirkham he thrilled the entire room by singing Ave Maria, in a voice many thought not dissimilar to that of Elvis Presley. Indeed this is a man of many talents! And so the evening drew slowly to a close, with many letting their hair down and dancing in gay abandon into the wee small hours, a feature of this event that I doubt will ever change.