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Good shows, bad shows? by Frank Jackson

The Kennel Club received a bit of pre-Yuletide cheer when it calculated the entries for general championship shows during 2003. Southern Counties, having moved from its own showground at Crawley to Newbury where facilities and access are so much better produced about 1000 more entries while the National Gundog show fell by about 1100 that, significantly, the Kennel Club ascribes to a temporary move to Scotland. The point is in the present context of the troubles being experienced by the SKC is worthy of note.

However whether in Scotland or elsewhere good shows get good entries is down to providing exhibitors with what they want at a reasonable. Good entries are necessary to sustain the value of CCs. The bigger the overall entry the more likely it is that individual breeds will attract good entries. It is apparent that the Kennel Club attaches importance to the ability of shows to attract good entries. Given good support by exhibitors it would take a very badly run or unduly profligate general championship show to do anything other than show a healthy profit. But shows that deter essential support by imposing a high entry fee, poor classification, poor selection of unknown and overseas judges and disregard for the reasonable needs of exhibitors can look forward to an annual loss of support and a very unhealthy balance sheet.

Unfortunately the Kennel Club appears to bat for shows rather than exhibitors. Only three times in the last few decades has the Kennel Club withdrawn championship status from any general championship shows. Does it ever balance the cost incurred by inviting a large number of foreign judges against the cost of doing so. Is it only exhibitors who see the possibility of links between inviting foreign judges and the hosts themselves accepting invitations to judge overseas? Is it likely that exhibitors would appreciate paying through the nose in order to further the careers of homegrown and foreign judges? Should shows that attract poor entries be closely examined from this point of view?

I thought it might be an interesting and perhaps even salutary exercise to compare general championship shows against a few simple criteria. Against the time of year in which they take place, the number of dogs they attract and their class average. However even such a simple examination must be hedged about with a few provisos. Crufts is obviously in a league of its own. The magic spun by Charlie Cruft not only survives but also has even been enhanced by the changes made over the years by the Kennel Club. It occupies a prime place in the show calendar and attracts by far the largest number of dogs as well as a class average the far exceeds that achieved by any other general championship show. Crufts is a representative show that is to say that by right it has a full allocation of CCs.

There are four other shows in this enviable position, Birmingham National, Welsh Kennel Club and the Scottish Kennel Club August Show. Their privileged allocation might be expected to ensure that each of these shows has a larger number of dogs and perhaps a higher class average than run of the mill events. In fact this doesn‚t happen. Birmingham is near the top of the league but the Welsh KC is in mid league and the SKC representative show is close to the foot of the table. It seems then that representative status is not a concomitant of a shows ability to attract exhibitors or provide strong competition.

General championship shows by month:

Show No. of dogs No. of classes Class average

Manchester 6811 1501 4.5

Crufts 21068 2333 9.0*

WELKS 9696 1324 7.3

Birmingham National 12719 2163 5.9*
Scottish Kennel Club 7668 1797 4.3*
Bath CS 1009 2014 5.0

Southern Counties 8597 1615 5.3
Three Counties 8350 1475 5.7
Border Union 6218 1317 4.7
Blackpool 10028 2549 3.9

Windsor 10025 1619 6.2
Paignton 7438 1795 4.1
South Wales 8372 1646 5.1
East of England 8839 1741 5.1
Leeds 10782 1878 5.7

Bournemouth 8296 1803 4.6
Welsh KC 10655 2084 5.1*
Scottish KC 5607 1301 4.3

City of Birmingham 10310 1947 5.3
Richmond 10024 1650 6.1
Darlington 8399 2066 4.1
Belfast 2944 732 4.0

Driffield 8619 1795 4.8
Midland Counties 9987 1298 7.7

Ladies KA 11919 1471 8.1

*representative shows.

Hierarchy of shows by number of dogs:

Crufts 21068*
Birmingham National 12719*
Ladies KA 11919
Bath CS 10093
Leeds 10782
Welsh KC 10655*
City of Birmingham 10310
Blackpool 10028
Windsor 10025
Richmond 10024
Midland Counties 9987
WELKS 9696
East of England 8839
Driffield 8619
Southern Counties 8597
Darlington 8399
Bournemouth 8296
South Wales 8372
Three Counties 8350
Scottish KC (May) 7668*
Paignton 7438
Manchester 6811
Border Union 6218
Scottish KC (Aug) 5607
Belfast 2944

Hierarchy of shows by class average:

Crufts 9.0*
Ladies KA 8.1
Midland Counties 7.7
Windsor 6.2
Richmond 6.1
Birmingham National 5.9*
Three Counties 5.7
Leeds 5.7
Southern Counties 5.3
City of Birmingham 5.3
South Wales 5.1
East of England 5.1
Welsh KC 5.1*
Bath CS 5.0
Driffield 4.8
Border Union 4.7
Bournemouth 4.6
Manchester 4.5
Scottish KC 4.3*
Scottish KC 4.3
Paignton 4.1
Darlington 4.1
Belfast 4.0
Blackpool 3.9