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Border Collie of the Year
the competitions for 2001 and 2002

A warm welcome certainly greeted the exhibitors and supporters for the Border Collie of the Year at Bretby Conference Centre, Burton on Trent, on 19th January 2003. Bob Tunnicliffe (the Breed Council Chairman) making it his job to meet and great and ensure all were aware of the procedures for the day.

Marion Turner, and her merry band of helpers, ‘controlled’ the secretaries table, giving out ring numbers, catalogues, and the relevant information to all. Each exhibitor was also given a commemorative black & gold rosette.

The event was to be unique, being run by a Breed Council, which I personally think worked very well, with all the supporting clubs coming together under the one banner to promote the event, and the supporting club banners and table cloths, did look very impressive in the secretary’s area. The qualification for each event was to have won a CC or Res Cc in the qualifying period, or to be a Sh Ch.

Another unusual feature of the event was the fact that two years’ Border Collie of the Year would be decided on one day, the qualifiers from 2001 meeting in the morning, and those from 2002 meeting in the afternoon, with different judges for both events. A double venture becoming necessary after F&M had affected the show scene of 2001, and had given the club responsible for the event some obvious difficulties.

The venue was spacious, and enabled a doggy crèche to be set up, so that dogs could be crated inside the hall, rather than left in the cold in cars, which was a nice idea, and Jean Entwistle and friends are to be thanked for setting up spare crates, for the visitors to use.

The show ring itself was of excellent size, and the surface did not appear to give the dogs any problems at all. The main conference hall did itself perhaps did look a bit like an aircraft hanger, but rather unusually there were stairs leading to an indoor marquee. This was beautifully draped and laid out for refreshments, and gave a very classy area in which would could relax over lunch.

The arrangements for both events were the same; the draw for the knockout competition took place ‘behind closed doors’, and then the details were announced, so exhibitors could be forewarned about when they could be called to the ring. A number of very sporting exhibitors agreed to swap places, when it became apparent that some exhibitors would be running two dogs in the same pool, making handling rather impossible!

The stewards for the day Jan & Keith Starkey were more than able to control the exhibitors and the judges! A very friendly atmosphere existed in the ring throughout, with a few amusing moments taking place.

One of the usual criticisms of a knock out match is that technically it is possible for the two best dogs to meet in the first round, but the format selected by the organisers, avoided this possibility, with the dogs meeting in pools of 4 for the morning event and six for the afternoon event, and at least two dogs from each pool going through to the next round.

The Border Collie of the Year 2001, was to be decided by breed specialist, Mr Eric Broadhurst, and the all rounder Mr Andrew Brace, they had an entry of 13 dogs, of which only one was absent. (The referee for the event was breed specialist Mr Bruce Kilsby). Mr Kilsby was only called upon once, in the first pool, to select the first two dogs to go forward, from then on our two judges were in complete agreement.

Border Collie of the Year 2001 was awarded to Sh Ch Bridacre Bronte (bred by Derek and Maureen Briddon). Bronte was a popular winner; she is owned by Mary Hynes, and avidly supported by Mary’s Mum, Agnes. Although not her first show collie, Bronte is certainly the first Mary has campaigned seriously, and she is a very special dog to both Mary and Agnes.

She is the proud winner of three CCs and five Res CCs, with all her CCs coming from breed specialists, including two back to back at the Scottish Working & Pastoral Breeds, and the Scottish Club show, no mean feat to win two CCs in one weekend. Mary says "Bronte loves everybody and everything, especially food!" At only three years old, she no doubt has a bright show career ahead.

The reserve spot went to the oldest dog in the competition Sh Ch Beesting Twigglette, owned and bred by Jean and jimmy Entwistle. Frazer reached his 12th birthday in November, and certainly does not show or act his age in the ring. His sire Sh Ch Altricia Kev, was in fact the winner of the first ever BC of the Year, back in 1990, before Frazer was even born!

A constant winner over the years, Frazer has 12 CC, numerous Res CCs, and has won BIS 12 times at Club shows. To quote Jean, "Frazer is just perfect in every way!"

After the trophies were presented to the winners, and momentoes given to the two judges, we adjourned to the Marquee for a lovely Roast beef dinner, and a chance to compose ourselves before the afternoon event.

For those of us discussing the event cynically before hand, and questioning whether a knockout competition was fair on the oldies and the bitches, weren’t we surprised, when in the first final three out of four finalists were bitches, and two were veterans!

Border Collie of the Year 2002 was judged by breed Specialist Mrs Pam Harris, and all rounder Mr Doug Kitchener, (The referee for the event was again to be Mr Bruce Kilsby). For this event there were 28 entries with four absentees, which enabled the event to be run with four pools of six dogs.

Again the referee was only called upon once, in the selection of the final dog for the final four.

Border collie of the Year 2002 being awarded this time to the young dog Sh Ch Tonkory Palmerston at Fayken, owned by Vicki and Ross Green, and bred by Judith Gregory. Taz is the Top winning dog for 2002 and is a previous winner of the title Border Collie of the Year, when it was last run for 2000. At only 5 years of age he has an impressive show record, 23 CCs of which 17 were with BOB, he was BIS at the 2000 W & PB of Scotland show, and has three BIG with numerous group placings. Sometime lively in the ring when excited by the heat of the moment, he is a gentleman at home, although he will impersonate the emergency service sirens when they go past!

The young bitch Bronte was this time called into the reserve spot, a very exciting and thrilling day for Mary – I believe she floated home!

More trophies to present by Bob Tunnicliff to the winners, the judges, and of course the then inevitable photo shoot, to capture the moment.

It was a very enjoyable day, with good sportsmanship shown by all. The Beautiful rosettes for Border Collie of the Year were donated by Judith Gregory, and Purina kindly sponsored the event, with the supporting clubs all helping with the actual financing of the event. There was an excellent raffle, with many prizes, including a rather striking large furry dragon (soft toy) being won by Bill Bradford.

It was also pleasing to welcome for the first time to such an event, overseas competitors from Holland, Hans and Sabrina Smit.

It I guess shows how strong our breed is even in ‘old age’ the veterans certainly able to hold their own. With two out of the four finalists in the morning being veterans, and two of the last eight in the afternoon, and Frazer making Res Best Border in the morning event and in the final for the afternoon. But as Jean points out what a shame it is that Frazer cannot be exhibited in the veteran class at Crufts, as is over 12! He can however be exhibited in the open Dog class! Whilst one can understand that the Kc is perhaps trying to dissuade some exhibitors from dragging out oldies, who would be more comfortable left at home, what about the breeds like ours which have long healthy lives, and many of us would agree that they are only coming onto their prime at seven, just as other breeds are considered to be old!