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St Bernard tops ‘last’ supermatch

Photo by Sally Pointon
Top Dog 2002 Poole and Nagrecha's St Bernard Ch Poolsway Winning Spirit,
receiving their crystal trophy from Andrew Winfrow of Pedigree Masterfoods

EAST ANGLIA has had its own regional Top Dog competition for the last thirteen years; and it is hoped that the most recent, held at the Burgess Civic Hall at St Ives on Saturday, wasn’t its last.

As reported in OUR DOGS recently, this Supermatch, hosted by Huntingdonshire CS and Pedigree Masterfoods, a charity event in aid of Wood Green Animal Shelters, may become defunct if a new sponsor cannot be found.

However, the final curtain hasn’t come down just yet, and if the strength of feeling about this glamorous, well run event is anything to go by, I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be saved for many more years to come – let us hope so.

The Supermatch consists of two Top Dog competitions – one for the BPIS winners of participating local societies, the other for the BIS winners at the same open shows – and this year the competition was tougher than ever, with several champions and JW winners among the 64 exhibits.

The three judges were Carol Larkin from South Africa, Ron James and Jimmy Simpson. With 16 pairs in each of the first rounds, there was plenty of time for the 200 or so exhibitors and spectators to mingle and socialise while judging was in progress but, with a wealth of knowledge outside as well as inside the ring, most of them watched with interest as each pair were matched against one another.

The final decision in the Top Puppy competition fell to Mr Simpson, whose semi-finalists were Amanda Ellis’ Pug, Patsgang Sir Eastonite, bred by Pat Fordyce-Gale in her first Pug litter, and Mrs S Cole’s homebred Wolfhound, Culkeeran Shade, both males. The winner was ‘Sir’ who already has two RCCs under his belt at the tender age of 13 months! Joint top puppy in the breed last year, he stole the hearts of the ringside as well as the judges.

Photo by Sally Pointon
Top Puppy 2002 Amanda Ellis' Pug Patsgang Sir Eastonite pictured with
the chairman of Huntingdonshire C S Alison Mount

Dr James made the final selection in the Top Dog competition, his semi-finalists both champions: Stephen Poole and Tan Nagrecha’s St Bernard, Poolsway Winning Spirit, handled by Tan, who won his title and the group at Manchester, and Mrs L Parke’s Dobermann, Ch Sallate Hunter for Marchtay, bred by Nesbit and Hunt. These two experienced exhibitors shook hands as they entered the ring for the final run-off, a good example of the friendly yet competitive atmosphere throughout the day.

After sending them round again Dr James decided on ‘Basil’ the St Bernard as East Anglian Top Dog 2002, another popular winner with the ringside.

Compere for the day was the evergreen Bernard Hall, assisted as usual by his wife Rosemary. Bernard will, I believe, be undertaking his final Crufts commentary this weekend.

Missing from the event was the familiar figure of Michael Quinney who was not well enough to attend. Hopefully he will be feeling much better by the time you read this as he is due to judge the working group at Crufts.

After dinner Alison Mount, chairman of Huntingdonshire CS, said that although it was a sad occasion she hoped everyone enjoyed this fantastic event. She thanked Pedigree for their marvellous support over the years before handing the microphone over to Andrew Winfrow, Regional Breeder Manager for Pedigree.

Sad occasion

Andrew agreed that it was a sad occasion, however, he said, like every major company, Pedigree had to review their support activities from time to time to ensure all areas of dogdom can benefit from Pedigree; and he thanked the society for giving them the opportunity to support this very successful event.

He finished his speech with an amusing ‘dog tale’ before handing over to Dennis Baker, Chief Executive of Wood Green, which is now an ‘Investors In People’ company. The new £1.6m kennel at Wood Green was completed in December and will officially be opened by the Duke of Gloucester on April 29. Proceeds from last year’s Supermatch contributed towards the shelters’ new mobile X-ray machine which can be used almost anywhere and can literally wrap around the patients!

Profits from previous Supermatches have contributed towards much needed veterinary equipment at the Shelter, which relies entirely on donations.

Before the dancing began, presentations were made to Ken Allen, Supermatch organiser, and Tony Beebe, chief steward, who are both retiring from the committee.

Was this really the last East Anglian Supermatch … or will you be reading about the ‘new look’ competition for the region in OUR DOGS next year? Only time will tell…