HAVING ATTENDED most of the finals of this prestigious completion since the early 1970s, I have seen both good years and bad. Luckily for me, this was one of the former.
It was a real pleasure to judge so many good youngsters. Of course, nearly all are now out of puppy owing to their qualification at the earlier heats during the past year, and so, can now be said to be going through their teenage stage.
This was apparent in many, allowances have to be made for this natural stage in a dogs life and I was careful not to penalise the larger breeds who suffer more from this than the quicker-maturing small breeds.
I pulled out ten for my shortlist and I can tell you, it was not easy to leave out so many stars! The Cardigan Corgi, Salvenik Secret Agent of Elmsmore; Min Schnauzer, Leecurt See More Business; Golden Retriever, Mousse Glen MacMay; Rottweiler, Tysar Pure Chance With Juffther; Norfolk, Ch Kinsridge Free n Easy; M/SH Dachs, Bronia Stunning Sophia for Siouxline; Pointer, Hookwood Top Marks; Great Dane, Myhalston Miss Kiara; Peke, Yakee Coalition Forces; and the IWS, Cuboglach Woodland Brown.
A further assessment standing and moving and I regretfully had to say goodbye to six of them. My final four were really stunning youngsters. The lovely quality Great Dane bitch, Miss Kiara owned by Owen Greechan she really keeps a lovely outline with a perfect topline on the move. Well grown and reared, she really looks promising for the future. The Rottweiler, Pure Chance, owned by Ruth Hill. I loved the type and quality, Chance showed he has personality too! A final gait around the ring and a free stand to show a bit of sparkle and it just had to be between two. The exuberant IWS and the cheeky Norfolk. I pointed to Martyn and Margarita Fords IWS, Cuboglach Woodland Brown as my Pup of the Year.
He could not be faulted for presentation, movement and personality on the day. A gorgeous boy who was not only the first of his breed to qualify, but obviously the first also to win. An extremely close runner-up was Diane Jenkins and Richard Allens Norfolk Ch Free n Easy. His side action with impeccable outline could not be bettered. Added to that superb construction and precise up and down movement, a spot-on jacket and a clever handler and he well-deserved his runner-up title.
My thanks to the co-sponsors, Dog World and Purina Pro plan for their organisation and super hospitality. Full marks to Anne Bliss for her impeccable running of the ring. All combined to make this great event truly memorable.