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A great day for the Irish!



Without hesitation the judge Mrs Zena Thorn-Andrews beckoned ‘Woody’ the Irish Water Spaniel into the centre of the ring, accompanied by the rather astonished Martyn Ford!

What an achievement for the breed; first time ever that one had qualified for the Finals and then to go on to be the overall winner!

It was an exceptional win for a breed which has had remarkable success the show ring over the last few years.

The Thirtythird Purina Pro Plan/Dog World Pup of the Year Final was held in London in the spectacular surroundings of the Porter Tun Room at the Whitbread Brewery on Thursday 8th January.

The judge for this prestigious event was Zena Thorn - Andrews who is Britain’s most successful breeder having bred and /or owned a record 94 UK champions.

The start of the event was delayed for a short time as four of the qualifiers were stuck in London traffic; however they all arrived, the only eventual absentee being Roy and Lorna Walker’s Lakeland Terrier, Kilmarth Shakira.

Bernard Hall was the commentator for the event and gave a quick resume of the format of the competition and also explaining that the company name of the joint sponsor with Dog World was Nestlé Purina Petcare but for this event was known as Purina ProPlan.

The event was opened with last year’s Pup of the Year winner, the Miniature Schnauzer, Risepark Smart Fella for Tamberg doing a lap of honour around the ring followed by all this year’s finalists. They moved individually then all remained together in the impressive ring which was complete with white picket fencing and the sponsors’ logos projected in light onto the carpet.


Impressive

There were several "firsts" at this event; Rob Sansom’s Byermoor Queens English being the first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to qualify for the event; Nick Gourley and Andrew Leonard’s English Toy Terrier was the first of its breed to qualify and managed it at his first show! It was a first time also for Irish Water Spaniels, the breed being proudly represented by the eventual winner Martyn and Margarita Ford’s Cuboglach Woodland Brown. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Salvenik Secret Agent of Elmsmere owned by Ros Ellwood and Barry Gardiner was the first of its breed to qualify since 1974.

Bert Easdon and Philip Martin, no strangers by any means to these finals, managed also to qualify two puppies but not from the same litter. They were the Pekingese bitch Yakee’s Little Blond Number and the dog Yakee Coalition Forces.

Zena had a good look at each dog and moved them all individually, there being only three dogs in the ring at any one time. After all had been examined every finalist returned to the ring and from these Zena shortlisted ten dogs; the Miniature Schnauzer, Great Dane bitch, Miniature Smooth-Haired Dachshund, Pointer, Pekingese dog, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, Irish Water Spaniel, Norfolk Terrier and Cardigan Corgi. She moved them all again then from this impressive line-up pulled out the final four. These were the Irish Water Spaniel Martyn and Margarita Ford’s Cuboglach Woodland Brown, Diane Jenkins and Richard Allen’s Norfolk Terrier, Ch Kinsridge Free ‘N’ Easy, Owen Greechan’s Great Dane bitch Myhalston Miss Kiara and the Rottweiler, Ruth Hill’s Tysar Pure Chance with Juffther.

Without hesitation she beckoned the Irish Water Spaniel (Woody) into the centre of the ring, accompanied by the rather astonished Martyn Ford. What an achievement for the breed; first time ever that one had qualified for the Finals and then to go on to be the overall winner! Woody, however, seemed to take it all in his stride and had a smug expression on his face when the winners’ medal was placed around his neck.

Bernard Hall commented that "Cuboglach" was Gaelic for "bog dog" adding that there was nothing "bog standard" about Woody! He has been unbeaten so far in breed classes and has four Reserve CCs to his name. He qualified for the Pup of the Year Finals under Carol Coode at SKC and was also runner-up at the heat held at WELKS judged by Liz Cartledge. Second place was then awarded to the characterful and successful Norfolk Terrier, Ch Kinsridge Free ‘N’ Easy and both dogs performed a lap of honour around the ring.

The judging over, it was time to feed and water the guests this being done with the usual style and good taste. The first after-lunch speaker was Jeremy Caplin, the Marketing Director of Purina who informed us that the company had been involved with the competition since 1971 and that this year some members of the breeders’ Gold club had been invited to attend. He was followed by Terry Thorn who spoke on behalf of the guests thanking the sponsors and giving special mention to Lisa Gold, the Purina Event Manager and her hard-working team responsible for organising the event in conjunction with Kerry Williamson and Pam Blay of Dog World.

Kerry Williamson, then took to the floor and told the assembled that the competition encapsulated the pursuit of excellence and that many previous winner had gone on to achieve great thing and wished Woody well in his future show career.

Then followed the awarding of the trophies; the Catherine Sutton Memorial Trophy given in memory of the woman who thought up the competition, was presented to the winner by Catherine’s daughter, Patricia; rather poignant given Patricia’s long involvement with Irish Water Spaniels. The Ch Dialynne Gamble Memorial Trophy, given by Marion Spavin and family, was awarded to the runner-up. The Rossut Jasmine Memorial trophy was presented to Peter Newman and Barry Day, the breeders of last year’s winner.

The final presentation was that of the Tom Horner Award of Excellence, given each year to someone for outstanding achievements in the world of dogs and this year it was the turn of those two Glasgow gentlemen, Bert Easdon and Philip Martin of the successful Yakee kennel. Bert has had success in Boston Terriers, King Charles Spaniels and in partnership with Philip with Shih Tzus and Pekingese over a number of years.

The event was closed by Jeremy Caplin but not before he thanked everyone for their work throughout the year and presented gifts to Zena Thorn Andrews, Anne Bliss and Bernard Hall. The guests, handlers and dogs then slowly made their way out of the welcome cocoon of the Porter Tun Room and into the hustle and bustle of the City of London.