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Wheaten of the Year 2004

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of Great Britain held its second Wheaten of the Year competition at Weston Hall Hotel Bulkington, Warwickshire on Saturday 19th February. This was the same venue as the first Wheaten of Year in 2000 and was the start of a series of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the club.

The Wheaten of Year competition was originally the idea of Sandy Tanner (Kariskiye) and although no longer a committee member she was the principal organiser again, in addition she is also the Editor of the club’s Yearbook. Club secretary Judy Creswick also played a significant role, particularly in setting up the room which looked lovely.

At this point I would also like to mention the two main sponsors - Hills Pet Nutrition Ltd, and Rabart For Fine Art. The welcome banner and place mats (many of which were taken home, presumably to use as mouse mats, such was their attractiveness and quality) were provided by and produced by club member Andy Wassall. The programmes which had colour photographs of the competitors were printed and sponsored by Canine Information Directory, these will certainly become archive items.

Qualification for the event was BOB at Championship shows with CC's on offer for the breed, or if already qualified BOS, or if already qualified Reserve CC to the BOB or if already qualified Reserve CC to the BOS, plus BIS at the club open show. For the puppy competition the qualification was BP at Championship shows with CC's on offer for the breed, or if already qualified Reserve BP, plus BPIS at the open show. All qualifiers on acceptance received a free ticket costing £30 for each dog qualified.

Dress on the invitation was specified as lounge suits but most of the gentlemen opted for elegant evening suits which looked most appropriate. Weston Hall is used to holding weddings (it can even accommodate marquees in its extensive grounds) and the room provided was ideal with the seating being raised from the 'ring' which later became the dance floor. An adjoining room had been made available for grooming and cages.

As with the previous Wheaten of the Year the identity of the judge was unknown prior to the event. This time it was the highly respected breed specialist, who has now retired from judging, Mrs Jo Hanton of Plumhollow. Jo has given CC's 11 times in Wheatens the last being at Three Counties in 2001. Her Dog CC then was Ch Amberstar paperback Writer and her bitch CC and BOB Abiqua Wild Honey Be Good. Jo has also judged the breed abroad, most notably at the Puppy Sweepstakes prior to the Montgomery County Kennel Club Show and at the Kerry and Wheaten speciality in Finland. This was a most fitting farewell to her judging of the breed.

First to be judged were the puppies of which there were 12. The youngest was Jo and Graham Dowdy’s homebred Denzilly Black Velvet (Briaghban Come Running x Starcadia Alezio by Denzilly ) at only 11 months. The oldest at almost 2 years was Salloy and Jade Bryer and Trevor Hathaways Kariskiye Desparate Dougal (Sunnidayze Armist at Woodspice x Kariskiye Born to be a Babe). The only puppy to have won a CC, 2 in fact was also competing in the adult competition, it was Chris and Gary Patterson’s Snowmeadow Jodie Bo Jangles (Ch Amberstar Paperback Writer x Ch & Ir Ch Snowmeadow Feebee Friday, she reached the final 3 in the puppy competition. Reserve Puppy in Match went to Tracey Axon Tinjoby Running Bear (Starcadia Waggle Dance at Tinjoby x Joliestep Sahara) bred by Lesley and Martin Gray. Best Puppy in Match was Bev Hannas homebred Kinaelan Cuchylaene (Briaghban Come Running x Brockholme Feirin to Kinaelan).

The event was sadly perhaps overshadowed by the funeral the day before of the popular club member and ex-committee member, Peter Howard, and indeed following the puppy competition when dinner was served, a toast was made to absent friends.

An auction then followed, items included a number one limited edition Wheaten model donated by Rabart for Fine Art, who also donated a Wheaten pin, a Wheaten model donated by Professional Choice, and 12 copies of a personalised calendar for 2006 donated by Canine Information Directory amongst others.

A total of dogs competed in the adult competition which resulted in a bye for one dog in round one and after a draw, for another in round two. Of these competitors there were 7 Champions including one who was also an Irish champion, 1 other Irish Champion only and 6 who are on 2 CC's. The youngest in the adult competition was Chrisa and Gary Pattersons Snowmeadow Jodie Bo Jangles and the oldest at just over 8 years Gill Fords Ir Ch Lady Kadette of Ballysax at Kanjuley (Kdara Fancy x Ballysax Blondy).

The final 3 were: Ch Amberstar Paperback Writer, Emalot Diva Queen at Swandare and Starcadia Bardolino. Third was John Allens Emalot Diva Queen at Swandare (Ch Stevelyn Big Boss Man x Ch Emalot Hokey Cokey) bred by Lyn and Andy Wassall and who has 2 CC's. Reserve Best in Match was Amanda Challoner’s Starcadia Bardolino (Miwaivlys Bachuss x Starcadia Feliz Navidad) bred by Angela and Alan Switzer and handled as usual by the owner of his sire, Graham Dowdy, he also has 2 CCs. Best in Match was Chris and Gary Patterson’s Ch Amberstar Paperback Writer (Ch & Ir Ch Snowmeadow Blue Baroo x Ch Glendowan Starlite Express). At the 2000 Wheaten of the Year he was Best Puppy in Match, proving yet again the longevity of the breed. Without the Puppy challenging he was declared Wheaten of the Year for 2005.

On completion of judging the disco started and those not already in a relaxed mood soon were!
When will the next Wheaten of the year be and where? That we do not know. The logistics of holding such an event annually make it almost impossible to do so, but perhaps a five year gap is too long?