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Not to be missed - the Shih Tzu Club Superstakes!


The winning line up


THE SHIH Tzu Club’s inaugural Superstakes was held at Sketchley Grange Hotel & Country Club near Hinckley in Leicestershire on Sunday November 19, where about 100 exhibitors/spectators came together for this new event. Gathering from11am onwards, there was plenty of time for the competitors to prepare their dogs before a buffet lunch at midday, with judging getting underway at about 1pm.

The competitions were open to all Shih Tzu exhibitors, with the qualification period running from October 1, 2005 until September 30 this year; and the top 45 dogs and bitches (by score on a points system throughout this period) were invited to compete in three classifications: Puppy (under 18 months); Intermediate (over 18 months and not yet having won a CC); and Open (over 18 months and having won one or more CCs).

As with most of these ‘of the year’ competitions, the judges’ identities were kept a closely guarded secret until the day; they were breed specialist Mrs Jean Heath (Cijena), who had not judged the breed recently; all-rounder Mr Frank Kane; and overseas judge Mrs Monique Colombre from France, who had previously judged only once in the UK. Each exhibit was assessed by all 3 judges, being awarded scores out of a maximum of 100 per judge (300 in total), broken down into sections thus: Head & Expression 20; Construction & Balance 20; Condition & Presentation 20; and Movement & Ring Presence 40.

As with all new ventures, there was some speculation beforehand that this system of judging could be somewhat cumbersome and perhaps rather contentious. However, the club had obviously given a lot of thought to not only how to keep the flow going, but to retain the interest of the ringside. This was achieved by judging all the dogs on the tables (one table for each judge) in ‘round one’, with each dog’s score (out of a maximum of 180 for this ‘round’ – ie head & expression, construction & balance and condition & presentation x 3 judges) being shown on a screen via computer as soon as their collective scores had been checked. Movement & ring presence was judged in ‘round two’ (a maximum score of 120 per dog), by which time the spectators and exhibitors alike were torn between watching the next dog’s movement and the previous dog’s score on the screen! It worked very well.

With good prize money (£50 for 1st, £30 for 2nd, £20 for 3rd, £10 for 4th, and £5 for 5th) and sponsors gifts down to 5th place in each classification, and a further £50 plus the Harry Baxter Memorial Trophy for the overall winner (for the highest scoring dog on the day), the stakes were high.

Winner of the Josephine Johnson Top Puppy award was Mr and Mrs Bushell’s aptly named homebred g/w bitch, Caserose Super Star, with 262 points (151/111); 2nd place (after a run-off) went to Mrs Stangeland’s homebred b/w bitch, Weatsom Repeat Prescription, 260 (161/99); 3rd Mr and Mrs Willett’s homebred g/w bitch, Debeaux Decadence, 260 (152/108); 4th to Mrs Rutter’s g/w dog, Chanikos To Catch A Dream for Ethelsmead, bred by Miss Spooner, 259 (153/106); and 5th to Mr Bell and Mrs Turrell’s g/w dog, Harropine Chico Time at Bellwaycharm, bred by Mr and Mrs Harper, 256 (147/109).

Top Intermediate was Miss Helen Howard’s homebred g/w dog, Tameron Mr Kenzo, 264 (166/98); 2nd place here went to Mr and Mrs Quick’s homebred b/w dog, Minfaa Zorro, 262 (159/103); 3rd Mrs Sweeney’s g/w bitch, Santosha Violet from Marionswood, bred by Mr and Mrs Crossley, 261 (109/152); 4th Mrs Symonds’ br/w dog, Huxlor Ride Him Cowboy at Symaraju, bred by Mrs Pat Lord, 257 (148/109); and 5th Mr and Mrs Crossley’s homebred black bitch, Santosha Carte Noir, 249 (145/104).

Top Open and the Shih Tzu Club Shih Tzu of the Year 2006 was Mr and Mrs Hitt’s b/w bitch, Ch Cedarhythe Classic Design JW, bred by Mrs Jenny Clifford, 278 (170/108); 2nd Willetts’ homebred gold dog, Ch Debeaux Ruff Love, 274 (164/110); 3rd Mrs Glenda Gilkes’ g/w dog, Ch Hashanah Lock Stock N Barrel, bred by Mrs Judy Franks, 264 (156/108); 4th Miss Rewbury’s homebred g/w dog, Ashwenel Likely Story, 257 (156/101); and 5th Mrs Lockwood and Mrs Murrell’s g/w dog, Krisquest Top Gun, bred by Mrs Murrell, 254 (146/108).

As you can see, some of the scores were very close, and once everyone was aware of how the system worked, the changing scoreboard kept the interest of the ringside throughout.

For those of you who were not able to attend, the whole event was filmed – but I’m not sure whether or not this will be reproduced for sale (all owners were entitled to request that their dog does not appear in any such video). However, this club has an excellent website, where I’m sure you will be able to glean more information – the address is www.theshihtzuclub.co.uk

It was no mean feat to stage such an ambitious event, and it was obvious from the off that much time, thought and preparation had gone into the success of this Superstakes by all the officers and committee. The date has not yet been set for next year’s event, but if you are interested in the Shih Tzu you should leave a window in your diary for the 2007 Superstakes final as this is one not to be missed.