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Pup of the Year 2006 Final

Photo by William Moores
Overall winner of the 2006 Purina Pro Plan/Dog World 'Pup of the Year' competition was the Smooth Fox Terrier d Corish, Thornton & Bebbington's Glendraterra Sunset Strip handled by Geoff Corish and seen here with, left to right, Matthew Bostock Regional Breeder Manager, Stuart Irvine Managing Director of Purina, judge Mrs Marion Spavin, reserve Newton's Whippet b Nevedith Lfa Lady Love and Jessica Rush of Regional Breeder Manager

The 37th Purina Pro Plan Pup of the Year Final, 2006, was held for the second year running at the Bedford Corn Exchange last Thursday afternoon. In previous years, the competition has been held in the City of London. As always, there are 30 finalists, who have come from an entry of over 8,000 at 30 Ch Shows throughout 2006.

How pleased was I to find drinks awaiting me on my arrival into the event, with the immaculate and very well planned out auditorium with the lights, camera and action ready to take place. All guests were provided with name badges and who they were representing, whether they be the Secretary from the Ch Show that held the POTY Qualifiers, to Kennel Club members, or those special invited guests. All were made very welcome for what turned out to be a fantastic day.

Judging of the competition was scheduled for 11am, but sadly due to the bad wind and rain throughout the UK that week, judging was delayed by 15 minutes. The organisers of this event, Purina Pro Plan, each year have a secret judge up their sleeves. Only a week or two before the final do people find out who the judge will be. Mr Frank Kane and Dr Jessica Holm were the speakers of the competition and with all guests seated in the auditorium, Frank Kane spoke a few words about this year’s judge, Mrs Marion Spavin of the Dialynne Kennel.

Marion has bred and made up about 90 UK Champions, the majority being Beagles, Manchester Terriers, Tibetan Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and Miniature Schnauzers. Marion first awarded CCs in Beagles back in 1966, and today is passed to award CCs in 70 breeds, all groups. Nowadays, the Dialynne Kennel lives on, not just through Marion, but daughter Dianna, and Granddaughter Melanie. The perfect judge had been wisely chosen for this year's competition.

Each finalist did a lap of honour before three dogs at a time entered the ring for a full hands on assessment, conformation and movement examination took place. Sadly two dogs were unable to attend the competition at the last minute, these being the Shetland Sheepdog, The Ambassador for Degallo, owned by Leanda Scott, and the Lhasa Apso, Hazgaye Solitaire owned & bred by Hazel Gay. Mrs Spavin made two shortlists.

Her first shortlist consisted of thirteen dogs, Whippet - Nevedith LFA Lady Love, Lakeland Terrier - Saredon Catch Me if You Can, Dobermann - Amazon Cold Play, Miniature Schnauzer - Ch Risepark Mister Right, Akita - Stecal's Brooklyn, Basset Hound - Switherland Double Blue, Chow Chow - Towmena In the Frame, Alaskan Malamute - Tuvaurat Made In America, Standard Poodle - Ch Torpaz Talking Point at Vanitonia, Chinese Crested - Renedream Painted Pony, Beagle - Bayard Garrick of Ramsayville, Basenji - Zizunga In Style and lastly, the Smooth Fox Terrier - Glendraterra Sunset Strip. The final points of the dogs were checked again, before the shortlist from thirteen to seven was made.

In the last cut, the dogs were, the Whippet, Lakeland Terrier, Akita, Basset Hound, Chow Chow, Standard Poodle and the Smooth Fox Terrier.

Taking the top spot at this year’s final was Sam, the 15-month-old Smooth Fox Terrier, Glendraterra Sunset Strip, owned by Jenny Thornton, Roger Bebbington and handled and co-owned by Geoff Corish. Sam has only been shown six times, amassing two Reserve CCs and four Best Puppy In Breeds. He is the litter Brother to the Our Dogs Top Puppy Competition 2006, Glendraterra Sunday Best.

As you can tell from his short career, Sam has achieved many awards, he comes from a top class showman, his father being Ch & Am Ch Sunrise Rascal Fair, Best in Show at East of England 2005, and he was also Top Terrier 2005 in the UK, before returning to the USA after Crufts 2006.

Winning Reserve spot at this years final, was the Whippet Nevedith LFA Lady Love, owned and bred by Miss Editha Newton, winner of 1 CC and 2 Reserve CCs, Group 4 at Darlington and late last year, won 4th place in the Petplan Junior Stakes Final. Lady comes from a superb winning pedigree, her Mother Ch Nevedith Eefa Empress and grandmother Ch Nutshell of Nevedith, who have both qualified for the POTY final in the past. The Nevedith Kennel has qualified a dog for this competition at least 24 times, bar one year when they did not have a puppy to show. What an achievement to qualify so many times and now, this year, win runner up, well deserved.

Stuart Irvine - Managing Director of Purina Petcare, thanked all the finalists for their entry of the competition. He went on to say that in 2006 alone, over 8,000 dogs competed for this competition and for the 30 finalists there on the day, this was some achievement, a round of applause was awarded to all exhibits at this point.

The time came for the awards to be presented to the winners. The Catherine Sutton Memorial Trophy was presented to Geoff Corish, Jenny Thornton and Roger Bebbington for the winner of the 2006 Pup of the Year Final, Glendraterra Sunset Strip. The runner up receives the Ch Dialynne Gamble Memorial Trophy, presented to Miss E Newton with Nevedith LFA Lady Love. The Breeder of the previous years winner, takes home the Rossut Jasmine Memorial Trophy, this was presented to Kari and Sigurd Wilberg, breeders of Ch Kanix Hilda at Stargang. Dog World presented the Tom Horner Award of Excellence to someone who has consistently achieved the highest of standards in some aspect of the dog show world, and who better to receive this award than someone who won Best in Show at Crufts in 1983 with the Afghan Hound, Ch Montravia Kaskarak Hitari, and two years later, won Best in Show at Crufts in 1985 with the Standard Poodle Ch Montravia Tommy Gun.

Yes, Marita Rodgers of the ever famous Montravia Kennel, received this year’s recognition of excellence, for her expert handling of dogs, bringing out the best in the dog, which has resulted in her not winning Crufts once, but twice, as well as handling other breeds throughout her career. Along with her partner, Phil Freer, Marita now has a big involvement with the PBGVs, Afghans, Standard Poodles, and has also been involved with Bichon Frise. From Marita's credibility, she has become mentor to some of today’s top handlers, her ways and means of handling has guided today’s top handlers into right path of getting to the top. Hundreds of people in the auditorium stood up from their chairs and applauded Marita for her recognition.

Marion Spavin was presented with a gift for her judging of the competition, she told all guests that she was very pleased and overwhelmed by the quality of all the dogs present for the competition, and she ensures that most of these youngsters will become Champions one day - this is possible, as previous POTY winners have achieved so much, 1985 POTY winner Ch Viscount Grant, the Afghan Hound, owned by Chris and Julie Amoo, went on to win Best in Show at Crufts in 1987, Ralph Dunne's Clumber Spaniel, Sh Ch Raycroft Socialite, was POTY winner in 1989, and went on to win Crufts Best In Show at their Centenary Show in 1991, and more recently Mike Gadsby & Gwen Oake's American Cocker Spaniel, Ch Boduf Pistols at Dawn with Afterglow, winner of the POTY 1996, went on to win Reserve Best in Show at Crufts in 1997!

Fingers crossed that one or a few of these finalists today do become huge stars of the future!

Photo by William Moores
Presenting the Catherine Sutton Memorial Trophy was her daughter Patricia Sutton seen here with the winner's joint owners Roger Bebbington, Geoff Corish and Jenny Thornton

Photo by William Moores
Reserve in the competition Editha Newton accepts the Ch Dialynne Gamble Memorial Trophy from 'Mrs Dialynne' herself the judge on the day Mrs Marion Spavin

Photo by William Moores
Keeping things in order at the event were stewards Denis Rockall, Jim Peach and Mrs Anne Bliss

Photo by William Moores
Among the invited guests were Mrs Angela Cavill, secretary of Southern Counties CA championship show and chairman Mr David Cavill seen here with Mr Nick Bryce-Smith, chairman of Richmond Dog Show Society

Photo by William Moores
Winner of the Tom Horner Award of Excellence was Marita Rodgers who received this prestigious prize from Managing Director of Dog World Kerry Williamson

Photo by William Moores
Presenting the Rossut Jasmine Memorial Trophy to the breeder of last year's winner was Patricia Sutton seen here with Mr Sigurd Wilberg (Kanix)

Photo by William Moores
Overall winner of the 2006 Purina Pro Plan/Dog World 'Pup of the Year' competition was
the Smooth Fox Terrier dog Corish, Thornton & Bebbington's Glendraterra Sunset Strip,
handled by Geoff Corish

Photo by William Moores
Stuart Irvine, Managing Director of Purina, thanks the competitors and guests for attending the lunchilliam Moores

Photo by William Moores
Samantha Gutsell-Forshaw of Purina welcomed everyone to the final