International agility festival is a huge success
Probably the biggest agility dog show ever staged in the UK, the Kennel Club International Agility Festival sponsored by Arden Grange, took place at the East of England Showground in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Over 2000 dogs took part, competing in classes from the Friday afternoon to the Sunday evening.
With over 12,000 entries and 16 competition rings to manage, the show required amazing levels of co-ordination and hard work.
Show Secretary, Debbie Deuchar said, ‘Our sincerest thanks go to the huge army of dedicated helpers who all contributed to make this such a successful event and without whom this event would simply never have happened. The dedication of agility enthusiasts to their sport is already well known but this weekend was something very special. Ring managers, ring party members, commentators, staff and officials as well as their friends and family members all contributed to make this event so great.’
Clive Hindersley, who not only judged, but also helped from set up on Tuesday morning to packing up on Sunday night said, ‘This has been one of the best Agility events I have ever attended. Without exception, every competitor I have spoken to has had a marvellous time and are all agreed that they are definitely returning next year’.
The Festival saw significantly more competitors from overseas making the trip to the UK to take part, with over 22 countries represented in the Nations Cup competition. A strong contingent of competitors from Spain made it to the Festival despite being delayed at Calais with some Pet Passport irregularities. At one point it was feared that their dogs would not make it to the showground to take part and, with typical agility camaraderie, UK competitors rallied round with offers to lend dogs to the Spanish competitors for their classes. The Spaniards were reunited with their dogs in time for competition and went on to win the Nations Cup for Small dogs.
Michel Leikens, the specially invited Belgian judge of the Starters and Novice Cup Finals, agreed that the event had been a tremendous success and was really making a name for itself on the international stage: ‘To see the extent to which this event has grown in just three years is amazing. It has been a wonderful show.’
The Kennel Club trialled a brand new computerised scoring system at the Festival - a first for agility in the UK. IT company, I-Mast Technologies Ltd used a Wi-Fi network and provided PCs in rings to record results. The first day of competition saw a few teething problems, as the difficulties of working in the middle of a rural showground made themselves known, but as the weekend went on the benefits of this innovation were being seen with results being finalised much more quickly and all results being posted on awards boards. All the results from the competition are available on the Kennel Club’s agility micro-site at www.kcagility.org.uk. With over 100 ‘hits’ to the site on the morning after the Festival, the new service certainly appears to be a hit with agility enthusiasts.
A further innovation at the Festival saw the most successful competitors in the KC Starters Cup and KC Novice Cup all qualifying for Crufts for the first time. Crufts places for the top overseas competitors in the British Open competition were also available, and Debbie Deuchar handed out special invitations to Crufts with rosettes for the lucky finalists.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said, ‘The Festival has been a huge success and a real joy to attend. It has been getting bigger and better each year and we are sure that the success of this year’s event means that its reputation and standard of competition cannot fail but to grow’.