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Exhibitors voice concern over critique

Italian Spinone exhibitors have voiced considerable concern about the judge’s critique from Crufts, published in OUR DOGS and the Italian Spinone club of GB’s website recently.

In the critique, Duncan Blacklock, an experienced specialist, felt that the breed was not moving forward, even in some senses regressing. Having said in his introduction that he felt the dogs had the quality to be placed at the show he goes on to state ‘Are we fashion following, mis-mating or what? Whatever we are doing we are changing to narrow headed, light eyed, light boned, excessively tucked up, incorrectly coated dogs with bad tailsets.’

The main criticism, though, is focused on the Veteran Bitch class in which he says that ‘it is hard to criticise older dogs when their physical attributes are failing’. Exhibitors have told Our Dogs that the class was a very strong one with 18 present and featured several CC winners and a champion.

Mr Blacklock did say that the first three in the class deserved their placing but then did not give any of them an individual critique, as was also the case with some placings in other classes. And having placed dogs in some classes because they ‘sparkled’ even though they were ‘not entirely his type’ he says that in the challenge his CC wining dog ‘lacked sparkle’ (The Open bitch winner was BOB). He also placed a bitch first in Limit before changing his mind and reversing the first two. The one finally placed first he described as ‘top quality’ but said of the second, out of 16 present, ‘a very sound overall bitch with nothing outstanding but nothing wrong - but deserved placing’.

Sonia Grief who judged the breed at Crufts in 2007 told Our Dogs: ‘Duncan has hit the nail on the head in his introduction’. although a winning exhibitor under Mr Blacklock, Mrs Grief said she felt that although she felt that the introduction had much to commend it the write ups themselves were ‘not very helpful considering that Crufts is such an important show’ and that ‘they were somewhat non-committal’. Another exhibitor said ‘Duncan is looking to the past and his approach in the ring was unsatisfactory.’ Another winning exhibitor said that although they were happy with his report on their own dog, with some reservations, they could quite understand other exhibitors being upset.

Our Dogs tried to contact Mr Blacklock by telephone for his comments before we went to press but we were unable to speak to him.