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Third time lucky for Philippe

OUR DOGS Chief Reporter Nick Mays
talks to the Crufts 2008 winners

IF EVER there was a prime example of the old saying of ‘Third Time Lucky’, then it was never so apt as in the case of Giant Schnauzer Ch Jafrak Philippe Olivier who took best in show at Crufts 2008.

This amazing dog, known as ‘Phil’ at home, is owned by Kevin and Sandy Cullen from St Leonard’s-on-Sea, East Sussex. Phil, who will be seven years old next month had won the Utility Group twice before in 2004 and 2005, and was Reserve Group winner in 2007 (he wasn’t exhibited at Crufts in 2006).

‘It’s like winning an Olympic Gold,’ Sandy Cullen told OUR DOGS this week. ‘It really is a dream come true. I just couldn’t believe it when he won he Group for a third time, let alone when he was pulled out as Bets In Show on Sunday evening!’

According to Sandy, Phil is ‘totally laid back by it all – just like Kevin.’

There had been some speculation as to why Phil hadn’t been seen on television since his Crufts triumph, but Sandy answers this easily. ‘Quite simply, it’s a lot for Phil,’ she said. ‘We were asked to go on TV in London the next morning, but it would have meant a long haul down from Birmingham again and it is an awfully long way, and a lot to put Phil through. We’ve got the local news coming over today (Tuesday) from Meridian TV, but apart from the usual, that’s all we’re doing. The people from Pedigree have been fantastic and have looked after us very well.’

Indeed, Phil is the first ‘Pedigree Chum’ winner for some time – as he is the first British winner for a few years too, but somehow this makes his win all the more satisfying at a show which had attracted a great deal of adverse comment in the national media for being too ‘un-British’ and ‘full of American razzamatazz’.

And was it a late night of celebrations on Sunday? Sandy laughs: ‘You could say that – we didn’t get to bed until about 2.30am, but it was worth it.’

So what’s next for Phil? ‘Oh he’s retired now,’ says Sandy. ‘I mean, there’s nothing more for him to do now. He’s won 41CCs and is the breed record holder. He’ll be used at Stud, certainly, but he’s already sired champion children.’

Kevin and Sandy both expressed their extreme gratitude to all the well wishers who sent them cards and messages of congratulation on Phil’s win, whilst paying tribute to his breeders Jack and Francis Krall.

But although Phil may be retired, Sandy and Kevin have no such plans. ‘We’ve got a new dog arriving from the States on Friday that we’ve imported,’ says Sandy. ‘We’re going to see how he settles down, how he is and then consider some shows – he’s not entered anywhere yet.’
Of course, the new dog could do no worse than follow Phil’s lead and excellent example. After all, who knows what may lay ahead?

‘Maybe Phil will show him the way,’ smiles Sandy. ‘

That would be another dream come true. But we’re very happy with this dream right now. He’s our star, he really is.’

Mioni makes good

Reserve Best in show was taken in style by Lisa Bobrowski's Samoyed, Ch Vandreem Imperial Hermioni for Berezniki, aka ‘Mioni’. For this young two year-old bitch this was a tremendous accolade, and one which Lisa was still reeling from on Wednesday of this week.

‘I can’t tell you how I feel, there aren’t words enough,’ says Lisa, from her home in Woking, Surrey. ‘I really couldn’t wish for anything else.’

Lisa was quick to pay tribute to Kevin and Sandy Cullen on their BIS win. ‘I’m so pleased for Kevin and Sandy – I’ve followed their dogs for some time and have admired Phil over the years, It was such a well deserved win,’ she says.

So what does the future hold for Mioni?

‘Oh, I’m going to carry on campaigning her,’ says Lisa emphatically. ‘She’s still young and she’s showing well. I love her to bits and she loves showing.’

Lisa is often accompanied to shows by her mother and her daughter, whilst husband Stan tends to leave the showing side of things to her. ‘Stan’s the unsung hero and puts up with a lot,’ she says. ‘He holds the fort back home while we’re off showing and I’m grateful for that. But he’s quietly over the moon with Mioni’s win too.

‘She’s a bit of a handful she wants to be – a lot of Samoyeds are, but I’ll let her off her naughty habits at home for a while. But when she’s in he ring, she’s a real star – quite a Jekyll and Hyde in many respects.’

Lisa also expressed thanks to the many well wishers who have contacted her since Mioni’s win, and added that her breeder Andrea Kirkwood was also ‘over the moon’.