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Kennel Club Olympia ABC Semi-Final

The Kennel Club Olympia ABC Semi-Final, supported by Pedigree,
was hosted by Newton Heath DTC
at Tatton Park, Cheshire, on Saturday 20th June 2009. Here Judge Alan Clements and Dave Ray,
representing the KC and Pedigree, provide an overview of the event...

The top ten line-up
who all gained places in the final

The top three finalists of the Kennel Club Olympia ABC Semi-Final held
in Tatton Park, Cheshire

AS USUAL this was the first big event of the season as far as qualifying for Olympia is concerned. And it is one of the most prestigious competitions showcasing, as it does, a huge variety of different breeds that compete in agility.

As the name suggests the competition is open to any breeds except those who are Border Collies and their crosses and this year was no exception with such diverse breeds including Kelpies, Lurchers, Belgians, Gundogs and even a Great Dane cross competing. With all the bad publicity recently about the health of our pedigree dogs it is really heartening to see such a good selection of breeds competing in a very strenuous sport.

Although we were to witness such a fantastic final it was tinged with a little sadness as the organising club, Newton Heath, had decided that this was to be the last semi-final they would host. Newton Heath and Pauline Baltes, Mavis Sherwin and Brenda Tenten were the instigators of this competition many years ago and what a huge success it has been; however, with running an extremely popular Championship show it was becoming more and more difficult for Newton Heath to find both the time and space at the show to stage this very important event. The difficulties were probably highlighted this year in that the semi-final could not start until the completion of all of the classes and hence it was after 7pm before it started - and with over 60 dogs competing it was not going to be a very early finish.

Stiff competition

The semi-final course was sympathetic to the type of dog competing. Although there was a degree of difficulty to suit the event there was enough space so the long striding and long jumping breeds had enough room to complete the course with style.

The unfortunate soul who was drawn first out of the 65 starters was a previous winner of the final - Nigel Staines, well known for his very talented Kelpies and also his dedication and concentration at major events. When running first you just have to throw caution to the wind and just go for it and that is exactly what Nigel did. His Kelpie, Dragonheart Dark Destroyer, absolutely flew faultlessly round the course and finished with a clear round in 31.51 and we just didn’t think that would be possible to beat because it was absolutely stunning. Next to go was a previous winner of the Belgian Shepherd Dog World Championships: Andy Brown with his Groenandal and he also put in another stunning clear round just 0.15 behind Nigel Staines and into second place. A position he would hold for the next 53 dogs. Running fifth, Joanne Apostolou with her Malinois put in a clear 3 seconds behind Andy Brown in 35.04 only to be pushed into 4th place two dogs later by Gill Raddings with her Terveuren in a clear of 33.33. But three dogs later Diane Griffin entered the arena with her Groenandal and put in another stunning clear round in 32.84 and went into 3rd place. At this point in the competition of course it looked like we were going to have the Kelpie and Belgian Shepherd in the final but that didn’t last long because running thirteenth was Daniel Slinkert with his crossbreed, Mr Pudding Esquire, who put in a clear in 36.31 and went into 6th place, this dog looks like a Schnauzer crossed with a Great Dane and looks very endearing. He was soon pushed down a place because next on the line was Nigel Staines with another one of his Kelpies, this time his young one, who went into 6th place, even though Nigel looked as though he was trotting round knowing full well that he could only qualify one dog for the ABC final at Olympia. Running seventeenth Daphne Loveland tried hard with her Kelpie and although producing a clear round it wasn’t fast enough to get into the qualifying places. Running 32nd Karen Young with her Bearded Collie, Rock Melody, produced a super clear round in 32.33 which put them into 3rd place at that moment. We had to wait until dog 43 to see another clear round and this was produced by Dave Strachan with his Lurcher and although he completed a good clear in 37.93, again this was another dog out of the qualifying places. Running 55th Anna Braley stepped up to the plate with her Kelpie, Revel without a Pause - they completed an unbelievable clear round snatching the lead from Nigel Staines by half a second with a time of 31.23. The next clear came from Jane Anderson with another Kelpie and into 6th place she went with a clear in 33.24 but one dog later she was pushed into 7th place by that old hand Ray Ellerton partnered by one of his adorable Lurchers and they put in a clear of 31.79 to leave them with a very creditable 3rd place in the overall results.

Let’s just hope that Ray has recovered in time for the final as he hopped out of the arena on one leg at the end of his round.

Top ten

It had been a super competition but it was a great shame it was unavoidably held so late in the day but we did have a good crowd watching this very last semi-final at Newton Heath show with a great atmosphere. The top ten were destined for the big Kennel Club Olympia semi-finals in December and, as previously explained, since Nigel Staines had two dogs in the top ten and can only take the highest placed one, an invitation was extended to the 11th place handler and dog - Daniel Slinkert and Mr Pudding Esquire. We have a good selection of breeds for the final in December dominated by Kelpies and Belgian Shepherds. There was a lot of joking around the ring about renaming the competition the ABCK - yes, that’s right: Anything But a Collie or a Kelpie!
Some interesting facts about the final, we had 13 dogs with clear rounds, 20 dogs with faults and 22 with eliminations. The last ABC semi-final was surely one of the best there has been. It is undecided where the semi-final in 2010 will be held after the tremendous support given by Newton Heath, and the Kennel Club supported by Pedigree will now take responsibility for this competition and a number of venue options are being looked at. It certainly needs a venue and facility to reflect its importance; I think we would like to move the date to later in the year to enable us to hold all the heats in the same calendar year as the final.

1st Anna Braley Revel Without a Pause
(Kelpie) C 31.235
2nd Nigel Staines Dragonheart Dark Destroyer
(Kelpie) C 31.51
3rd Ray Ellerton Learn to Fly
(Lurcher) C 31.799
4th Andy Brown Heidron Chasing Stormy Sky
(Groen) C 32.056
5th Karen Young Rock Melody
(Beardie) C 32.331
6th Diane Griffin Heidron Fin's Chasing Time
(Groen) C 32.843
7th Jane Anderson Cories Boomerang Bindi
(Kelpie) C 33.246
8th Gill Raddings Minka Morgan Check
(Terveuren) C 33.333
9th Joanne Apostolou Sabrefield Xciting Story AW
(G) (Malinois) C 35.045
10th Nigel Staines Morgans Assassin
(Kelpie) C 35.543
11th Daniel Slinkert Mr Pudding Esquire
(Crossbreed) C 36.311

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