The hall at the KC building situated at Stoneleigh, was decked out superbly, and no expense had been spared to provide a lovely
setting for the final. A huge black screen at one end gave the exhibitors some privacy to prepare their dogs and themselves, the ring had large
photos of all the exhibits, which on entering the ring they stood in front of. A great idea was that the judge of each heat came into the ring behind the dog they had sent through and stood beside their choice. I’m sure those who managed to attend were very proud of the dogs they sent through.
The three judges, myself, Ken Sinclair and Sean Delmar from Ireland and the IKC were introduced and we went to our tables to await the first two dogs. A draw had taken place earlier and the exhibits sent through as per a match situation. Sometimes this can look a little unfair, when a
lovely dog comes up against the eventual winner in the first round and maybe two of lesser quality get a chance to go through if drawn in an
easier match, but that is just the luck of the draw.
I think all three of us were very pleased with the final 12, and I know all my final six won through too, so I think we were all thinking along the same lines. The final six were placed in reverse order which added to the excitement.
We had all marked the final six with marks out of 100, after a final look and move, so there was very little chance of a dead heat! The
outstanding winner was of course the lovely Vizsla, handled by John Thirwell, second a super GSP just 14 months old, third the well-known Boxer, fourth the great Bulldog, fifth a handsome Akita and sixth the good moving Dalmatian.
The commentary all afternoon was ably handled by Andrew Brace and he kept us all in suspense as the dogs were placed. All were very well received by the knowledgeable ringside and the Vizsla drew great applause.
Exhausted, we all drove to a nearby hotel for a very welcome evening dinner. The speeches were kept short, and the presentations were made to all the winners, judges, stewards and helpers. Lovely that Ann Foxwell got a special bouquet for being the longest serving distributor of Eukanuba too! The organisers must be congratulated on hosting such a well-organised and spectacular event. I recommend all owners of Champion show dogs to enter the heats next year and try to qualify; you won’t be disappointed.
Zena Thorn Andrews
I was delighted to be invited to be one of the judges at the inaugural Eukanuba Champion Stakes. My fellow judge Zena Thorn Andrews has I believe already described the judging system which eventually brought to the fore the well known and top winning Vizsla.
Having given this dog a BIS earlier in his career at Border Union, I have to say I thought him a very worthy winner. I was most impressed with the second placed GSP who although still quite young was very eye catching.
In third spot the Boxer, who again I have given a BIS to although this was at an open show a while back. The fourth placed Bulldog we now hear is the one going forward representing the UK at the World Challenge and of course we all wish him every success.
My thanks to Eukanuba and all exhibitors for a super day.
Ken Sinclair n
I was delighted and honoured to be part of the panel chosen to judge the Champion Stakes final from which a dog would be chosen to
represent UK at The Eukanuba World Challenge in Long Beach.
View pictures by clicking here
The ring layout was very impressive particularly the giant posters of each of the qualifiers and I liked the idea of the judges who qualified being introduced with the dog. The 'match' format was used from a draw done just before judging and where I accept that this adds some expectation and tension, I personally do not like it as it runs the risk of the second best dog being eliminated in the first round. However, when the qualifiers were down to 6 a points scoring system, done independently by each judge, was used in calculating the final 6 placings and I think this worked well. Andrew's commentary kept it moving and the winners were well received.
I expected more performance from some of the dogs, but those who did 'turn up' certainly showed off quality and ring presence of the highest level and any country would be proud to have any of the qualifiers as their
There was a really nice social aspect to the entire event with no holding back by the sponsor and it was nice for Cathy and I to catch up with so many friends.
In my opinion this event has a great future and a lot of credit should go to Mike Bloxsome and his team at Eukanuba for hosting this event and giving the qualifiers the wonderful opportunity to represent UK in The Eukanuba World Challenge in December in Long Beach.
Finally my best wishes to the stunning English Bulldog who will represent the UK at The Eukanuba World Challenge. It is an excellent choice being the canine symbol of Britain and a breed that has been unfairly criticised. This dog epitomises type and yet is perfectly healthy and agile. In short . . . the best of British.