Plan Stakes - Breathless, but a winner!
by Liz Stannard
EARLIER in the year than usual those lucky people - invited as guests
and whose dogs and bitches have qualified at the 14 shows that hold heats,
made their way to Eastnor Castle last Friday for the finals of Petplan
I was very privileged to be invited for dinner and to stay the night before
in the castle itself. Although the journey down the motorway was horrendous
(due to accidents) which made us very late, I soon got into the atmosphere
of the place. Sweeping down the wide staircase, drinks in the drawing
room with a big log fire, dinner at a table bedecked with silver cutlery
and bone china crockery, the beautiful pictures on all the walls, even
in the bedrooms which had the addition of four poster beds meant that
you could imagine yourself in another era very easily.
three judges pictured in the process of scoring the contestants.
year Petplan holds its finals in a stately home or castle - and we have
been to some very nice ones, Castle Ashby and Belvoir Castle being two
of the latest ones. However this year we went back for a second visit
to Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, not as old as it looks but a family home
with some beautiful furniture and pictures, in a setting overlooking sweeping
grounds and a lake which is in the process of being dredged. The house
is now licensed for weddings, one of which was taking place the following
day - and I can imagine the lovely photos there will be in that bride’s
morning’s proceedings take place in a marquee at the side of the house
reached via a spiral stone staircase, a bit like going down to the dungeons!
Inside there was an area for benching the lucky 28 dogs who were all able
to be present this year. The other side of the screen was a large score
board, which was maintained by Tim from Petplan during the judging (climbing
up and down a ladder to display the points awarded by the three judges).
The ring was surrounded by white picket fencing and on two sides by chairs
for the invited audience. This year a few had been invited just to watch
the competition, but as numbers are restricted they could not be accommodated
in previous years Andrew Brace was in charge of the microphone and with
his fantastic memory was able to give the audience a lot more background
information on the finalists than they had supplied, I am sure. Keith
Young - ably assisted by wife June - was once again in charge of the ring
management, another part of the team who have now become regulars.
Pictured at the Petplan Junior Stakes Final from l-r: Bert Easdon with
winner Yakee Leaving Me Breathless, judge Valerie Foss, Petplan Commercial
Director Nick Poole, second place Lesley Crawley with the Norwich Terrier
Ch Ragus Name Your Poison, judges Margaret Everton and Martin Freeman.
Petplan team was this year headed by a new face Nick Poole, the Commercial
Director who has only been in the post for six weeks but is very enthusiastic
and hopes to go to a number of the shows during next year. He has already
been to an exemption show with his Large Munsterlander and is looking
forward to seeing a championship show but not as an exhibitor!
Perks was again heading the team and had organised the event in her usual
capable fashion. Jill Peak - known to us all at the shows - was able to
see her hard work in the field come to fruition.
for the event Andrew Brace is seen here taking control of the proceedings.
a welcoming coffee everyone assembled and Nick Poole thanked us all for
coming and welcomed us to the seventh Petplan final. He introduced us
to this year’s three judges, all of whom have awarded best in show at
championship shows, before handing over to Andrew who introduced all of
the dogs into the ring one by one. The judges walked around briefly looking
at the competitors while Andrew explained to the audience how the judging
would take place. All dogs left the ring and the judges positioned themselves
individually on three sides and awaited the first dog in. This was the
Norwich Ch Ragus Name Your Poison who had qualified at Manchester, under
Frank Jones, he was judged on the table by Margaret Everton looking very
bright in pale blue to offset the tan which she had gained in Trinidad,
having returned home only two days earlier. The Norwich then went across
the ring to be judged by Valerie Foss while Mrs Everton gave her marks
to one of the smart young Petplan girls. These marks were out of ten for
Conformation and Type and were given by each judge for every dog straight
after handling it.
the time the first dog moved onto the third judge Martin Freeman, there
were three dogs in the ring and that is how it carried on, until all the
dogs and then all the bitches had been judged. Then they were brought
back in for the judges to assess movement on a triangle and then straight
up and down one at a time so they had the whole ring to themselves. During
this the marks were displayed on the large screen so the audience could
see how their favourites were doing and on their own sheets keep a running
total. It all seems very complicated but once you see it in action it
is easy to understand. As the judges are not allowed to confer and the
audience has no idea who has awarded what in points it makes you aware
that you cannot ringside judge, you need to put your hands on especially
with the coated breeds.
From the first round of points it was a coated breed that held the lead
by one point at first but after the movement points went ahead and did
not lose that advantage. It should be no surprise to learn that it was
that ace breeder Bert Easdon with a Yakee Peke. Yakee Leaving Me Breathless,
who has not been shown often but has managed to win two CCs and two reserves
in the shadow of his illustrious companion.
the movement points were added up the five dogs with the highest sub-total
were asked back into the ring and these were, the Norwich Terrier Ch Ragus
Name Your Poison, who had won reserve best in show at Southern Counties
and has won three Terrier groups, shows as always by his owner breeder
Les Crawley. The Pekingese, known as Les at home, who had qualified at
Bath under Dr Nishi, the Miniature Poodle bitch Navarre Is Explicit JW
who is granddaughter of ‘Executive’ the poodle record holder and following
in the footsteps of ‘Exemplary’ who was third in these finals in 1999,
again shown by her clever owner breeder Liz Holmes-Leak, she qualified
at Bournemouth under Nan Kirk. After her came the Italian Greyhound Salatini
Symphony who has two CCs and also has litter brothers and sister with
CCs they won as pups. Shown very elegantly by owner breeder Nicki Hunter
and, like the poodle bred from a champion bitch, she had won through at
City of Birmingham under Brenda Banbury. The fifth finalist was another
bitch the Lhasa Apso Saxonsprings Secret Dreams shown by owner breeder
Ken Woosnam who is no stranger to this event being like Liz a previous
winner. Secret Dreams was the last qualifier to come through from Belfast
under June Freeman. There were a number of competitors who had been in
finals before and as usual there were some dogs who had perhaps not gone
on to fulfil the potential they looked to have on the day they won their
were now awarded one extra point and moved and showed again for the judges
to award marks for Star Appeal - something they have either got or haven’t
got. At this stage it was still not a foregone conclusion as there were
two on 171 points, one on 174, one on 175 and the leader on 178, but as
the judges had three points each to give out it still could go any way.
this stage Andrew announced that there was a tie and asked the Norwich
and the Lhasa to remain in the ring while the judges without conferring
decided which was to win the tie (but not the competition as far as we
knew as we were not told for what place they were tieing), all very exciting.
Within minutes all five were back in the ring and Keith Young had walked
down to Andrew for him to announce the winners in reverse order, as the
total points appeared on the score board to the sound of torrential rain
hammering on the marquee roof.
fifth place was the Miniature Poodle, fourth the Italian Greyhound, third
the Lhasa, second on the nod the Norwich and still holding onto his three
point lead with 85 out of a possible 100 was the Peke looking not at all
Photos were taken and presentations made, including one to the judges
received a lovely hamper as did the main workers. Nick Poole closed that
part of the proceedings by thanking us all for coming, inviting us to
lunch telling us that Petplan would provide umbrellas to get us back in
to the house as the rain was now so heavy it was running under the sides
of the marquee.
A little damp we gathered in the Octagon Room for champagne before going
into a lovely lunch where we were able to discuss the mornings proceedings
and see where we differed in the points to the three efficient judges.
Later some of us took a guided tour of the house which was very interesting
and gave some of us ideas if we should ever win the lottery.
is to be congratulated on the ideas of these fine venues - so much more
fitting than a hotel to display the best of our Juniors.
Well known Petplan representattive Jill Peak receiving her gift from
Petplan Commercial Director Nick Poole, together with Mark Cocozza.
Guests at the Petplan finals are pictured here l-r: Michael Coad,
Geoff Corish and Sue McCourt.
Andrew Brace received his thank you gift from Jenny Perks, Events
Manager and Commercial Director Nick Poole.
The highest place bitch at the final, in third place, was the Lhasa
Apso axonsprings Secret Dreams, seen here with owner/breeder/handler
Winning VHC at the Petplan finals was Liz Holmes-Leak with her Miniature
Poodle Navarre Is Explicit JW.
Nikki Hunter with her Italian Greyhound Salatini Symphony won Reserve
in the Junior takes Final.
Each year the winner receives a handmade solid silver collar crafted
by Bloodhound enthusiast Peter Hardy, pictured here.
One of the judges was Valerie Foss, and she is seen here with Les
Lund (Secretary of Manchester Championship Dog Show) and Irene Lund.
Commentator for the event was Andrew Brace, pictured here with Irene
Bennett,and Jack Bennett , Secretary of Blackpool champ show.
OUR DOGS Managing Director Vince Hogan is pictured here with event
photographer Carol Ann Johnson.
Second place at the Stajes Final was Lesley Crawley, pictured here
with two other Terrier enthusiasts Martin Phillips and Andrew Gullick.
One of the OUR DOGS representatives at the event was Nancy Bassant
(left), seen here with competitor Susan Crummey.
Dianna Spavin and daughter Melanie are seen here with Geoff Corish.
Chief Steward at the final was City of Birmingham Secretary Keith
Young who is pictured here with his wife June (r), Bill King of Pedigree
and Windsor Secretary Irene Terry.
Working hard at the event were Jill Peak and Mark Cocozza, seen here
with two other Petplan staff.