The winning Champion Stakes line-up, in first place the Saluki, MacDonalds Ch Maybrooka Jayid; in second place the Irish Wolfhound, Goodalls Ch Driftcot Orlando, and in third place the Basenji, Hardy & Hallams Ch Akmar Akhetaten at Tokaji
year the Pedigree Stakes Finals, held on Saturday 24th January
at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry, celebrated its 25th Anniversary,
which incorporated a different format from previous years.
As I drove onto the complex towards the venue, just after 9am, I could see the car park already filling up with dogs being walked into the venue and in some cases pushed along in cages, and I made my way to the foyer to collect my "paperwork" which included my lunch ticket, to be greeted by a host of cheery Pedigree staff, busily assisting the arrivals and directing people to the hall.
We were greeted by coffee/tea and a slice of celebratory cake in the Warwick Hall and as I mingled, chatting to people at various tables, I really began to get the feel of the day, as I saw many familiar, friendly faces from the world of pedigree dogs. Judges, breeders, exhibitors, handlers, show secretaries, distinguished officers of Committee, invited guests, parents, friends, and supporters, looking forward to an enjoyable day, courtesy of our generous hosts, Pedigree Masterfoods. The real stars of this event, the dogs were benched away from the main ring which, as usual was laid out in "typical Pedigree style", green carpet and white picket fence. Once I had secured my catalogue, I quickly had a look at the contents, located the Our Dogs stand, and then wandered through the main room speaking to guests and visitors alike. I enjoyed my few moments with Miss Sybil Churchill, who as well as being Secretary of LKA is also Chairman of WELKS. We recalled the history of the "Finals" and she told me the first of these events were held at LKA way back in l977!
Before the judging commenced, like many others, I took the golden opportunity to view the marvellous painting that Pedigree Masterfoods had commissioned Stuart Mallard to do of last year's Crufts BIS winner, Ch Yakee A Dangerous Liaison, resplendent, set off in a beautiful frame, on an easel. What struck me about this painting were the eyes of the dog, captured with typical oriental disdain, looking so life like. "Danny" pictured on an oriental stool, captured on canvas, right down to every detail, set off against an ideal blended background of the forbidden city in Peking. Truly a "work of art". I am reliably informed that by painting the Crufts BIS winner, Stuart has fulfilled one of his life's ambitions within his artistic career.
I find this multi talented artist so modest about his work. When I asked how long it had taken him to complete the painting he replied 2 to 3 months, obviously including quite a few sessions with the dog. In case they had missed a viewing, there was a chance for the assembled audience to view this masterpiece later in the day when the painting was paraded in the main ring for all to see; before being presented, later in the afternoon, to "Danny's" breeder / owner Bert Easdon by Patrick Hyskins of Pedigree Masterfoods. So, whilst photographs of this occasion were being taken, the audience needed little encouragement to show its appreciation of the artist and his work, quite justifiably so!
we had all taken our seats, the formal introductions began.
Tom Grant, National Breeder Manager, Show and Breeder Services
Division welcomed us all and introduced our commentator
for the day Bernard Hall, as usual very ably assisted by
his wife Rosemary. The stewards, Dennis Coxall and George
Morgan ably assisted by Suzy Roffey from Pedigree, who was
celebrating her birthday on the day, came into the ring
then the Veteran finalists were called in. Bernard introduced
the judge, well known Group judge, Albert Wight, who looked
sun-tanned and very smart in his blue pin stripped suit,
his red carnation matching his tie!
(Chatting to Albert before the judging commenced he told me when he was showing his Shelties he had been fortunate enough to make a champion in all three colours!) Himself no stranger to these finals as he was Ch stakes judge in l999. According to the catalogue there were 25 Veterans scheduled, but sadly three had since died. They were the Weimaraner, Sh Ch Ansona Murphy, the Saluki, Ch Mumtaz Moonmagic and the Pointer, Sh Ch Sandlebeat Baxter of Stockend.
Eventually after all the veterans had been seen, our judge shortlisted down to 10, then cut to the final five. Mr Wight shook hands with all those taking part as they left the ring and I gather they were presented with a gift as a reminder of the occasion. After a final last look at the dogs, he gave the nod to the stewards, a decision had been made, so the place boards were set in situ. The winner would receive £200 Pedigree produce and a large crystal lidded chalice. The judge invited the Samoyed to come out first. So the winner was Ch Zamoyski Lucky Casanova at Roybridge, born in December l994, he is owned by Bridget Enticott, handled by her grand daughter Donna Fleming, who looked very smart in her blue pin stripped trouser suit "Topper" was bred by Carole Hamilton of the Samoyski prefix. Drawn number 13 in the competition, in view of his name the number held no terrors for this boy!
The UK's breed record holder, with an impressive list of wins to his name, favourite pastimes, according to his owner include, socks, bananas and puppies as well as early nights! In 2nd place and the recipient of £125 Pedigree product and a medium crystal chalice, was the runner up from last year, June and Howard Parker's homebred Newfoundland, the ever youthful Ch Evanpark Ace Ventura J.W, the same age as the winner, handled as usual by Lisa Bridges whose bright two tone hair colour certainly guaranteed a second look! In third place, to receive £75. Pedigree produce and a small crystal chalice was the Field Spaniel Sh Ch Coralmist Constance of Jesham, aka "Connie" also born in l994. I believe, the first Field to qualify for the finals. She is owned by Ben and Jayne Bennett and was bred by Doreen Mowbray. Her delighted handler had a smile from ear to ear which can be seen in the photographs! In fourth place was the delightful Lancashire Heeler, Ch Foxthyme Material Girl, "Jess" born in l993 was the first Champion in the breed, has l8 tickets to her credit, was bred by Enid Lord and is owned by Colin and Denise Russell.
I believe at home she is always keen to help the postman put his letter through their letterbox! The fifth spot went to the Beagle, Ch Lowyck Kissin Cousin at Lusaff, born in l995, she is known as "Lucy" at home, was bred by Pat and Colin Lomax and is owned by Jim and Pat McKeown of Merseyside. She has 15 CCs under her belt and her owners say she "has saved them from obesity and extensive heart disease as she regularly eats them out of house and home"! Once the final selection was made, Bernard Hall introduced the Marketing Manager for Pedigree, Mr David Wilson who made the presentations, Sally Richards leading the way for the Pedigree team, and then of course, the photographers also made their way into the ring to capture the moment. A crystal memento was presented to Albert White by David Wilson from Pedigree and then the winning five dogs did a lap of honour one more time to great applause from the audience.
the Veterans out of the way it was time for the Junior Handlers.
For this, Bernard Hall handed the commentary for the event
to Frank Kane, no stranger to the microphone. Frank promptly
introduced the competitors and their dogs. 14 qualifiers
in the 2 age categories, spanning the seven groups, with
the winner representing the UK in the finals at Crufts,
together with £400 in prize money. The youngsters
were then invited to bring their dogs into the ring to great
applause from the audience. Once assembled, Frank then introduced
our judge for the competition, Geoff Corish, who was escorted
into the ring by Tom Grant.
Geoff "Forefather of the handling profession" across the 7 groups, also has the distinction of handling the BIS winner at Crufts on 2 occasions, and was the Veteran Stakes winner in l989 with "Fresno". He is one of the UK's top handlers, who as Frank said, " has been there, done that and got the tee shirt!" Geoff was smartly attired in a grey Armani suit with red carnation, white shirt and Gucci tan shoes (Thank you Michael). Geoff's stewards were Dennis Coxall, George Morgan and representing Pedigree, Shaun Williamson. As Geoff was going over the dogs, Frank explained the qualifying system for the youngsters, together with the format the competition would take. Geoff wasted no time in putting these handlers through their paces. Then, after a final once over, he made a short list of six which included Kate Vincent with her Field Spaniel, Karra Lawson with the Llasa Apso, Emily Bradley with the Wire Haired Fox Terrier, Daniel Petrie with his GSD, Amy Bennett with the Border Collie and finally Emma McLaughlin with a Papillon.
These six finalists were then instructed to leave the ring to change dogs and bring in new dogs (selected from the Veterans shown earlier) obviously that they were not familiar with. Geoff then thanked all the remaining junior handlers who after they left the ring to applause, were presented with mementos of the occasion. Whilst the change over was being put into action, there was opportunity for the presentation of The Treetops Shield, (in memory of Judy de Casembroot) made by Suzy Roffey, (herself JHA of the year in l989), to 13 year old Charlotte Nickel who had won it 6 times previously and last year qualified 52 times! Unfortunately it was at this point Frank had to ask the audience that had gathered in one corner at the top of the ring, on more than one occasion to be quiet, as their chatting was becoming increasing louder and louder.
He appealed to them to be quiet as we were approaching a very important part of the competition for dogs and their young handlers. Eventually, they were asked to return to their seats and the noise ceased. That done, the youngsters were then invited back into the ring, this time with their new charges. Kate with a Border Terrier, Karra with a Dalmatian, Emily with a Golden Retriever, Daniel with a Dandie Dinmont, Amy with an Italian Greyhound (the lovely "Bianca" whom I had met early in the day in her Red Father Christmas outfit !), and finally Emma with a Hungarian Vizsla. Once again Geoff went over the dogs and this time these youngsters really had to show how their versatility as they adapted to their new breeds. They did one last lap, left the ring, only to be reunited with their own breed, then back into the main ring. Just time for one last look from the judge, then he gave a nod to the stewards, he had made up his mind, the boards were put in place. In first place he selected 14 year old Kate Vincent, from West Sussex, dressed in a smart green skirt suit, handling "Beckham" the Field Spaniel she and her sister Lauren bred. She also qualified the dog to his JW the first of his breed on the new system. Apart from showing her dogs, Kate has very little free time was she is still in full time education, working towards her A-levels and is a supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. (We all have our crosses to bear!) When she has completed her education she hopes to be a drama teacher.
Second place went to 14 year old Emma McLaughlin, wearing a black suit, this time making her second appearance at the "Finals", handling "Snort" her Papillon who was given to her as a nineth birthday present. Two years ago, "Snort" was attacked by a Labrador whilst out walking. His injuries almost cost him his life, he has an amputated toe as a battle scar! Emma and "Snort" have a wonderful team of supporters, not least John and Gary Turner (Bodebi), Gary is also Emma's own "Style Consultant" and travels with her whenever possible, win or lose, Emma always looks a picture, thanks to Gary's creative flair! Emma has had a wonderful year, first making up her 1st Papillon champion and now 2nd in the JHA Finals, she is, understandably, "Over the Moon"! 3rd place and the prize of £100 donated by Richmond Ch show went to Amy Bennett, from London with her Border Collie, 4th place, with £75 donated by Leeds Ch show was Emily Leah Bradley from South Wales with a Wire Fox Terrier, 5th place, together with £50. donated by Windsor Ch show, to Karra Lawson from Warrington, Cheshire with a Lhasa Apso and finally 6th place, and £25 donated by Welsh Kennel Club went to the only boy in the line and from the younger age bracket (6-11 years), 9 year old, Daniel Petrie, no stranger to these finals, who enjoys all competitive sports, including darts, snooker, running and football and when he "grows up" he wants to be a professional dog handler! After the presentations to judge and handlers, they poised for the photographs, then it was time to make ready for the Champions.
Frank Kane handed the microphone back to Bernard Hall, who wasted no time in introducing The Special Champion Stakes, which adopted the same format as the Veteran finals, this time with 24 of the 25 entries present, just the Greyhound Ch Mistweave Making Waves absent. Bernard then introduced our judge, well known Group judge Clare Coxall, who looked lovely, neatly dressed in blue floral dress, together with pale blue jacket, Clare also had the distinction of judging the Veteran Stakes in 2000. Stewards were John Banbury, Isobell Dyke and representing Pedigree, Sara Pettit, Clare eventually selected her first short list of ten which included the Pem Welsh Corgi, Ch Penliath Shooting Star, St Bernard, Ch Harlesford Celebration for Chandlimore, Chinese Crested, Ch Blandora Time Bomb via Vanitonia, the Irish Wolfhound, Ch Driftcot Orlando, OES, Ch/int Ch Allmark Ralph Lauren, Basenji, Ch Akmar Akhetaten at Tokaji, PMD, Ch Laudley Dream Supreme, Saluki, Ch Maybrooka Jayid, Welsh Springer Spaniel, Sh Ch Highclare Energizer, and finally the Dobermann, Ch Sallate Hunter for Marchtay.
Those not in the final ten left the ring to applause to collect their mementos of the day. Then after another look at these remaining, Mrs Coxall indicated she was ready for her final selection. The place boards were set in place and her hand went out to the Saluki,Ch Maybrooka Jayid. This 4 year old dog, which was also last year's winner, is owned and handled by Anne MacDonald, of Glasgow, who looked delightful in her mulberry trouser suit. 2003 had proved an excellent year for him as he was also BIS at both WELKS and Midland Counties, so with this win under his belt and his recent BIS success at Manchester, 2004 also augurs well for this super hound.
Bernard Hall called upon Patrick Huyskens, Marketing Director of Pedigree to make the presentations to the judge and the five finalists. The winner was presented with £400 Pedigree product and a crystal presentation chalice. In 2nd place, with £250 Pedigree product and a large footed trophy, was the Irish Wolfhound, who is a granddaughter of the Irish Wolfhound who appeared earlier in the day in the Veteran finals, (I was sat with the owner/breeders at lunch!) Third place and £150 Pedigree product and a medium footed trophy went to the Basenji, 4th the Dobermann and 5th the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. All those taking part were presented with a memento of the day kindly donated by the generous sponsors. When the photographers had finished the winners left the main ring, no doubt for more photographs and smiles. There was time for one more round of presentations to Bernard and Rosemary Hall and Frank Kane for their commentary, to Liz Cartledge for her never ending work with the Juniors, to Keith Young for his sterling work. I gather the gifts were crystal for the men and hand ties of beautiful flowers for the ladies.
Bernard Hall eventually brought the proceedings to an end at and after a little wait which many of us got chance to look at the seating plan, to locate our places from the 24 tables, all decorated with silver balloons (silver anniversary), we filed into the Avon Suite for lunch.
The meal consisted of Prawn Cocktail with Apple and Iceberg Lettuce and tomato mayonnaise sauce, Roasted Loin of Pork with all the trimmings, (thankfully there was a veggie option). For dessert we were served individual Forest Fruit Crumble with Hot Vanilla sauce and of course, rounded off by coffee and mints. After lunch Tom Grant said a few words of thanks especially to all those concerned with the Finals and its successes. Norman Ziman replied on behalf of the guests, finally asking us to charge our glasses, the toast was "To Pedigree!", our very generous sponsors of this spectacular event. A final mention, next years Stakes are to be held on Saturday 29th January, venue to be announced, judges will be Terry Nethercott (Veterans) Suzy Roffey (Junior Handlers) and Jean Lanning (Champions).
The winning Veteran Stakes line-up, from left to right: in second place Parker's homebred Newfoundland Ch Evanpark Ace Ventura J.W, in first place the Samoyed, Enticotts Ch Zamoyski Lucky Casanova at Roybridge, and third the Field Spaniel, Bennetts Sh Ch Coralmist Constance of Jesham
The final Junior Stakes line-up: in first place Kate Vincent handling a Field Spaniel; in second place Emma McLaughlin with a Papillon, and in third place Amy Bennett handling a Border Collie.
- the judges report
a wonderful day & atmosphere at the new concept for
the Pedigree Stakes finals. It was such a success. Any move
and change of ideas is always a challenge and Tom Grant
and his team really pulled it off.
I was so honoured to be the judge for the Champion Stakes. It certainly is a challenge to step out into the ring & have the privilege of going over so many top quality dogs.
It is always a hard task when presented with a galaxy of the best to decide who will be pulled in for further consideration.
I selected the Welsh Corgi, Ch Penliath Shooting Star; St Bernard, Ch Poolsway Winning Spirit; Border Collie, Sh Ch Caristan Moet Chandon; Chinese Crested, Ch Blandora Time Bomb via Vanitonia; Irish Wolfhound, Ch Driftcot Orlando; Basenji, Ch Akmar Akhenaten at Tokaji; Pyrenean, Ch Laudley Dream Supreme; Saluki, Ch Mabrooka Jayid; Bearded Collie, Ch Kiltondale McAuley; WSS, Sh Ch Highclare Energizer; & the Dobermann, Ch Sallate Hunter for Marchtay.
The final five, picked from the above and placed first to fifth were the Saluki, Wolfhound, Basenji, Dobermann and Welsh Corgi. As they stood, I thought they were five of the best, all excelled in quality and richly deserved their placings.
The winner was so on top form, must have gone to a few rehearsals beforehand, putting in an immaculate performance, pleased me in every way.
The Wolfhound was so impressive, really used the ring, loved her head. The Basenji when going at the right pace for that breed, was so neat and precise, such an outline. The Dobermann I found a sheer pleasure to go over, everything right such a head, he put in such a strong performance, it was as the expression is word perfect and the Corgi, sheer quality to go over, so very sound.
What more can you say, a most memorable day.
- the judges report
venue may have changed as this year this much anticipated
event was not at the familiar Metropole Hotel, having moved
a bit further south to Stoneleigh. However, the warmth of
the welcome from Tom Grant and his dedicated team, together
with the organisational skills of Keith Young and his aides,
plus the velvet toned Bernard Hall acting as M.C. made sure
the event was a big success.
I had the pleasure of picking the Veteran winner and I have to say that the standard was as high as I can ever remember it. This is great credit to those judges who had officiated at the heats throughout the year and I found it no easy task simply to reduce the initial assembly to ten for further consideration. Dogs I have given top honours to on previous occasions failed to make this cut, but they were not disgraced.
Each exhibit was a credit to its breed and its owner. Breed type abounded, there was nothing overweight, all were in firm well muscled condition and in sparkling coat. And those mouths! They would put some of the younger exhibits to shame.
Those which did make the initial cut but not the final 5 placings were the dalmatian Ch. Buffrey Arrabelle at Daedalus showing her heart out, the Irish Wolfhound Ch. Culkeeran Seth, remarkably good front, easy stepping giant in super form, the rottweiler Ch./Ir.Ch. Rottessors Dollarmite at Tikaram who hasnt lost that desire to please his handler look for which he is famous, the PBGV Ch. Tanager Crème Caramel with that bright expression and the Puli Ch. Rockisland Pan Dancer, square, sound and beautifully presented.
Fifth place went to the Beagle Ch. Lowyck Kissin Cousin at Lusaff. What a charmer with that beautiful headpiece, the softest of expressions, well ribbed and so compact in body, tail perfectly set and carried, eye catching neck and backline and moving so freely in profile.
Fourth was one of my favourites, the Lancashire Heeler Ch. Foxthyme Material Girl. I have admired this delightful package since I first saw her and today she gave another 5 star performance. A comparatively recently recognised breed she is, for me, almost a ten-plate for the breed and her front is unbelievable. Has not aged in eyes and expression and thoroughly deserved this placing.
Third was a completely new face to me in the Field Spaniel bitch Sh. Ch. Coralmist Constance of Jesham. This liver stormed into the ring and really looked like she could work all day. Her rear action is tremendous, showing such drive. I loved her head, well detailed below the eyes which are soft and almost forgiving in expression. Her ribcage is so well developed, the loin strong and her outline has such appeal. I later learned she is not only a successful show bitch but she has a daughter with, I believe, 18 CCs! Well done.
Runner up (and I believe for the second year running!) was the newfoundland Ch. Evanpark Ace Ventura, a top drawer example of the breed and the type which must draw admirers to the newfie. Certain dogs simply have style, good looks, are shapely, move so well and give that little extra sparkle. He does all of that. I found it hard to believe that he is nine years old, he looks half that and he was presented and handled to perfection. He was desperately unlucky to come up against the winner as the Sammy has long been a favourite of mine.
My association with the Ch. Zamoyski Lucky Casanova at Roybridge goes back a long way. He has won a tremendous amount under me and today he pleased me yet again.
Show on a loose lead he was in best body and coat I can recall seeing him in for a very long time. And he is such a show off. The ears never down, the neck arched, his plumed tail up with his feet perfectly placed and the spotlights giving his guard hairs that silvery shimmer. These all added up to a picture of sheer class and in stance he looks an ultimate show dog.
However he is an awful handful for his ever patient handler as he is on his toes & plays up so much. He did not move with the cadence one expects from a star at the first time of asking and at one stage I did not think he would win.
Nonetheless. at the final run off he decided it was time to show that he can behave and he moved up and down perfectly and I just knew it had to be his day yet again. He was a popular winner.
My thanks to the organisers and to all those who attended and supported each of these outstanding veterans with such loud applause. It was indeed an event to be remembered.