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Champion Stakes and Pup of the Year Finals 2020

Issue: 07/02/2020

Held at Chesford Grange Hotel, Coventry on Saturday 1st February 2020

Report by 
Kerry Rushby

Photographs by 
Lisa Croft-Elliott

Champion Stakes winner Melanie Raymond pictured
with Nicola Fox-Haggarty, General Manager (UK and Ireland)

In 2008 the very first Eukanuba finals took place in the UK, bringing together the finalists whom compete at General Championship shows during the year. Each show finalist then competes against around twenty other finalists, for the coveted title of ‘Eukanuba Champion/Puppy Stakes Winner.

Pup of the Year winner Shaun & Helen Layton
pictured with Nicola Fox-Haggarty, General Manager (UK and Ireland)

It is no easy competition for the exhibitors, and certainly no easy task for judges at each of the general championship shows to send finalists through, from some excellent competitors, some of who are breed record holders, group winners and Best in Show all breed winners.

Stewards Ernie & Anne Bliss pictured with Nicola Fox-Haggarty,
General Manager (UK and Ireland)

The Puppy final was scheduled for a 3pm start. Ring stewards Ann Bliss and Ernie Paterson requested that all spectators move in to the room and be seated to enable the competition to start. Once all spectators were seated, compares, Graham and Ann Hill (Welsh KC Secretaries) welcomed all spectators and began the finale. Eukanuba’s Phil Davies escorted the secret judge in to the ring, as Graham Hill completed the introductions and the judge for the Puppies was announced as the very well known and popular Paul Eardley.


 Paul is no stranger to the world of dogs,  having been born into the sport, growing up with dogs surrounding him. Paul has made up multiple Champions under his family’s kennel name, Sherex. Paul competed in Junior handling at shows throughout the UK and  whilst still in his tee he awarded his first set of CCs in Australian Terriers. Now Paul is passed to award CCs in ten Terrier breeds and has judged groups several times in the UK. Throughout the years, Paul has qualified the kennel’s dogs for the Champion and Pup of the Year stakes, plus piloting the breed to multiple group and Best in Show wins at all breed championship shows, plus Crufts Best of Breeds.


Paul narrowed his shortlist down to just eight dogs. I am certain that more dogs would have been worthy of a shortlist as the final did consist of Top Puppies in breeds during 2019, including a Top Puppy all breeds and even top puppy in groups, were also represented. 

Pup of the Year finalists line up for judge Paul Eardley.

Paul chose number 15, Joneva Born to Thrill as his final winner. Sidney to his friends is bred by John Evans and Peter Pavey, owned by seven-year-old Samuel Layton. Sidney was handled by Samuel’s Mum, Helen Howard. During 2019, Sidney achieved multiple Best Puppy in Breeds, Best Puppy in Show at Belfast Championship show in September, a total of two puppy group 1s, multiple puppy group placings and two Reserve CCs to date. 

Champion Stakes shortlist.


Sidney comes from a very strong bloodline, his father is Top Pointer 2019 and Dog CC record holder, Sh Ch Chesterhope Thrill Of T Chase (Imp NZL) and on his mother’s side, his Grandfather, Sh Ch Millpoint Top Hat N’tails is the Top Pointer Stud Dog. Sidney certainly has big shoes to fill as he progresses through his age classes. 

Lisa Croft-Elliott was the official photographer for the event.

Second place to Sidney was Ann and Marie Burns’ homebred West Highland White Terrier, Burneze I’m Still Standing ‘Stan’. Stan was the last finalist of POTY winning the place at Manchester just last month under Simon Luxmoore. A very successful show for him as he also nailed Best Puppy in Show there, under Mark Cocozza. Another star for the future as he descends from top winning Westies from the Burneze kennel. 

The Eukanuba Team (l-r):  Julie Hearsey, Erica Greenwood,
Steve Green, Nicola Fox-Haggarty and Phil Davies

Third place in the competition and a youngster who has had a sterling career so far, Nick Gourley and Andrew Leonard’s English Toy Terrier, Ch Witchstone Unexpected Gift. Tina is a winner of three CCs from the puppy classes, Top ETT Puppy 2019 and runner up Top Toy in group. BPIS at City of Birmingham and Driffield, and Best Junior in Show at City of Birmingham. For Nick and Andy, Tina is the gift that keeps on giving. A very exciting future for her.

Comperes for the event were Graham & Ann Hill

Placed fourth in the puppy finals, was the Bichon Frise, Ashoka Blaze of Glory at Keunnevek, owned by Sharon and David Walton, handled by Tamara Wallbridge. Moose has had a great puppy career, winner of two CCs to date, plus multiple puppy wins including Puppy Group 1 at Paignton Championship show. 


A short coffee and toilet break took place as official photographers completed their job of taking photos of the placed dogs before the Champions were judged.
Once again, as 4.30pm arrived, stewards Ann Bliss and Ernie Patterson asked all guests and spectators to re-enter the room and be seated, to allow the competition to take place.
Graham Hill took to the mic to introduce the Judge, who was led in to the room once again by Eukanuba’s Phil Davies. We welcome Dr Ron James to judge the final for the Eukanuba Champion Stakes 2019.
Ron has a lifetime involvement with dogs and shows. A breeder and exhibitor of Bullmastiffs, Pointers and Basenji’s under his ‘Jasmorne’ affix. Currently Ron is passed for 26 breeds in the Gundog Group, 22 breeds in the Hound Group, and breeds across the Pastoral, Utility and Working breeds. Ron has also judged Best in Show at all breed Championship shows in the UK. Currently Ron serves as the Secretary of Richmond Dog Show Society.
 From an excellent line up of Champions with multiple CCs between them all, including Top Dog All Breeds, Runner Up Top Dog All Breeds, Group and BIS winners, Ron chose eight dogs for his final consideration.
 French Bulldog, Ch Chelmbull The Aviator, American Cocker Spaniel, Sh Ch Afterglow Life of Brian, Cocker Spaniel, Sh Ch Annilann Miss Zing JW, Bichon Frise, Ch Regina Bichon You Rock My World at Pamplona, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Ch Mybeards Hero, Australian Shepherd Dog, AKC ASCA Ch Wyndstar Magic Marker (Imp USA), West Highland White Terrier, Ch Burneze Maid To Order, and Schipperke, Am Ch HR Ch Whispering Pines Covert Op. 
As Ron requested for each dog to move one more time, the boards were called and placed first and the overall winner, much to the audience’s joy, was the Australian Shepherd, Mark. Campaigned in the UK by co-owner Melanie Raymond, Mark has won the hearts of so many during his time in the UK, Top Dog All Breeds UK 2019, Five Best in Show all Breeds, 12 Group 1s, RBIS at Birmingham National, Bath and Three Counties. Mark is off to a great start already in 2020, winning Best in Show at Manchester last month. He is owned by Kerry Kirtley (breeder), Dori Erdesz, John Shaw and Melanie. 
Runner Up went to the Bichon Frise, Pablo. A Multi group, Best in Show and CC winning dog, Pablo finished 2019 as Runner Up Top Dog All Breeds. Shown by Michael Coad, and co-owned with Rich Smith. 
Third place in the final went to the Cocker Spaniel, ‘Puppet’ has had a successful show record, including multiple CCs, and last month, Reserve Best in Show at Manchester Dog Show. 
Fourth place in the Champions stakes was awarded to West Highland White Terrier, Ch Burneze Maid To Order. A Multi CC winning Bitch, and Top Puppy of the breed in 2019, her Mother is the Crufts Best in Show winning WHWT, Ch Burneze Geordie Girl. 
 As the competition completed, it was time to head back to the rooms and change into evening attire as Eukanuba provided a superb three course dinner, entertainment and dancing, including our very own, Jeff Luscott who very ably took on the role of DJ for the evening. A perfect time to unwind, chat amongst friends and really enjoy the company until the early hours. 
The event could not be possible without the support of Eukanuba. Each finalist received merchandise and a rosette to congratulate them all on reaching the very strong final, plus vouchers for the final four in each competition. 
Lisa Croft-Elliott provided live streaming for the internet and photographs during the day and evening to capture the special moments for everyone.
The team at Eukanuba are always welcoming during the show season, great to see Julie Hearsey lead the organisation once more of such a great event, and the team Phil Davies and Erica Greenwood there as support to ensure everyone had an enjoyable day and an experience to remember. Thank you to Eukanuba for a great weekend. On behalf of the dog show community, I hope that Eukanuba will continue to run this event, to highlight the success of the UKs top winning dogs and puppies.
 Good luck to all finalists who will compete at Crufts, the next  big  event in the dog show calendar!

Pup of the Year - Judge Paul Eardley

PAUL EARDLEY has been involved with dogs and the world of dog showing for his entire life. His parents were both involved in the hobby and helped to run a local training club in his home town of Congleton in Cheshire which he routinely attended. 
He was a junior handler and participated in the very first junior handling final organised by Joe and Liz Cartledge at Stoneleigh in the early 70’s handling one of his parent’s Australian Terriers. Believe it or not, he qualified handling a Bulldog as he owned two of them at the time. 
By the age of 14, he was actively participating in the regular competition winning his first CC with an Aussie when he was in his teens and judging Aussies for the first time while he was still at school. 
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since those days. He campaigned Aussies in partnership with his late mother and over the last 18 years or so with Sue McCourt and he is delighted to say that the Aussie has moved on from being an “also ran” in the terrier group to a breed that more than holds its own relative to the size of the breed entries. Those years have included winning the first BIS at an all breeds championship show, campaigning an Aussie to top terrier in the UK and two further general championship show BIS. There have also been seven Pup of the Year qualifiers. Not forgetting an awful lot of fun, laughter and good friendships along the way. 
His mother’s and his interest in Dandie Dinmonts began in the late 80’s after his father passed away and he has been consistently involved in that breed as well. 
At Breed Club level, he is a former Secretary, Show Manager and Chairman of the Australian Terrier Club of Great Britain and he still sit on its Committee. He has Chaired the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club for the past 10 years. 
His judging career was a bit of a slow burn as he was very much an exhibitor. He was approved to award CCs in Aussies in his twenties but did not really start to judge other breeds until much later. He is approved to award CC’s in 10 terrier breeds and judge the terrier group at championship shows. He judges regularly at open shows including BIS. 
He is currently a Director of the Kennel Club, the Chairman of its Audit and Risk Committee, the terrier representative on the Breed Standards and Stud Book Committee and a member of the Finance Committee. He is also Chairman of The Kennel Club Staff Pension Scheme. 
Outside of dogs, he is the Company Secretary and General Counsel of a listed company specialising in corporate governance, corporate law and corporate finance. He was qualified as a Solicitor in 1986.
He added: “It is an absolute honour and a privilege to be invited to judge the Eukanuba Pup of the Year Final, something that I could never have imagined back in my junior handling days. Thank you.”

Champion Stakes - Judge Dr Ron James

RON JAMES first became interested in the world of show dogs as a schoolboy. In the early years he was involved with Bullmastiffs which his mother bred and exhibited under the Morejoy affix. This early exposure to the art of breeding pedigree dogs stimulated Ron’s interest in veterinary science. 
Having completed his university studies and established his career pathway Ron registered his own affix (Jasmorne) and started to breed and show Pointers as a hobby. The best known of Ron’s Pointers were Sh Ch Jasmorne Democrat who won his second CC from the junior class at Crufts, attained his title at 17 months and achieved the distinction of becoming a general championship show Best In Show winner by the age of 22 months. Sh Ch Jasmorne Isabella was another big winner gaining numerous CCs and taking several Gundog Groups. Ron later developed an interest in the Basenji and campaigned several of the breed to their titles.
Ron’s first judging appointment was at a Southern Bullmastiff Society Limited show after which he progressed to his first CC appointment for the breed in 1972. Since then he has been approved to award CCs to 68 breeds across the Gundog, Hound, Pastoral, Utility and Working groups and has judged Best in Show at UK Championship Shows on seven occasions since 2006. 
Ron has also judged abroad in many European countries as well as in Australia and New Zealand.
Over the years, Ron has served on several Breed Club committees and is currently President of the Setter and Pointer Club. He was elected to the Committee of the Richmond Dog Show Society in 1997 and has undertaken the duties of Honorary Secretary for the past 15 years. Ron is also a member of the Kennel Club and is currently a member of the Board and Chair of the Judges’ Committee.

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