Photo by William Moores
All the winners from last weekend’s Pedigree Stakes’ Finals parade in the main ring with judges (l to r) Mr Jack Bispham, Mr John Thirlwell and Mrs Zena Thorn-Andrew’s. From the left - Champions’ Stakes winner Miss M Harwood’s Miniature Poodle Ch Minarets Secret Assignment, winner of the Junior Handler of the Year was 16 year old Emma McLaughlin who showed a Papillon and the Veteran Stakes’ winner the Norfolk Terrier Ch/Am Ch Jaeva Dutch Gold owned by Andrew Gullick & Martin Phillips and handled by Andrew.
Rodney the Miniature Poodle annexed another top honour when he took the top spot in the Pedigree Special Champion Stakes Final 2006 under judge Mr Jack Bispham last weekend.
More formally known as Ch Minarets Secret Assignment, Rodney has been the top Poodle for the last three years and was the runner-up in the competition in 2004. Handled as usual by his breeder Melanie Harwood, Rodney has also amassed 48 CCs, 19 reserve CCs, 19 group wins and 10 BIS wins divided evenly between All Breed and Poodle championship shows. Rodney also won on the day, courtesy of Masterfoods, a crystal chalice, Pedigree products and a superb five-night trip to the 2008 Westminster Dog Show in New York (I think it will be Melanie, not Rodney, who will be availing of the travel prize!).
I know people laugh when they hear the saying ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ but in the case the saying was very apt as one looked around the ring at the assembled dogs as it is no mean feat to qualify for this competition. All the qualifiers are obviously champions but the mind boggles when trying to even begin to calculate their combined collection of CCs and RCCs. For example, the runner-up this year, Kevin and Sandy Cullen’s Giant Schnauzer, Ch Jafrak Phillippe Olivier is the breed recorder holder with 38 CCs and over 16 RCCs; in addition to winning 28 groups and 12 BISs, Philip was also the 2005 winner of this competition. The third place winner, David Guy’s homebred Griffon Bruxellois, Ch Donzeata Royal Tapestry is the both the top bitch and the top smooth breed record holder with 28 CCs.
Fresh from his fifth group win at Manchester was Japanese Akita Ch Redwitch Heaven Can Wait who took fourth place here. Co-owned by Jenny Killilea and Arlene Clure, Dollar is yet another breed record holder with 31CCs and 10 RCCs. Fifth in the competition was the New Zealand bred Afghan Ch. Aus & Nz Grand Ch Rainbow Aladin Of Jhanzi. Co-owned by Clare and Elizabeth Millward, Anne Wilson, Janine Brownless and his breeders, Alex Gilchrist and William Hansen, Aladin has 11 CCs.
There were actually three finals taking place during the afternoon in the Atrium Concourse in the NEC. The proceedings had commenced at two o’clock with the Pedigree Veteran Stakes Final which was judged by Mrs Zena Thorn-Andrew who chose as her winner Norfolk Terrier, Ch/Am Ch Jaeva Dutch Gold. Eric, who is co-owned by Andrew Gullick and his breeder, Martin Philips, was the Top Norfolk in 2000 and 2001, and is the only male in the breed to have won two BIS at all breed championship shows. Co-incidentally, Eric qualified at the last available show for this 2006 competition, LKA, and then, by winning the Veteran Stakes at the next show Manchester, he has already qualified at the first possible opportunity for the 2007 finals. Once again the overall winner was presented with a crystal chalice, Pedigree products and a trip to the 2008 Westminster Dog Show.
The runner-up in the Veteran Finals was the Saluki, Ch Baghdad Foreign Affair at Lokhandar. Imported from Australia, JJ commenced his career by winning the Puppy Stakes at 11 months and has since gone on to win seven CCs and nine RCCs; JJ is owned by Anne Ham and Keith Hadfield.
In third spot was another top winner, Billy and Tracey Fulton’s Hungarian Puli, Ch Rockisland Pan Dancer; Dante has won 13 CCs and 22 CCs. Fourth in the competition was Mhairi Aikman’s Standard Poodle, Ch Penling By Design At Namkia; Rico, who won the group at Crufts in 2003, has 13 CCs and 18 RCCs. The Pembroke Corgi breed record holder with fifty-seven CCs, Ch Penliath Shooting Star, was awarded the fifth spot. Owned and handled by her breeder, Chris Blance, Alice has clocked up numerous top awards including RBIS at Crufts 2001.
Throughout the day, the efficient organisation ensured that the timetable was closely observed so it was no surprise when the finalists in the Junior Handlers’ competition were assembled in the well-lit and large ring at the allotted 3pm, ready to be assessed by the judge-elect, Mr John Thirlwell. After moving all 14 finalists with their chosen dogs, Mr Thirlwell whittled the number down to six who then returned with ‘borrowed’ dogs. After moving them all again, the ladies (for it was a female dominated event this year) once again returned to the ring with their original dogs.
The Pedigree Junior Handler of the Year 2006 was declared to be Emma McLaughlin who was handling a Papillon, Ch Bodeloi Ray of Success at Lawford. Seventeen year old Emma has already qualified for next year’s competition but it will be unlikely that she will be able to attend as she will hopefully have commenced her chosen career as a dog handler in the army. The runner-up in the competition was Heather Rose while third was Tieryn Clark. Hannah Hatfield was fourth, Lucy Anan Maria Hankey took fifth place while sixth was Emily Thornton.
At the conclusion of the third competition, the Pedigree Champion Stakes, all that remained was for the commentator, Peter Jolley (who had been ably supported by Liz Stannard throughout the day) to invite the main winners to complete a lap of honour.
With the ‘serious’ part of the day over, many of the participants, audience and ‘workers’ departed to the Hilton Hotel to prepare for the evening’s festivities (an appropriate name for this short ‘Hello’-inspired paragraph). I am given to understand that certain members of the dog-show fraternity, during a pre-dinner ‘soirée’, attempted to break the world record for the number of people one can get into one bedroom!
Eight o’clock found everyone downstairs for the pre-drinks reception. It was enjoyable to view the socialites enter the room in their finery with their hair groomed to perfection, bodies bedecked in gold and with sequins sparkling – and that was just some of the men! After the enjoyable meal ended, those with energy were left to dance the night away while other simply sat and wiled the night away discussing what comes naturally on such occasions – dogs and dog showing.
Photo by William Moores
Overall winner in the Pedigree Champion Stakes’ Final was Miss M Harwood’s Miniature Poodle Ch Minarets Secret Assignment. Also pictured are judge Jack Bispham and Neil Thompson Pedigree’s National Breeder Services Manager
Photo by William Moores
Runner up in the Pedigree Champion Stakes’ Final was last year’s winner Mr & Mrs K Cullen’s Giant Schnauzer Ch Jafrak Philippe Olivier. Also pictured are judge Jack Bispham and Neil Thompson Pedigree’s National Breeder Services Manager
Photo by William Moores
Overall winner of the Veterans’ Stakes final was the Norfolk Terrier Ch/Am Ch Jaeva Dutch Gold owned by Andrew Gullick & Martin Phillips and handled by Andrew. Also pictured are judge Mrs Zena Thorn-Andrews and Neil Thompson Pedigree’s National Breeder Services Manager
Photo by William Moores
Runner up the Veterans’ Stakes final was the Saluki Ch Baghdad Foreign Affair at Lokhandar owned by Ms A Ham & Mr K Hadfield. Also pictured are judge Mrs Zena Thorn-Andrews and Neil Thompson Pedigree’s National Breeder Services Manager
Photo by William Moores
Runner up in the Junior Handler of the Year Competition was Heather Rose who handled at GSHP. Also pictured are judge John Thirlwell and Neil Thompson Pedigree’s National Breeder Services Manager
Photo by William Moores
Overall winner in the Junior Handler of the Year Competition was 16 year old Emma McLaughlin who handled a Papillon. Also pictured are judge John Thirlwell and Neil Thompson Pedigree’s National Breeder Services Manager
IT WAS a great honour to be invited to judge the Champions at the Pedigree Stakes Finals, which has to be the social event of the year for dog people.
The 21 finalists were of the highest quality and I shortlisted the following eight for further assessment: the Border Terrier, Ch Brumberhill Betwixt; the Weimaraner, Ch Easdale Ridge; the Afghan, Ch, Aus NZ Grand Ch Rainbow Aladin of Jhanzi; the Miniature Poodle, Ch Minarets Secret Assignment; the Great Dane, Ch Myhalston Mr Malachi; the Giant Schnauzer, Ch Jafrak Philippe Oliver; the Akita, Ch Redwitch Heaven Can Wait and the Griffon Ch Donzeata Royal Tapestry.
All put in great performances both standing and on the move, so I was splitting hairs in the end.
The winner was the very elegant Miniature Poodle, one I have placed at the top before and whenever I have seen him he never seems to have a bad day. Full of quality and breed type, first class body shape and in lovely coat and condition. Presented, as always, in first class order, moves as one with his very talented handler.
In second place was the Giant Schnauzer, so powerful in bone and body and with first class construction, his movement was so balanced. He was in lovely coat and body condition, keeps his first class shape on the move.
Third was the Griffon, lovely head and expression, nice body shape and a short back. She stands true front and rear and never put a foot wrong on the move, makes the most of standing and showing.
Fourth went to the Akita, very powerful with first class construction and shape. Good bone both front and rear, well developed forechest and body and in very good coat. Handled and presented in top order, he looks a picture both standing and moving.
Fifth was the Afghan, shown and presented in lovely order. Nice head proudly carried, first class body shape, in lovely coat and condition. He is so smooth and easy on the move.
I thank all concerned for a lovely weekend and for their hospitality.
WHAT A galaxy of talent awaited. I can honestly say I was spoilt for choice, and I know there were dogs in the ring that I have given top honours to over the past years (and some were unplaced). I just went on condition and performance on the day.
The popular winner, who gave a rip-roaring performance the whole time he was in the ring was the Norfolk, Ch Am Ch Jaeva Dutch Gold. It’s hard to believe he is a veteran; his coat and muscular condition was spot on, movement precise and free flowing. He just looked the part on the day.
I was delighted to endorse the runner-up, another beauty, which was the Saluki, Ch Baghdad Foreign Affair at Lokhand. Hard and fit with a flowing side gait. Salukis can sometimes get even better with age and he certainly is not over the hill yet.
Third was one of my favourite Pulis, Ch Rockisland Pan Dancer. My BOB a few years back at Crufts in a star studded entry. He has lost none of his type and quality with age, and was immaculate to go over and has such a powerful rear.
In fourth place was one I have never judged before, the Standard Poodle, Ch Penling by Design at Namkin. Just showing off in the ring and being a typical Poodle. Enjoying the attention and moving so well. A real beauty and what a coat!
Fifth was the Pembroke Corgi, Ch Penliath Shooting Star, who has been ‘up and down’ with me in the past. I thought her figure good for her age on the day. Still very sound moving and giving her full attention to her owner.
A great bunch of dogs, from which I also pulled out the Rottweiler, Ch NZ Grand Ch Aus Ch Rolex Rumour Has It by Fantasa; the Border Collie, Sh Ch Caristan Moet Chandon and the Weimaraner, Sh Ch Gunalt First Class for Mianja. All three of these were not going quite so well in the final run off, which made my task a little easier.
Thanks to Pedigree and all the team who looked after me so well. A lovely afternoon.
Junior Handler of the Year
I WOULD like to thank Neil Thompson of Pedigree, his team and all those responsible for the organisation of these finals, firstly for the pleasure of judging and the hospitality given throughout this well organised event, I hope everybody enjoyed the day as much as I did.
The quality of the 14 finalists was extremely high and I would likt to compliment each of them on their abilities. They all handled their charges with the expertise that many older handlers could do well to take note of. Their quality being so similar it was down to minor points, in some cases possibly caused by nerves or un-cooperative dogs.
My six finalists all handled their original dogs expertly, showing me each breed as it should be presented, both in stance and gaited. Therefore, my final decision was decided upon once they took over another breed, with a different handling requirement.
1st was Emma McLaughlin showing a Papillon. She presented him in a calm and unexaggerated fashion, he showed alertness towards Emma and responded to her requests with a willingness gained by the rapport between dog and handler. Her second breed was a Standard Poodle, where she showed her understanding of the different requirements and quickly adapted her handling, moving him steadily at the right speed and showing his gait and character, yet in complete control. She then sympathetically stacked him in the breed fashion to accentuate his qualities.
2nd place went to Heather Rose showing a GWHP. Heather also handled both her charges extremely well, and like Emma she showed the dog in a fashion so that any judge would notice the dog rather that the handler. Heather moved the dogs at the correct pace and quickly and positively stacked them when required. The deciding factor between these two first class handlers was that after the GWHP her second dog, a Westie, did not stretch Heather’s handling capabilities, had she been given a free standing dog this may have made the decision even harder.
3rd was Tieryn Clark, one of the younger handlers and a sure professional of the future. Tieryn showed a Cesky with the calmness of the older girls, then, when given a Weimaraner full of enthusiasm, controlled the bitch and corrected her calmly whenever required
4th, Hannah Hatfield, her ability to change her handling style was positive and gentle, showing a rather fidgety Dobermann and then a Beagle with style and confidence.
5th was Lucy Hankey, another calm handler who coped admirably with her own Beagle, correct her over enthusiastic pace when required. She then coped well with the larger dog, a GSHP, adapting her style of handling to suit the breed.
6th place went to Karra Lawson showing a Lhasa first, which she presented with precision and style, then when given a Beardie she coped well, stacking the dog well. However, she didn’t alter her style when moving the dog, which affected the dog’s movement.