It began at the 2012 Pup of the Year final, held in February last year, when top spot was awarded to the American Cocker Spaniel Sh Ch Afterglow Dragon Quest, shown by Mike Gadsby. Ricky was also competing, handled on this occasion by Phil Langdon as Jason Lynn was in the US. He too was in the final cut.
During the year the American Cocker Sh Ch Afterglow Pearl’s A Singer, bred by Mike and Jason and owned by Jason with Susan Crummey who handles her, won two BIS awards and ended up top gundog. And during the year the kennel joined the select few to have owned and/or bred a century of UK titleholders, covering no fewer than 18 breeds. And then there was Ricky…
The story of the Afterglow kennel can be found on the DOG WORLD website, from my interview in the 2012 DOG WORLD ANNUAL.
The first breed in which Mike made a mark was the American Cocker. Mike won his first RCC under Frank Kane at Crufts 30 years ago with Afterglow Sultan Of Swing who that year became his first titleholder. He won his first BIS in 1990 with an American and in 1997 Sh Ch Boduf Pistols At Dawn with Afterglow, owned by Mike with Gwen Oake, was Top Dog all breeds as well as taking RBIS at Crufts under Terry Thorn. (Read more about the early development of Afterglow in Part 1 on ‘The Afterglow Saga’)
In 2005 Sh Ch Afterglow Douglas Fashion, owners Mike, Billy Cannell and Rosemary Wilcock, was Top Dog. On several other occasions the kennel has topped the gundog, utility or hound group in the table.
Always enjoying coated breeds, and those with which you can fly rouynd the ring, Mike had long been interested in Standard Poodles. He started with two bitches from Pat Salama’s Torpaz kennel. One of them produced a male, Afterglow Alcatraz, who was killed in a road accident before reaching his full potential but who fortunately had mated a champion bitch which produced group winner Ch Magin Don’t Eat The Daisies with Afterglow. She was mated to Sw/Norw/Dan Ch Torpaz That’ll Be All White, who had returned from Scandinavia where he had sired Crufts BIS winner Ch Tospcore Contradiction.
This resulted in Donny, Ch/Am Ch Afterglow The Big Tease, who initially went to the US where he won Poodle Club of America specialty from the classes, going on to all-breed BIS wins. Then he returned home, by which time Mike had been joined by US-born Jason. He too had a lifetime’s involvement in the world of dogs, working for leading professional handlers who specialised in American Cockers.
Between them they campaigned Donny to Top Dog and many BIS wins, a place in the World Challenge and finally RBIS at Crufts 2009 under Peter Green.
They used him on Ch Kevlain Faith In Your Dreams to produce Ch/Am Ch Afterglow Sugar Daddy, a good winner on both sides of the Atlantic but whose strength has been as a stud dog.
Living in England at the Namkia kennel was a bitch owned and bred by world famous Spanish breeder Carlos Fernandez Renau and partner Lazalo Gonzalez-Anleo. They used Sugar Daddy and from this Del Zarzoso Salvame went to Afterglow and became another BIS winner, plus top utility 2011. One of his BIS awards came at City of Birmingham under Jack Bispham, this year’s Crufts BIS judge.
He is now in the US where he is a multiple BIS winner for owners Sloan Barnett and George Lindemann Sr, handled by Amy Rutherford.
Another Sugar Daddy progeny made up by Mike and Jason was Ch Topcatana Sugar Cube Afterglow, bred by Catherine Cook ex Ch Topcatana Sweet Chariot, whom Mike had awarded a CC and always hoped she would come to one of his stud dogs.
Whatever some may say about half-brother to half-sister matings, even to the extent of wanting them banned, there can be no doubt that when used by people who know what they are doing they can often results in worthwhile results.
In this case Mike and Jason decided to double up on Sugar Daddy by using Salvame on Sugar Cube and the result was Ricky, an Irish champion bitch for June Wall, and a black champion dog in California with well-known professional groomer Ann Martin.
Ricky is co-owned by Jason, who usually handled him, with John and Sandra Stone who have been an integral part of the Afterglow Poodle activities for some years, co-owning two other recent champions too, including Ricky’s dam.
Ricky had a good puppy career during 2012, winning two RCCs under Leticia Tranter and Helen Bakewell, plus the Pup of the Year heat at Leeds under Paul Singleton, before gaining his first CC under Ernie Paterson at Welsh KC and his second at City of Birmingham from Ken Sinclair.
His title came at the Eastern Counties Poodle Club at 14 months under Margaret Austin. In the Pup of the Year final he was in the final six, handled by Philip Langdon as Mike was on the eventual winner and Jason was in the US.
Early in 2013 as a junior dog he was shown for the first time in the States at the Poodle Club of America specialty where he was best of winners from the open class under James Reynolds, with Canadian handler Allison Foley piloting him on this occasion.
His first group came at the National (judge Luis Pinto Teixeira) and he went on to RBIS behind the Wire under Kari Wilberg. Mark Cocozza gave him the group at Blackpool, Rodney Oldham at Windsor and Jeff Horswell at Paignton.
At Bournemouth he won his first BIS under Bill Browne-Cole, breeder of his nearest rival in the Top Dogs table, having won the group under Jeff Luscott. He was RBIS at City of Birmingham (group judge Derek Smith, BIS judge Ronnie Irving), BIS at Richmond (Stuart Mallard and Liz Cartledge), Driffield (Dave Killilea and Robin Searle), Belfast (Steve Hall and Rodney Oldham) and South Wales (Jackie Kitchener and Peter Bailey) and reserve at Midland Counties (judge for both Tom Mather). His last group of the year came at BUBA on Ferelith Somerfield’s final appointment.
This remarkable run during second half of the year sent Ricky rapidly up the rankings in the Top Dog table, hot on the heels of the Wire Fox Terrier Ch Travella Striking Steel. At several of the later shows they were the final two in contention for BIS and reserve.
One of the occasions where they met was the final of the Eukanuba champion stakes competition. Here the judges, Patsy Hollings and Steve Hall, opted for Ricky the Poodle with Oliver the Wire in second place. This entitled Ricky to represent the UK in the World Challenge in Florida – a great honour, but just one problem, this was the same weekend as the LKA. Quite a dilemma, even if one that most exhibitors wouldn’t mind finding themselves in!
His connections opted for the American trip and by the time he was due to leave, further breed club successes had taken him ahead of the Wire. If Oliver were to top LKA, there would have been a tie at the head of the table, something which hadn’t happened in its 40-year history.
For all concerned with both dogs, the tension must have been unbearable, especially when the Wire won best unclassified and then the terrier group at LKA. A BIS win would mean they were equal – but in the event he was Frank Kane’s choice as reserve, so Ricky was number one by two points, making him the fourth Top Dog for the kennel.
Thanks to the social media, it wasn’t long before the news reached Orlando. Perhaps this gave Ricky and his handler Jason Lynn an extra spring in their step when a few hours later they competed in the final of the Challenge, having been chosen as one of the leaders of their section the previous evening by Gerard Jipping of the Netherlands. In any case, a wonderful day was rounded off when he became the first British dog to top the World Challenge, putting up an immaculate performance to be the choice of Argentinian judge Miguel Angel Martinez.
Ricky completed his US title at the shows held on the same weekend as the World Challenge.
He did not compete at the first two shows of 2014 but at Crufts he took his 19th CC, all with BOB, from Albert Wight, before taking the utility group under Ken Sinmclair who had given him his second CC, and then BIS from Jack Bispham who had also much admired his father. His total stands at 13 groups including BUBA, two group 2, four group 3, three RBIS and six all-breeds BIS.
This is the second year running the reigning Top Dog has won Crufts. Before Jilly, three other Top Dogs had won Crufts the next year, and five others did so after a gap of one or more years.
Of the dog himself. Jason says: “Ricky is a joy to live with. Sometimes it seems a winning dog comes with certain quirks or habits that make you work a bit harder for the success in the ring, but that’s not the case with Ricky.
“He’s a gentleman in and out of the ring, and has a sixth sense about knowing when it’s time to relax and when he needs to step it up a notch. He will fall asleep on the table while being groomed, yet come to life as he walks toward the ring and show his heart out. He gets along with everyone, man and canine, and is a lovable clown.
“His show career in the UK has been thrilling but relatively short. Following his win at BUBA, we decided that Crufts would be his final UK show. This surprised some of our friends as Ricky is young and just hitting his prime, but we think that he has more than proven his worth as a show dog in this country. To pursue more wins would just be greedy on our part, and with the nature of the British championship system it would be unfair for other deserving males to be held back.
“Judging by his first couple of litters, we think he has enormous potential as a producer. For now we will concentrate on showing his kids during the next year or so, and hope that a worthy successor emerges.”
At Crufts the RBCC, her second, went to his daughter Dinastii Miss Defiant over Afterglow.
I spoke to Jason on Tuesday when he said their achievement was slowly beginning to sink in.
What had it felt like in the ring? “People asked me if I was nervous. Strangely I wasn’t nervous at all. I simply wanted to savour every minute.”
Ricky’s amazing showmanship at the end of a long lead wowed the crowds and, presumably, the judge. Had this involved a lot of practice beforehand? “Almost none. It’s really a question of letting him do his own thing. Competiting at a number of shows during the Eukanuba trip was great preparation. By the time we got to competing in the World Challenge itself he was letting me stand away from his as he did at Crufts.”
For Mike, watching the two group winners he had bred competing for BIS, an award he had twice come so close to winning himself ads a handler, must have been both unbelievably exciting and slightly bittersweet. In the event he was suffering from a bad back and jumping up and down with joy when Pearl won her group can’t have helped! This injury had limited Ricky’s media appearances since then but it is likely he will feature in the Telegraph this weekend. Needless to say Jason and Mike had received hundred of messages of congratulation.
Although he will not attend any more UK shows, another trip to Poodle Club of America hasn’t been ruled out.