Photos by Karl Donvil
The Sunday evening festivities for Crufts opened in the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, England, with the fanfare to which those in attendance have become accustomed. There was electricity in the air as spectators and exhibitors looked forward to seeing who would become the Crufts Supreme Champion for 2012.
But the first order of business was for judges to select the last two finalists before the Best in Show competitors entered the ring. Mr. Charles Keith Thornton was the judge for the Hound Group, and selected as the winner the 3-year-old Borzoi, Eng. Ch. Rothesby Sholwood Snow Hawk, handled by owner Sue Carter. ‘Luke’ was bred by his owner and Richard Duckworth.
Second went to Gavin and Sara Robertson’s PBGV, Eng. Ch. Soletrader Peek A Boo, handled by Gavin. ‘Jilly’ was considered the favorite to top the Group, as she was Great Britain’s Top Hound in 2011 and Reserve Best in Show at Crufts last year. She is co-owned by Martin and Wendy Doherty of Canada, and was bred with Gavin and Sara by Paul Sparks.
Third went to the Saluki owned by Steer, Fitzgerald and Johnston, Jorjenjo Mirzam of Fernlark, and fourth to the miniature Smooth Dachshund Eng. Ch. Carpaccio Captain Scarlet JW, owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. Hunt.
In the Terrier Group Americans will have found several familiar faces. The Kerry Blue who was Group First at Westminster just a month ago, Eng. Am. Ch. Perrisblu Kennislain’s Chelsey, was present. ‘Chelsey’ was the Top Terrier and Number 2 among all breeds in England in 2010 and is currently America’s Top Terrier. She is owned by the Ed Yingling family of California with her British owner Phil Davies, and was bred in the U.K. by Brendan and Sonia Laing.
Also in the Group was the Irish Terrier Eng. Am. Ch. Fleet St Fenway Fan, bred in America by R.C. and Shari Carusi and Stan Wojewodski and was handled by R.C. to Number 1 Irish and Number 4 Terrier in the U.S. in 2010. ‘Fynn’ is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Tony Barker and Victor Malzoni Jr.
But it was a “local boy” who topped the Group, and a very young one at that. Judge Paolo Dondina of Italy seemed to have a difficult time selecting among the final four placements, but in the end pointed first to Lesley Crawley’s 15-month-old Norwich Terrier, Ragus Merry Gentleman. The Ragus Norwich Terriers have been well-known in the U.K. for almost a half-century, first bred by Mrs. Marks, followed by her daughter, Mrs. Marjorie Bunting, and now by her daughter, Lesley. Their most recent winner, Eng. Ch. Ragus Rings True, was Top Terrier in the U.K. in 2009 and is the breed’s record holder in the U.K. for having won more challenge certificates than any Norwich in history.
The young Ragus dog is the one in the spotlight now, and the Merry Gentleman is also owned by Mr. M. Oddie. The Kerry Blue was second and the Irish Terrier third, and Mr. Dondina selected for fourth Dandie Dinmont Terrier Cloverwood Royal George, bred and owned by Mrs. J.G. Tinsley, a mustard dog that goes back on his sire’s side to the Glahms Dandies of Mrs. Mike Macbeth in Canada.
And now the seven finalists enter the ring…
It was another international final for the world’s biggest dog show. Three of the finalists were on home turf, including Sunday evening’s two Group winners, the Borzoi and the Norwich, as well as the Utility Group winner, Lhasa Apso Eng. Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth. The four foreign-bred competitors included, from the Gundog Group the American-bred Irish Water Spaniel Eng. Am. Ch. Whistlestop’s Elements of Magic with British owner-handler Mrs. Carruthers; representing the Pastoral Group, the Old English Sheepdog from Hungary, Ch. Bottomshaker My Secret, owned by Mr. Koroknai; the Pomeranian from Sweden, Belliver Unexpected Dream, handled by Mikael Nilsson, representing the Toy Group; and the Working Group winner bred and owned in Slovakia, Newfoundland multi-Ch. King of Helluland Feel the Win, owned by breeders Mr. and Mrs. Krockovci.
Judge Mr. Frank Kane obviously reveled in the task before him, and carefully contemplated the seven finalists before selecting as the 2012 Crufts Best in Show winner the perfectly British Lhasa Apso, Eng. Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth. Breeder/owner-handler Margaret Anderson was naturally thrilled with the win, and was quoted as saying, “Elizabeth is wonderful and she always rises to the occasion. (…) I am sure someone is going to pinch me in a minute and I will wake up and it will all be a dream.”
Reserve Best in Show went to the Newfoundland, ‘Brutus,’ a dog that has won accolades around the world for his thrilled owner.