One event that I really enjoyed watching at Crufts 2013 – in addition to a thorough enjoyment of watching all of the Group judging – was the final Saturday of the Kennel Club Breeders’ Competition.
Michael Coad, partner to this year’s Best in Show judge Geoff Corish, judged the final of the Breeders’ Competition, which included about 40 teams of four dogs, each from one kennel or breeder. The competition was actually pre-judged, as no doubt it took quite some time to get through the many dogs that were entered, and Michael only made his final selections in the big ring before Group judging began.
I wish we still had something like this in the U.S., but we haven’t since the days of the Kennel Review competitions back at Cobo Hall in Detroit in the 1990s. Watching the contenders enter the ring was really quite spectacular. The Tweedsmuir Clumber Spaniels from a kennel that has bred noteworthy specimens since 1981; two amazing teams of Bedlington Terriers, in which each dog looked like a perfect silhouette of the other; four cookie-cutter Finnish Lapphunds bred at the Elbereth kennel; the fabulous four orange balls representing Lireva Pomeranians; and the gorgeous foursome brought by Margaret Anderson from her Zentarr Lhasa Apsos were just a few of the gorgeous quartets. Margaret Anderson, of course, won Best in Show last year at Crufts with one of the Zentarr Lhasas, ‘Elizabeth,’ and the four in this final were just stunning together. I’m hoping we can get all of the results from this competition for you and bring you photos in the next few days as well, but I will tell you that the ultimate winners this year were the Meadowpark Bernese Mountain Dogs.
After a terrific Gundog demonstration, the Group entered the big ring in the arena at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham. Zena Thorn-Andrews was the judge today, a woman who, with her late husband Terry, was part of one of the most popular judging couples in Britain and around the world. As a breeder, she is well-known for her Drakesleat Wire Dachshunds and Irish Wolfhounds. Zena judged Best in Show at Crufts in 2007, when America’s own Larry Cornelius handled Tibetan Terrier Eng. Am. Ch. Araki Fabulous Willy to the win.
The Gundog Group includes all of the breeds you would expect – Pointers, Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels – along with a half-dozen or so not yet recognized by AKC. Those include the Bracco Italiano, German Longhaired Pointer, Wirehaired Vizsla, Kooikerhondje, Large Munsterlander and Spanish Water Dog. In England, of course, the English Cocker is called just “Cocker Spaniel,” and American Cockers are not divided into color varieties. There were 31 dogs in Mrs. Thorn-Andrews’ ring, again a really beautiful collection of dogs. It’s different for us to see many of these breeds with tails, but hopefully not difficult to see past those wagging appendages to the quality attached.
Many Gundog breeds drew huge entries, some of them the largest of the show. There were 601 Goldens, 542 Labs, 435 Irish Setters, 418 Flat Coat Retrievers, 395 English Cockers, 299 Pointers, 229 English Setters and 217 Welsh Springer Spaniels entered. Eleven other Gundog breeds drew entries of 100 or more. Wow!
Our judge made a cut of 10, starting from the back of the line. First was the Weimaraner, one of several breeds we’re accustomed to seeing docked. Eng. Ch. Gunalt De Ice at Stridview was bred in England by Stephen and Patsy Hollings, is owned by Karen Whitehead and handled by Jackie Ward. ‘Ice’ is of almost entirely U.K. Gunalt breeding, until you get to the fourth generation of his pedigree, when we find Ch. Nani’s Class Clown at Tasairg, from Chris and Ted Grisell’s very successful American kennel. Gunalt is the top Weimaraner kennel of all time in the U.K.
Next was Spanish Water Dog, Swedish and Spanish Ch. Curioso de la Ribera del Genil Valentisimo, imported, as you may have guessed, from Spain. Owned by Nigel and Jenny Egginton, and handled by Nigel, ‘Paco’ was bred by Salvi Cabrerra. This handsome dog is of Spanish, Portuguese and Mexican breeding, and I found a lovely photo when he was fourth in the Group at Windsor Championship show back in 2011 under Hans Lehtinen, after winning the breed under Frank Kane. Paco works in the field in addition to being a show dog, and won the breed here also in 2011 and 2012, not as easy as it may sound, since this year there were 111 entered!
Last year’s Group winner, Irish Water Spaniel Eng. Am. Ch. Whistlestop’s Elements of Magic, is American bred. If you read my “Fancy That” column often, last year you know that I mentioned on numerous occasions the “Magnificent Three” in this breed in the U.S., the three litter sisters that occupied the Number 1, 2 and 3 spots in the rankings, GCh. Whistlestop’s Riley On Fire, GCh. Whistlestop’s Fire and Ice, and GCh. Whistlestop’s Wind On the Water. How cool it is for breeders Colleen McDaniel and Stacy Duncan to have bred one litter with three multiple Group winners, two of which are multiple Best in Show winners and one, Fire and Ice, who won the National Specialty last year… and add in a litter brother that won the Group at Crufts! Yes, he’s their brother. He was the top Gundog in the U.K. in 2011 as well, and the first IWS to win more than one Best in Show in the U.K. He is owner-handled by his British “mum” Judith Carruthers and co-owned by breeder Colleen. (A fourth litter sister recently returned to the U.S. from Scandinavia and proceeded to go Best of Breed at Westminster. —Editor)From Italy, Labrador Retriever It. Ch. Loch Mor Romeo made the cut. ‘Romeo’ is bred, owned and handled by Franco Barberi and among other wins in Europe was also BOB at the World Shows in 2011 and 2012, and third in the Group in 2011 in Paris. He is of English (Sandylands and Heatherbourne), Finnish (Follies) and American (Brookhill) breeding, and his sire, Int. Ch. Charm Bluveil Mr. Darcy, was bred by Charlene and Jerome Moser in Iowa and exported to Italy. It’s not the first time Loch Mor Labs have triumphed at Crufts; Loch Mor Welldone won the breed here in 2007 and was fourth in the Group, also breeder/owner-handled by Signor Barberi.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever Eng. Se. Ch. Penrose Jack Tar was bred and owned by Janet Morris of Wales, and is handled by her daughter, Rebecca. Janet got her first dogs to work in the field, and the kennel went on to produce the U.K.’s first five “full champions,” the term for dogs that have both show and field championships, what we call a dual champion in the U.S. A Penrose Chessie was the first of the breed to earn a championship show Group placement, when in 1998 Am. Ch. Penrose Puntgunner Gamescout was Group Third at Bath. Eng. Ch. Penrose Old Money was the U.K.’s first show champion Chessie and BOB at Crufts 2006. Eng. Ch. Penrose Valentine was BOB at Crufts 2007, 2008 and 2009, Eng. Ch. Penrose Fast Buck in 2011. The Penrose Chessies work during the shooting season and go to dog shows after that’s over.Another breed not recognized in America, but popular in Europe, is the Wirehaired Hungarian Vizsla. Lanspar Havvassi won the breed Saturday from an entry of 104. ‘Havvi’ is bred and owned by Terry and Gillian Pearson, and handled by Terry. The Pearsons originally bred Irish Setters, but in 1992 Terry acquired a puppy from the first-ever litter of Wirehaired Vizslas bred in the U.K. Their breeding program continues today with her great-great-great grandchildren. They were founding members of the breed club in the U.K., and also work their dogs in the field.
German Wirehaired Pointer Eng. Ch. Trollangens Runar at Bareve was bred in Sweden by Anette Erlandsson and Matti Palm, and is owned in the U.K. by Barbara Pinkerton and her daughter Sharon. Bareve is another kennel that has produced numerous full champions. Bareve GWPs have won more than 300 CCs in the U.K., and the kennel has made up 50 English champions since 1986. ‘Runar’ won his first CC in England at Crufts, from the Junior class, and earned his championship and first Group win at 20 months of age.The Kavacanne German Shorthaired Pointers made Michael Coad’s shortlist in the KC Breeders’ Competition earlier in the day before BOB winner Eng. Ned. Ch. Kavacanne Toff at the Top represented the breed in the Group. ‘Morgan’ was also BOB at Crufts 2010. Sue and Pete Rose and son and daughter Adam and Heather breed Wirehaired Pointers as well as Shorthairs. It’s a family affair, and Kavacanne won its 50th CC in October 2012 and was the U.K.’s top GSP kennel in both 2010 and 2012.
The Bracco Italiano is another breed not familiar to all Americans, although anyone who saw multi-Ch. Axel del Monte Alago win the Eukanuba World Challenge in California in 2009 won’t likely forget him. This year’s Crufts BOB winner, Netherlands Ch. Valentino di Regione Montagnosa, was bred in Holland by Frans Krijbolder and is owned by C. H. Van Holland, also of the Netherlands.The black American Cocker Spaniel Eng. Ch. Afterglow Pearl’s A Singer made the cut, and she has American connections. ‘Pearl’ is bred and owned by American ex-pat Jason Lynn, bred with his partner Michael Gadsby, and owned and handled by Susan Crummey. Afterglow has, of course, long been a prefix seen in Cocker rings in the U.K. as Michael was successful with the breed for many years before he became known for a variety of other breeds, including PBGVs and Poodles.
The cut made for quite a spectacular lineup. Mrs. Thorn-Andrews selected as her winner the Italian Labrador Retriever, very popular with the crowd since the breed is very popular in the U.K., as it is in the U.S. Second went to the Weimaraner, third to the German Shorthaired Pointer and fourth to the Irish Water Spaniel. These four winners represent pedigrees from all over the world, including England, Italy, the United States, Finland and more.
Tomorrow we will find out who the winners are in the Working and Pastoral Groups, as well as who goes Best in Show.