The Sydney Royal show, held over 10 days at Easter each year, is one of the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world – and that’s not even talking about the dogs. The “Royal” shows in Australia are so called because they are hosted by the Royal Agricultural Society, which means they offer a fantastic smorgasbord of everything that country life can offer. And when it’s held in a major world metropolis like Sydney, this means that city folks can’t help but get a taste of what living in the country can be like.

Best in Show at the Sydney Royal show under judge Barbara Müller of Switzerland was the American-bred Old English Sheepdog Supr. Ch. To-Jo’s If I Could Beam Back Time.
Photo courtesy of ffiona Erskine/Ffire Photography

The dog section consisted of some 4,000 dogs, with 3,433 entries in the conformation classes, including sweepstakes. (That’s almost exactly the same number as when I last visited two years ago, an indication that Australia may not suffer the big drop in entries that some AKC shows have experienced.) All these dogs were judged over 10 days by just three judges, who had from 80 to 150 dogs each per day. This must be a test of anyone’s stamina, although all judges got one and a half days off during the Royals.

Switzerland’s Barbara Müller, Peggy Beisel McIlwaine of the U.S. and Chilean Ramon Podesta judged the entire entry of 3,433 at this year’s show. They are pictured, left to right, with show chair Wayne Burton (in hat). Photo courtesy of Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine.

Peggy Beisel McIlwaine writes: “I had a wonderful time. Wayne Burton, our show chair, who is an RAS council member and chair of the domestic animal portion of the Royal Easter show, was wonderful, as was Deborah Harbin, the domestic animal event coordinator. We had great stewards and photographers. I’m grateful that my co-judges Ramon Podesta from Chile, Barbara Müller from Switzerland and I got along so well. We really had a great time together.

“On Friday, which was Good Friday, I understand they had 141,000 spectators. I know it was so crowded that day and on the weekends that they discontinued the use of golf carts to drive the VIPs around. It was such an honor to have been a part of this magnificent show.

Best in Show judge Barbara Müller and handler Daniel Aitchison share a moment following the victory of Old English Sheepdog Supr. Ch. To-Jo’s If I Could Beam Back Time at Sydney Royal. Photo courtesy of ffiona Erskine/Ffire Photography

“On Monday, April 1, were the Groups and Best in Show, what they call General Specials day, which ran from 9 a.m. to well into the late afternoon. Besides the Gundog and Terrier Groups, I judged Best Breeder’s Team. Ramon judged Best Puppy in Show, and Barbara judged Best in Show. The show was sponsored by Purina, and after Best in Show they provided a wonderful spread of hors d’oeuvres and beverages and allowed the exhibitors an opportunity to talk to us.”

Winner of the Breeder’s Team competition was a group from the Babanga Lhasa Apsos, and Best Puppy was the Basenji, Zanzipow Poker Face Earnest. BIS was won by an Old English Sheepdog bitch originally from the U.S., Ch. To-Jo’s If I Could Beam Back Time, and Runner-Up BIS was the Saluki Ch. Pazada Grand Royale.

Best in Show Old English Sheepdog Ch. To-Jo’s If I Could Beam Back Time, ‘Cher,’ relaxes after her victory with Daniel and Maree Aitchison. Photo courtesy of ffiona Erskine/Ffire Photography

The Old English Sheepdog bitch, known as ‘Cher,’ is 4 years old and was bred in the U.S. by S. Kirsch, B. Pinkston and Joy Kelley from two home-bred To-Jo champions. Cher is owned by Maree Aitchison and Joy Kelley, and has been handled by Daniel Aitchison to many BIS wins and a Number 1 all breeds spot in her island home state of Tasmania.

Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine also answered a number of specific questions I asked her:

  • Best memory of the show, other than the dogs: “Meeting new friends – and discovering all the different breeds of cattle. I loved watching Best Bull and Best Heifer in Show. So many breeds!”
  • Favorite dog seen/judged: “Clearly the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, perhaps the best one I’ve ever seen. Also, a terrific French Bulldog puppy.”
  • Breeds that were particularly good/bad: “Particularly bad, Standard Manchester Terriers. Good: Labrador Retrievers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, French Bulldogs.”
  • Comparing Sydney Royal to an AKC all-breed show: “Not sure I can compare them, so different in many ways, but similar in others.”
  • Advice for American judges asked to judge in Australia: “Take some sleeping aid for the long flight. Arrive at least a full day ahead of the day you begin to judge. Thank heavens for Tylenol PM!”

The runner-up for Best in Show, Saluki Ch. Pazada Grand Royale, takes a victory lap. Photo courtesy of ffiona Erskine/Ffire Photography

Group Winners and Placements
“Ch.” below mostly means Australian champion. There are now two additional, higher champion titles: grand champion, similar but not identical to AKC’s grand champion title, and supreme champion, which is even more difficult to achieve.

The information about the background of the winners comes mostly courtesy of the Australian DogzOnline website. All winners’ photos below are courtesy of ffiona Erskine of Ffire Photography.


Toy Group
1st: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Ch. Melloway Adrenaline Rush, owned by Egan and Weekes
2nd: Papillon Eng. Aust. Ch. Rozamie Moulin Rouge (imp. U.K.), owned by Rickards
3rd: Pekingese Supr. Ch. Frawai Reflections, owned by Patten and Wickens
4th: Pomeranian Fairytails Rock N In The USA, owned by Weinert

The Cavalier King Charles is born and bred in Australia, but sired by English import Ch. Cobbets Cockney Rebel. The Papillon and Pekingese are both well-known top winners, the Pap a past Number 1 in the breed in England, the Peke a multi BIS winner. The Pomeranian, although bred in Australia, is sired by U.S. import GCh. Kalo’s Rock N To The Moon.


Terrier Group
1st: Dandie Dinmont Terrier Ch. Jollygaze Harvey Wallbanger, owned by Greenway and Huebner
2nd: American Staffordshire Terrier Ch. Dinamyte Big Bang, owned by McKay
3rd: Staffordshire Bull Terrier Ch. Neworder Flower Drum, owned by Marsh
4th: Bedlington Terrier Supr. Ch. Piperdene Poleposition, owned by Hill and Bates

The winning Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a grandson of ‘Harry, the famous Ch. Hobergays Fineus Fogg, who came over from Australia and was shown by Bill McFadden to Number 1 All Breeds in the U.S. in 2006. The Am Staff is an SBIS winner, but apparently of Australian breeding for several generations. The Staffordshire Bull is reportedly fairly new to Royal top awards, but the Bedlington has won several Royal Show Groups before this one.


Gundog Group
1st: Labrador Retriever Supr. Ch. Driftway Special Envoy, owned by Spagnolo
2nd: Irish Setter Ch. Martinridge Flirtation, owned by Browne and Martin
3rd: English Cocker Spaniel Aust. and Am. Ch. Dawnglow It Shouldn’t Be Legal, owned by Dennis
4th: German Shorthaired Pointer Moruada California County, owned by Moruada Kennels

The winning Lab is almost 8 years old and was Australia’s top Gundog in both 2008 and 2009, with several previous Royal Show Group wins to his credit. The Irish Setter bitch is sired by U.S. import Devlin Marco Polo at Eireannmada, the English Cocker is a direct U.S. import by Ch. Robraine Tenduklar x Ch. Dawnglow Legally Blonde, and the very young Geman Shorthair, not a year old yet, is of nearly all American Minado breeding a couple of generations back in his pedigree.


Hound Group
1st: Saluki Ch. Pazada Grand Royale, owned by Farrell, Jones and Russell
2nd: Whippet Supr. Ch. Taejaan Bird On A Wire, owned by Turay and Rule-Steele
3rd: Basenji Zanzipow Poker Face Earnest, owned by Powers
4th: Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Aust. and NZ Gr. Ch. Rokeena Garçon Reveur, owned by Wallis, Hay and Marshall

The Saluki, just over 2 years old, is sired by Ch. Elarabie Osasis Jericho out of Ch. Pazada Astra Viva, whose parents both come from the internationally famous Baghdad kennel. The famous Whippet is nearly 6 years old, was BIS at Sydney Royal in 2010 and is of partial American breeding from Countrywind and Chelsea. The young Basenji was also Best Puppy in Show, while the PBGV has a very international pedigree: three of the grandparents are AKC champions and the fourth is a U.S. export to Australia.


Working Group
1st: Old English Sheepdog Supr. Ch. To-Jo’s If I Could Beam Back Time, owned by Aitchison and Kelley
2nd: Australian Shepherd Supr. Ch. Blueamble Stelaluna, owned by Lambertson and Royston
3rd: Puli Supr. Ch. Rustufarion Crazy Talk, owned by Valore, Barker and Hughes
4th: White Swiss Shepherd Dog Ch. Vallgårdens Ghostly Gladiator, owned by Sneddon and Nimmo

The Group 2nd Australian Shepherd is born and bred in Australia from two Dykinta champions, but all four grandparents are AKC champions and/or U.S. exports. The 6-year old Puli is sired by Am. Ch. Prydain Trademark out of a daughter of U.S. export Ch. Belrob’s Piece of the Rock. The White Swiss Shepherd isn’t seen at AKC shows, and even in Australia it’s probably a first for the breed to place in a Royal show Group.


Utility Group
1st: Dogue de Bordeaux Ch. Rozeldogue Modauam, owned by O’Hara
2nd: Akita Ch. Beaufleets Kansas Kelly at Redwitch, owned by Buckley and Parker
3rd: Bernese Mountain Dog Ch. Zanzebern Pass The Prize, owned by Eslick and Lennon
4th: Alaskan Malamute Ch. Kataku For Yr Eyes Only, owned by Davis, French and Kataku Kennels

The British-born Dogue de Bordeaux has done well in all-breed competition before, but, as far as is known, no other dog of this breed has won a Royal show Group before. The Akita is a multiple BIS winner, also of British breeding and descending from the Redwitch line, well-known in the U.S. The Bernese Mountain Dog and the Malamute are both top winners as well; the former has Australian-bred parents, while the latter is sired by U.S. export Ch. Snoklassic N Nanuke’s The Real Thing out of a daughter of another export, Ch. Williwaws River Dance.


Non-Sporting Group
1st: Lhasa Apso Supr. Ch. Chethang Nathaniel, owned by York, Camac and Longmire
2nd: Standard Poodle Picardy Stand Your Ground, owned by Boyd
3rd: Great Dane Supr. Ch. Darkat Agent Provocateur, owned by Coyle’s Great Danes
4th: British Bulldog Ch. Bratrice Natural Justice, owned by Edmunds

The winning Lhasa Apso, imported from the U.K., is a multiple BIS winner, co-owned by the Babanga kennel that also won the Breeder’s Team competition. The Standard Poodle is a new name, but the Picardy kennel is internationally known for a long line of top winners, often bred from U.S. Lake Cove lines. The Great Dane has been the breed’s top winner for the past couple of years and is of Australian, New Zealand, American and Swedish breeding. The Bulldog, again, comes from an Australian kennel that has produced numerous Royal winners in the past.


Best Puppy in Group Winners
Toy – Italian Greyhound Clovelly Harry Highpants, owned by Clovelly Kennels

Terrier – Cairn Terrier Joymont Top of the Town, owned by Scotton

Gundog – German Shorthaired Pointer Moruada California County, owned by Moruada Kennels

Hound and Best Puppy in Show – Basenji Zanzipow Poker Face Earnest, owned by Powers

Working – Shetland Sheepdog Montage Escapade, owned by Kataku Kennels

Utility – Siberian Husky Ch. Aeukanmanuva Music Queen, owned by Becconsall and Yates

Non Sporting – Toy Poodle Montaires Dream Catcher, owned by Hirae


Breeders Team Winners
Toy – Cutler’s Merimalt Maltese

Terrier – Mills’ Clayco Smooth Fox Terriers

Gundog – Lauder’s Azucroft English Springer Spaniels

Hound – Monckton’s Feralas Norwegian Elkhounds

Working – Valore’s Rustufarion Pulik

Utility – Buckley’s Daykeyne Akitas

Non-Sporting and Best Breeders Team – York’s Babanga Lhasa Apsos

Best Junior Handler
Rachael Shaw

Thank you to Toni Comerford for assistance with results and information for this article.