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Wednesday, 20 March 2024

Crufts 2024

Featured Written by Our Dogs
Best in Show at Crufts 2024 judged by Ann Ingram was the Pastoral Group winner, Australian Shepherd, Ch Brighttouch Drift The Line Through Dialynne (Imp Rus) owned by Melanie Raymond, John Shaw & Kerry Kirtley and handled by Melanie. Reserve Best in Show was the Jack Russell Terrier, Multi Ch Original Master’s Voice Lovesong Monamour owned by Kao Miichi and handled by her husband Hiroshi Tsuyuki. L-R: Nick Foster General Manager Royal Canin UK and Ireland, Tom Mather Crufts Chairman, Tony Allcock Royal Kennel Club Chairman, Melanie Raymond, John Shaw, Ann Ingram Best in Show Judge, Graham Hill and Hiroshi Tsuyuki.	Best in Show at Crufts 2024 judged by Ann Ingram was the Pastoral Group winner, Australian Shepherd, Ch Brighttouch Drift The Line Through Dialynne (Imp Rus) owned by Melanie Raymond, John Shaw & Kerry Kirtley and handled by Melanie. Reserve Best in Show was the Jack Russell Terrier, Multi Ch Original Master’s Voice Lovesong Monamour owned by Kao Miichi and handled by her husband Hiroshi Tsuyuki. L-R: Nick Foster General Manager Royal Canin UK and Ireland, Tom Mather Crufts Chairman, Tony Allcock Royal Kennel Club Chairman, Melanie Raymond, John Shaw, Ann Ingram Best in Show Judge, Graham Hill and Hiroshi Tsuyuki. Alan Seymour

Well, it’s been and gone and done for another year...but what a Crufts show we have just had at the NEC in Birmingham! It was a case of ‘local girl does good’ as Melanie Raymond took top spot with the popular Australian Shepherd dog ‘Viking’ rounding off a spectacular few months when he was crowned UK top dog at the end of last year, winner of the Eukanuba Champion Stakes in February 2024 and now Best in Show at Crufts 2024. 

Reserve best in show under popular Irish judge Ann Ingram (first time ever for an Irish judge to do BIS at Crufts) and also first time with tickets was the Jack Russell ‘Zen’ who came all the way from Japan to compete.


Ann Ingram, the BIS judge, who was also celebrating her birthday last Sunday, was actually due to take up this appointment 3 years ago but a certain Covid got in the way! 

So, this night was a long time coming! 

For an emotional Melanie Raymond, like most Crufts BIS winners, it was a dream come true. Melanie who lives less than 10 minutes away from the NEC, said, “Nothing prepares you for winning the best show in the world, it has been a dream of mine since I was small and never thought it would come true. 

I want to thank everyone who has supported us along the way; my family, my husband who holds everything together, my co-owners John Shaw and Kerry Kirtley for believing in us and all our friends for the support even when I’m stressed out and demanding. To Larisa for sending me such a wonderful boy. 

Thank you to all three judges Zena Thorn-Andrews in the breed, Barrie Croft for the group and of course Ann Ingram for making this lifelong dream come true and a memory that will never be topped. Congratulations to all the other finalists, some of my closest friends which made the experience even more special.

But the biggest thank you goes Viking for been the most amazing partner, I love you so much!” 

Co-owner John Shaw was at the show, ringside and told me, “As a dog owner who has been involved with owning and campaigning dogs in 3 continents for decades, the highest accolade is winning best in show at Crufts. Winning the same award for the second time is beyond my wildest expectations and imagination. The feeling is indescribable.” John won BIS with a Tibetan Terrier back in 2007. John also had success this year with Pekes with Winnie Mee taking Best of Breed. 

And the third part of the team, co-owner Kerry Kirtley in the USA added, “When I first saw Viking young photos, I knew he had so much to offer. He has not disappointed any of us. Team Viking has worked hard and bestowed their magic everywhere they go. They have done the Australian Shepherd breed proud. To paraphrase an overused saying “ We are over the moon” doesn’t describe how I feel. My feet haven’t touched the ground yet and I am humbled to be part of this incredible journey.”

It was an emotional moment for Mel being interviewed by Clare Balding for the TV and recalling her famous ‘Gran’ Marion Spavin, also with Mum Dianna watching ringside, a real dog show family, a dynasty.

Melanie of course lives ‘just around the corner’ about 5 minutes away by car! What a contrast then to the reserve BIS that came all the way from Japan to compete in the breed with tickets for the first time at Crufts. What a way to end the day for owner Kao Miichi and partner Hiroshi Tsuyuki who handled the ever so popular Zen who also captured the hearts of the packed arena on Sunday night. Original Master’s Voice Lovesong Monamour was bred by Cathy Veyssiere. 

An equally excited Kao melted hearts on Sunday night with her reaction to the win. They got home late Tuesday night and Kao told me, “We have been in a dream. It was not just because of the win at Crufts but the very first C.C ticket has been issued to the Jack Russell terrier. This was what Judy Averis and I had talked about when we drank wine together a long time ago. So, it was really a dream come true moment for me and Hiroshi. Zen is 9 years old, lives in my bedroom, I love him every day. We had enjoyed all the moment of this long adventure as if it was our family trip. Thank you to the Kennel Club, Thank you to the Crufts, the most amazing pure breed dog event in the world.”



Most pundits and ring side commentators agreed that Ann had been presented with a super line up for Sunday night with UK and International winners sharing the spoils. For Kerry Rushby who has been a loyal and hard-working staff member at OUR DOGS newspaper for a number of years, it was an emotional moment for her and Lee Studholme the co-owner and handler when Neville the Leonberger took the group

Kerry said, “Winning the working group at Crufts is a dream come true. I never thought that twenty years ago at Crufts in 2004, when I won my first Best of Breed, aged 18, that years later we would be making breed history and winning the Working group at Crufts.

Neville, was imported from Canada to improve our bloodlines. Lee’s expert handling and presentation of Neville is phenomenal and the bond they have together when showing is unbreakable. We are so grateful to all the friends and fellow breed people who have congratulated us and supported us on this incredible moment at Crufts 2024. We must also thank our breed judge Jeff Horswell and group judge Paul Harding for sending Neville through. A delight to see a sparkle in Ann Ingram’s eye when she enjoyed judging all the dogs in the final at Crufts. A memory to last a lifetime for both Lee and I. We are still on cloud nine, and plan to be for some time.”

Best wishes to Kerry whose mother guided Kerry in the world of dogs and in particular Leonbergers but had passed away a short time ago, and Kerry is also seven months pregnant and expecting her first baby. 



The BIS Judge is a well-known international all-rounder, and Ann said about the show, 

“Simply the best pretty much sums up how it felt to be centre stage Best in Show at Crufts! Few would disagree that it is the greatest dog show in the world, celebrating the very best of dogs, at all levels of canine activities. 

My greatest appreciation to all the committee and volunteers who work so hard to run the show like a well-oiled machine, making it an incredible success. 

What an enormous honour to be the first ever Irish judge to have the privilege of judging Best in Show. 

I cannot thank my fellow countrymen enough for their incredible support and also the many well-wishers all over the world, you made me feel like a superstar! 

My heartfelt thanks to the Crufts committee for inviting me, I could hardly believe it when I received the original invitation, and although, thanks to Covid, it was 6 years before I would actually take centre stage, I can certainly say it was well worth waiting for! 

I knew I was going to be spoilt for choice, and I would like to thank every group judge for the top-quality dogs which they sent through. I felt quite emotional as I watched each dog enter the ring to perform like a super star, handled and presented to their very best, I knew my choices were not going to be easy to make, super well done to you all”

The other five group winners for Ann to assess were:

The Papillon who won the Toy Group. Raffa (Ch Fashion First High Priority), aged two, handled and owned by Asta Maria from Sweden. Raffa was sent through from the breed-by-breed specialist Judge Glenn Robb, who himself has broken records with the breed and was delighted to find this smart, Icelandic bred 2 year old to send through to group competition, where he caught the eye of Dr Andreas Schemel to take the top spot.

Ch Forget-Me-Not V Tum-Tum’s Vriendje, a Basset Griffon Vendeen (Grand) from Netherlands, and his co-owner and handler Anouk Huikeshoven who won the Hound Group. ‘Getme’ is a familiar dog to UK exhibitors, having previously achieved G4 in 2022 and G2 last year at Crufts, and also BIS at WKC in 2022, the first of his breed to do so. His sire Ch Frosty Snowman was a Crufts Group winner in 2017. He is bred by Anouks’ sister Gwen.

Neville (Ch Corleone Navigator at Kalizmar), aged three, co-owned by Lee Studholme and Kerry Rushby, the Leonberger won the working group, as mentioned previously. Neville was 3rd Top Working Dog last year and has made a historic start to 2024, taking the breed’s first RBIS All Breeds at Manchester in January and now the first Crufts Group win.

Elton the French Bulldog (Ch Chelmbull Rocket Man WW), aged three, handled by Abbie Cund and co-owned with Dean Cund, Alex Harrop and Linda Harrop, won the Utility Group. Elton has been a force to be reckoned with over the past two years, taking his first All-Breed BIS whilst still a puppy, he was Runner-up Top Utility in 2022 behind last years’ Crufts Group winning Standard Poodle, Jake, and took the top spot himself this year, with multiple BIS & RBIS awards in 2023.

The Gundog group winner was the Weimaraner, Sh Ch Gunalt Hendricks, (owned by David Alcorn & Gavin Ingram). Hendricks is another of the final 7 who topped his Group in the Annual standings for 2023, taking the title for a second consecutive year. He is the only Weimaraner with two All-Breed BIS and 3 RBIS to his name, and this Group win at Crufts was his 13th Group to date. 



This year Crufts welcomed well over 24,000 dogs at the NEC Birmingham, the venue for the show for the last 30 years. The entry was slightly up on last year, with 19,252 dogs entered into the breed, agility and obedience championship competitions and included more overseas dogs entered than ever before, which accounted for the increase with the UK entry slightly down. 

The show continues to maintain its international flavour and this year attracted 3,766 dogs – with the Netherlands leading the way with 382 dogs, just ahead of Germany (375), France (371) and Italy (330). Other countries to attract entries of 150 dogs or more were Ireland (290), Poland (263), Belgium (242), Spain (193), Czech Republic (188) and Sweden (179).

For the first time at Crufts, the Kooikerhondje, Jack Russell Terrier and Lagotto Romagnolo had Challenge Certificate status. 42 Kooikerhondjes and 123 Jack Russell Terriers were entered for the 2024 show, while last year’s Best in Show breed, the Lagotto Romagnolo, attracted an entry of 91 dogs. What a great day for the Jack Russell’s as their Best of Breed went on to win reserve best in show of course.

Elsewhere, the Golden Retriever had the largest entry for an individual breed from the whole show, with 538 dogs. This was just ahead of the Labrador Retriever (519) which held that distinction at Crufts last year.



A 14-year-old junior handler with Nando (Arcticskies Fernando Avec Kessem JW) a Siberian Husky won the International Junior Handling final at Crufts. On the second day of the show, judge Rony Doedijns from the Netherlands awarded first place to Zofia Raboj from Poland. 

Runner-up was Cecilia de Bella, from Italy, handling a Spanish Water Dog, and third place was Freyja Gudmundsdottir, representing Iceland, handling a Tibetan Spaniel.

Thiry six junior handlers from all around the world aged between 11 and 19 years old took part in the prestigious final, which showcased their handling skills and breed expertise with a dog they only met that morning.

Zofia said: “I still can’t believe it; I really didn’t expect it. It’s the best feeling in the world to win this competition. I think Nando and I built a good relationship in the short time we had together. I showed what I could do and then just had fun with him. It’s a dream come true!”



To sum up from an exhibitor’s point of view, here are the words of someone who didn’t win best in show or group, but gave an excellent summary when saying, 

“Love it, hate it, it doesnt matter which way you look at it, Crufts is the greatest dog show on earth. Many people might moan about it for whatever reason, but every year we are thrilled if we qualify. 

The build up to Crufts is like no other show and from the moment you walk in that feeling of excitement takes over. 

The green carpet awaits, the thrill of being there, all part of what we who love it feel every single year. If you win your class, you’re elated, but even a place should be celebrated at this prestigious event. 

Yes, it’s a long and tiring day and the TV coverage isn’t what we as exhibitors might want with very little breed judging and most of us would love to see more, but on the whole we look back with fondness on the good times spent with friends from home and abroad and in some cases making new friends. 

I suppose it’s what you make it, but at the end of it all it’s a showcase for our pedigree dogs to shine and to be a part of it is magic! Roll on Crufts 2025!”

Couldn’t have put it better myself! 



At the after show gathering, Chairman Tom Mather announced the gate figure as just over 159,400 and also thanked all staff and volunteers on another successful Crufts. 

In one article it is almost impossible to describe the myriad of events that go to make up the world’s greatest dog show...which has just claimed that title yet again at Crufts 2024! 

Read 169 times Last modified on Wednesday, 17 April 2024
More in this category: « Crufts 2020

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