AFTER QUALIFYING in the Eukanuba Champion Stakes at WELKS last April with her homebred Lhasa Apso, Coventry-based Margaret Anderson had dreamed of representing the UK at the Eukanuba World Challenge final in Orlando.
This weekend the dream came true when her six year-old bitch, Ch Zentarr Elizabeth, took on 24 other finalists to be crowned overall winner.
There is nothing the world of dogs and all those that make it tick like more than a get-together of this kind. Great venue, outstanding dogs, a distinguished and experienced judging panel and a social event in the evening that no other can now equal in the world of dogs in the UK.
The Chesford Grange Hotel, near Kenilworth played host to the Eukanuba Champion Stakes final for 2011.
This year the panel of three judges included Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine, the terrier specialist from the USA, gundog specialist Mrs Val Foss and WKC joint secretary and hound man Mr Graham Hill.
The format this year was preceded by an introduction to the ringside for each of the 25 exhibits by commentator Mr Andrew Brace.
After this the draw was made by Managing Director of Procter and Gamble's PetCare Division Judy Humphris and Lars Ortlieb their External Relations Manager.
This then determined which of dogs would compete against each other in the five rounds each with five dogs. At the end of each round the judges had to individually allocate marks out of a possible 100.
It was clear from the outset that the judges would have their task cut out and in the final analyses poured over by Mike Bloxsome and Andrew Brace 'group 3' of the competitors produced three finalists whilst 'group 5' produced two more. Each of the other groups sent forward one each for the final line-up.
The plan was to try to have seven of the top winners in the ring at the end and with a tie this was commuted to eight. But the excitement didn't end there! A tie between the smart WHWT and the beautifully presented Beardie had to be resolved as they stepped forward for the judges with star quality points to award.
The stewards stood by with the five boards, but wait - another tie, this time three-ways between one of the two Basenjis, the American bred labrador and the BIS winning Bichon.
The excitement was even more tangible as no-one in the crowd knew exactly which places in the final final line-up were being resolved!
The boards in place it was down to the commentator to build the tension even more with a reverse order listing. Fifth was the Bichon Frise Ch Pamplona Bring Me Sunshine, fourth the Bearded Collie Ch Senglas Indiana Jones, third the WHWT Ch Lamsmore Fitzwritin and runner up was the Pointer Sh Ch Kiswahili Martin at Kanix. It became clear the winner had never been in doubt as the homebred Lhasa Apso bitch Margaret Anderson's Ch Zentarr Elizabeth was led to the centre of the ring and the top spot.
The burning question was asked - was 'Elizabeth' pet passported and would they be going to the Eukanuba World Challenge in Orlando in December? 'Yes she is, and yes they are!' Breeder Manager Mike Bloxsome was a happy man.
In the evening there was a celebration dinner and disco for the energetic. At the dinner tributes were made to the Eukanuba team who made the whole thing happen and congratulations and warm applause greeted the overall winner Margaret Anderson and Elizabeth who will carry with them our best wishes and support to Orlando in December.
Pictures by David Cavill:
Pictures taken by Lisa Croft Elliott:
It was a surprise and fantastic honour to be invited to be included in the panel of judges made up of Peggy Beisel-Mcllwaine from the USA, our very own Valerie Foss and me from Wales, for an event which has become a high point in the UK Canine Calendar.
The Eukanuba Champion Stakes Final is arguably the most exciting and prestigious event held here in the UK and is now synonymous with the vivid pink of Eukanuba.
It is a breath of fresh air that Eukanuba has recognised the asset this showcase competition offers. The climax of the competition organised by Eukanuba is a credit to them and their, friendly well organised team.
Eukanuba's support of all the 25 Championship Shows, from where our finalists qualify throughout the year, should not go unmentioned; the invaluable contribution the heats create in adding prestige, by contributing valued entries and revenue to our shows, is appreciated by all show organisers.
This year's finalists were a credit to each of the heat's judges, to owners and handlers and most of all, a credit to UK dogs in particular. All were well deserving of their eligibility and were worthy representatives of their respective breeds.
The marking system has been well thought out and with each judge marking each individual finalist out of 100 , the top marked seven dogs returned to the ring for the tense climax and announcement of the top 5 being given in reverse order. This year tension was even more heightened by eight returning and two tie breaks having to be decided by my co judges and me.
The seven top marked dogs lined the ring with enthusiastic appreciation given from the attending audience.
It was the moment for the all important decision to award the top five placings.
As a judging panel we must have been of like mind; the results, which neither judge knew until announced by the accomplished commentator Andrew Brace, as we all submitted our personal placings without any conferring or reference to each other throughout the whole competition.
In 5th Spot was the well known Bichon Frise Ch Pamplona Bring Me Sunshine, in 4th spot was the Bearded Collie Ch Senegalas Indiana Jones, in 3rd Spot was the West Highland White Terrier Ch Lamsmore Fitzwritin, in 2nd spot was the Pointer Ch Kiswahili Martin At Kanix and the overall winner was:
The Lhasa Apso Ch Zentarr Elizabeth, who I had identified as my winner. She possesses not only fantastic coat and condition but is superior in quality, she has quality in breed type, she is well balanced, sturdy in conformation, profuse in coat and furnishings and has a head and expression which shines confidence and pride. She endorsed all her attributes with flawless free sound, typical jaunty movement.She is owned, bred and was handled by Margaret Anderson.
It is even more exciting to know she will represent the UK at the Eukanuba World Challenge to be held in Orlando, Florida, USA in December; I for one will be supporting her and following her progress with lots of cross fingers and stroking of lucky charms; though I think her great calibre and class will make her a Top Dog representative the UK can be proud of and who will undoubtedly do well.
Judging the Eukanuba World Challenge
Being a part of the Eukanuba World Stakes in the UK was a huge honour. To think I was one of the three judges to have the privilege of selecting the dog that would represent the UK at the Eukanuba World Championship in Orlando was something I never even dreamed of.
Having attended and judged at the AKC/Eukanuba Invitational dog show on a few occasions and watching the first World Championship I am not surprised how big this event is becoming. It is a wonderful global event that draws all dog show enthusiasts together. I can only see it getting bigger and more fantastic. It is our Olympics, but we don't have to wait four years for it, we get it annually.
The quality of the qualifying dogs was amazing. We had 25 fantastic dogs and it was a pleasure to examine each one. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Valerie Foss and Graham Hill. I felt we worked very well together. I had ring stewarded for Valerie at Westminster a few years prior and it was nice to reconnect. It was great to see some old friends and meeting so many new ones. What a great sport we have.
I thought the event was very well organized. The hotel accomodations were wonderful, the show format worked very well, the outcome fantastic and the evening event very high class. I only wish I could have stayed for the dancing, but I had to get to Swindon for the Cairn Club show I was judging the next morning.
I was very pleased that the Lhasa bitch won and will be able to attend the Orlando event. I understand in the past the actual winner was not able to attend due to not having the proper documentation. She is a lovely sized bitch, with beautiful expression and coat. She moved very well carrying a perfect topline and tail set. I think she will be a real challenger in the final event and wish her luck. I am sure I'll be secretly cheering her on. I only wish I could be there this year to watch in person.
I'd like to thank Andrew Brace, Mike Bloxsome, Phil Davies, Judy and all the others involved with Eukanuba for their hard work. Thanks to Ernie, Ann and Rob for their great ring stewarding and to Kevin Holmes, my dear friend for chauffeuring me around. Also, to his partner David Winsley for chauffeuring me around the previous days leading up to the event.
Thank you for letting me share in this spectacular event, I had a fantastic time.
I was pleased to be able to judge at this prestigious event as over the years I have done all the ' big ones ' & this did not disappoint lovely to judge with Peggy & Graham, the best of Stewards & the Eukanuba team made perfect hosts, not forgetting the commentator Andrew Brace who did his usual good job.
1st the lovely Lhasa Apso, well balanced sturdy heavily coated, without excess & correct temperament.
2nd The Pointer Symmetrical & well built all over; outline a series of graceful curves.
3rd West Highland White Terrier, Strongly built, good coat, great combination of strengh & activity
4th Bearded Collie Balanced, good head & expression, not too heavy moved well
5th Bichon Frise Balanced with correct smart appearance happy lively dog good coat