Ian is on top of the world by Marina Scott
The Eukanuba World Challenge celebrated its tenth anniversary at the world’s greatest show, Crufts.
There is no dog event in the world that can compare to this unique competition. It spent the first six years in the US, followed by a two-year stint alongside the Amsterdam Winner Show when the decision to bring the exciting competition to Crufts was made.
With the support of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and the Kennel Club (UK), 32 dogs from five continents earned a slot to compete at the event. The competitors had qualified either by being best in show at a major international dog show such as the World Show and Crufts or by being selected by their country’s kennel club.
The FCI is the largest canine organisation in the world and includes 91 members and recognises 344 breeds. The FCI has been a partner of Eukanuba for ten years and has been an invaluable supporter of the Eukanuba World Challenge since the competition began in 2007.
Hive of activity
The competition slotted into the main ring programme in the Genting Arena as if it had always been there but I can imagine a lot of sacrifices had to be made to find the extra time and space for the event. The main ring is a hive of activity from 9am until 8pm on all four days of Crufts and the Eukanuba World Challenge opening flag ceremony began at 5.30pm on day one. All competitors were announced individually into the ring accompanied by their nation’s flags and many were also joined by representatives from the country’s Kennel Clubs.
Immediately following this we watched the semi-final judging. The dogs had been pre-judged in rings 35/36 in hall 5 earlier in the day so there was no hanging around – the judges just saw them move once more and then their top four dogs were selected to go through to the best of the best final.
Section one was judged by Jean Jacques Dupas from France and his four finalists included Stepanka Horakova’s Greyhound representing Norway Jet’s Man In The Moon; Nuria and Raquel Vigo Navajon’s Chow Chow representing the European Dog Show, King of Egypt de los Perros de Bigo; Romulo Sanchez Torres, Janet Lange and James Moses’ Smooth Chihuahua Sonnus Filho Sanchez from Mexico and Davida Brown’s Bichon Frise representing New Zealand, Shandau Its All About Image. The UK representative, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Soletrader Magic Mike, was withdrawn from the semis, having won best of breed on the day.
Section two was judged by Liz Cartledge and her four finalists included Rinus and Anneke Otto’s Bearded Collie representing the Netherlands, Beardie Connections Kenji; Antony Wijaya’s Jack Russell Terrier representing Indonesia, Sandy Diamond Arishem The Judge; Raquel Colcaco’s Basset Hound representing Portugal, Yogi Bear Dos Sete Moinhos, and Natalia Mankova and Anna Stepkina’s Toy Poodle from Russia, Evak’s Watermark.
Section three was judged by Carmen Navarro from Spain and her four finalists included Katja and Sabine Rauhut’s Tibetan Terrier representing Germany, Falamandus Remastered Edition; Franco Prosperi’s Maltese representing Italy. Cinecitta’ Ian Somerhalder; Ji-Sung Koo’s Bulldog from South Korea, Major League Pop-A-Top Roll Of The Dice and Sanna Vartiainen, Heidi Kangas and Terki Korhonen’s American Cocker Spaniel representing Finland, Very Vigi Huluberlulu.
The honour of judging the ‘best of the best’ final was Laurent Pichard. His Very Vigie kennel of American Cockers has enjoyed huge success and has made up champions all around the world for himself and other owners. He was very familiar with the event having bred two American Cockers to win the Eukanuba World Challenge finals twice, once in 2007 with Very Vigie Vamos à La Playa and last year with Very Vigie I Don’t Know. In fact, he almost made it the triple crown as another dog he had bred, Huluberlulu, had qualified and represented Finland. ‘Morgan’ made it through the semi-finals under Carmen but the owners sportingly decided to withdraw from competing in the final, instead completing a lap of honour.
At just after 6pm on Friday hundreds of thousands of people from around the world watched via live web-streaming to see Laurent choose Franco Prosperi’s Maltese from Italy as his winner of the prestigious international competition. Handling the dog as usual was Javier Gonzalez Mendikote. The four-year-old dog has his title in 11 countries including the UK where he was best in show at Manchester. Ian is the son of C Sasha Baron Coen who was Crufts 2016 group winner and RBIS at the World Show in Helsinki and third runner-up at the EWC in 2014.
He awarded second place to Natalia Mankova and Anna Stepkina’s 20-month-old owner-bred Toy Poodle from Russia, Evak’s Watermark. Pit is a champion in Russia and the Czech Republic and has 11 BIS wins all around Europe
Third place went to Ji-Sung Koo’s Bulldog from South Korea, Major League Pop-A-Top Roll Of The Dice. ‘Dice’ was bred by Brian Almojera, Chris and Rayna King and is a champion in the US, Thailand, China, Phillipines and South Korea. He was number one dog all breeds in Korea in 2015 and 2016. He has been BIS 28 times in two years of his show career.
Gerald King, chairman of Crufts, said: “Crufts and the Kennel Club have been delighted to host the Eukanuba World Challenge, especially in this special tenth anniversary year. This event really throws the spotlight on the wonderful world of pedigree dogs which, when combined with the great traditions for which Crufts is famous, has made for a truly great spectacle in the main arena at the world’s most famous dog show. We send many congratulations to the Maltese who had travelled from Italy, as well as thanks to Eukanuba who have worked hard to put on a world class event in partnership with the Kennel Club, supported by the FCI. A truly international event and a very worthy winner.”
FCI president Rafael de Santiago said: “The tenth anniversary has been a magnificent event for the World Challenge and for the Kennel Club. Working all together it has proven to be an exciting experience. We have some of the best pedigree dogs on show and congratulations to the winner from Italy. We look forward to working together supporting the Eukanuba World Challenge in the future.”
Jose Luis Ibanez, Eukanuba World Challenge show chairman, said: “The event at Crufts was a resounding success and thanks to months of hard work from my team at Spectrum Brands – we believe this Eukanuba World Challenge was the best one yet! We are very grateful for the successful collaboration with the Kennel Club, without them we wouldn’t have had such a fabulous backdrop to the competition. What a way to celebrate ten years of the Eukanuba World Challenge!”