Jason and Mike make dog show history

By: Simon Parsons


A BIT of dog show history was made last Sunday evening when Jason Lynn became the first person ever to breed, own and handle two Crufts best in show winners – and even more remarkably, from two different breeds.

Indeed, no one had even previously bred two such winners, but now Jason and founder of Afterglow Mike Gadsby have changed all that.

We all know Mike’s talents as a breeder/exhibitor of a wide variety of breeds – Sh Ch Afterglow Miami Ink is the 15th UK all-breed best in show winner he has bred or owned. And since Jason came from his native US to join the kennel in the mid ‘00s he has proved himself one of the outstanding handlers of his or any generation. No one will forget his performance with ‘Ricky’ the Standard Poodle three years ago in the same Arena, and now he has done it again.

The seven group winners with their group judges as Jeff Horswell takes his initial look. photo Walker

For fellow dog show geeks, here’s a reminder of the multiple Crufts winners. Bert Lloyd won BIS a probably unbeatable six times with three different Cockers, but none were homebred. Lorna Countess Howe won three times with two Labradors, neither homebred. Marita Rodgers won with two breeds, but again neither homebred, nor were Jackie Lorrimer’s father and son Irish Setters. Clare Coxall bred one winner and owned and handled (but didn’t breed) another, from two varieties of Poodle.

Among handlers, pros Albert Langley and Geoff Corish won twice, both with two different breeds.

So that demonstrates the enormity of Jason and Mike’s latest achievement, one indeed for the record books.

That was the climax of Crufts 2017 – what of the show itself? I think all serious dog people were praying for a quiet and peaceful Crufts and that is in general what we got, unlike the last two years free from anything too dramatic to feature in the national media. Indeed one sensed a degree of desperation in those who are determined at all costs to make mischief in the very feebleness of what they managed to come up with in the next day or so, all drawing a suitably robust response from the Kennel Club.

It’s a pity they can’t bring themselves to celebrate all that is positive about dogs, dog people and pedigree dogs in particular which this amazing event brings to the fore. But the public isn’t fooled, and continues to attend in apparently ever increasing numbers, thank goodness.

Second in the breeders’ final were a previous winner, the Lireva Pomeranians bred by Averil Cawthera-Purdy. One of their number had gone best of breed. Judge was Anne Macdonald and Jose Luis Ibanez represented Eukanuba. photo Walker

I grumble as much as anyone when I’m trying to get somewhere within the NEC and progress is continually blocked by those wandering, seemingly aimlessly, through the stands. But I have to kick myself and remind me that if they weren’t there the show would be a disaster, and that even if just a few of them are tempted to join in any one of the dog sports they have seen on the day, or are persuaded by Discover Dogs to go to a proper breeder for their puppy, then it’s all worthwhile.

And how addictive Crufts is. I’ve got a couple of years to go before I reach my half-century of Crufts but Peter Clifton tells me that he has been to 65 of them! Since the very early ‘50s the only year he missed has been ’54 when the electricians got the show cancelled. Perseverance pays off and he had his best ever Crufts with a group place and a new CC record. Can anyone else present this year match this?

For the fourth time the Pawscar awards ceremony at the NEC provided a prelude to Crufts at the Metropole on Wednesday evening. Once again filled to capacity, it looks like becoming a fixture and compères Lee Cox and Suzy Roffey give it a unique flavour.

Crufts moving to March more than 20 years ago was the best thing it ever did and the chosen dates usually give us reasonable weather which made the walk from the car parks reasonably tolerable except early on a drizely Sunday morning. Someone forgot to open one of the exhibitors’ car parks on the first day but after a bit of trouble it was soon sorted.

The Kennel Club Junior Warrant Winner of the Year final was judged by Tom Mather who chose the Rottweiler Jodipas Time, owned by John and Diane Allen and handled by daughter Jodi

If I were exhibiting I’m not sure whether I’d prefer to be on the first two or last two days. Does the relative ease of getting round the halls on a weekday balance out the much busier motorways round Birmingham?

Once inside the show layout is familiar to regular visitors – the team led by Gerald King and Vanessa McAlpine clearly feel that they have achieved the optimum the rather awkward plan of the halls can allow, as the pattern has not changed significantly for a good many years now.

Many visitors make straight for the Arena – to be able to sit down is a big bonus – and I hope they don’t miss the many attractions of hall 3, including of course Discover Dogs.

I sometimes wonder whether this vitally important part of the show could be expanded to take up even more of this hall to give everyone more room (especially those stuck at present next to the noisy Activities Ring). It really has become the part of the show that matters most.

What with the juniors’ own big ring, another for the various sporting activities, yet another for the Good Citizens, rescue dogs, some palatial trade stands and the Kennel Club’s information area, this hall is or should be the hub of the show.

The dedicated obedience people have their own ring in hall 5 and this year saw the first rally competition there. This, I gather somewhat controversially, replaced the World Cup and I will be interested to hear how enthusiasts thought it went. Everyone else, show dogs, agility dogs, freestyle dogs, junior handlers, has an exciting international competition, so why is obedience denied its chance?

The fast and furious sports are based in the Arena along with the traditional demonstrations, and Canicross is now an official KC discipline which drew a great many keen canine and human joggers to the Pavilion.

The Kennel Club Junior Warrant Winner of the Year final was judged by Tom Mather who chose runner-up the Australian Shepherd, Angie and Neil Allan and Robert Harlow’s Ch Allmark Vanity Fayre.

There’s space here just to mention a few of the winners. Obedience champions were Ob Ch Beckim Surprise Surprise and Ob Ch Stillmoor Celtic Banner and the Midlands won the Inter-regional.

The three sizes of Agility Champions were Ag Ch Comebyanyway Reddy For Fame, Ag Ch Raennes Flipping Heck (for the fourth time) and Ag Ch Daimonic Expelliamus (second time).

From Switzerland Amy von Linter won the international event.

Among the dancers Lucy Creek and Harriot Skiffle King continued their great run with another freestyle victory while Caroline Garrett and Wildsea Phoenix Of Fire topped the heelwork to music.

The International Freestyle winners, Lucie Plevova and Power Jump Alibara, now live in Japan and that was just the start of that country's successes.

On to the youngsters and the Young Kennel Club handling judged by Kirsty Miller was topped by Georgia Brown, while the international final seems to be just as popular as ever and Finland’s Vesa Lehtonen selected Scarlett Burnside from Ireland, a country with an excellent record of bringing on its younger dog people. Japan, incidentally, was third here.

Stuart Plane judged the Kennel Club Vulnerable British and Irish Native Breeds competition and chose the Smooth Collie, Trevor and Birgit Hayward’s Finnish-bred Ch/Fin/Rus/Blr/Hung Ch Clingstone’s Hot Shot at Foxearth. Runner-up was last year’s winner, David Alcorn, David Crowther and Jose Baddeley’s Gordon Setter Sh Ch Lourdace Fulcrum. With them is Vince Hogan of Our Dogs. photo Walker

The big innovation was of course main sponsor Eukanuba’s hosting of its World Challenge for the first time at Crufts. After the company split, the event moved from the US to Amsterdam Winner Show where it stayed two years. Now it’s part of Crufts; let’s hope it becomes a long-term arrangement.

The draw was made on Wednesday evening as to which of three sections the dogs would compete in. The judges were drawn on Thursday and pre-judged their allotted animals. In the main ring each went on to choose four out of 11. A day’s rest, and the final 12 competed in a glamorous finale under Laurent Pichard whose American Cockers have twice won this final. At least 11 of them did – the lovely Finnish dog was another Very Vigie American, and duly did a lap of honour.

It was disappointed that the UK wasn’t represented at this debut – our rep, the PBGV Magic Mike, had won BOB and opted to withdraw from the semi. But all was not lost as Devon the West Highland was also present thanks to her Crufts victory and looked a picture. It wasn’t her day but she did later bring her year in the spotlight to a happy conclusion when she and Marie Burns accepted a super painting in a big ring ceremony. Their achievements and contribution were amply recognised at the Pawscars – Jason, you have a lot to live up to!

Back to the Challenge and it proved a victory for the internationally admired Maltese Ch Cinecitta’ Ian Somerhalder, immaculately produced by Javier Gonzales Mendikote for Italy’s Franco Prosperi. Few dogs can have won bests in so many countries.

Saddest aspect of the show was that two judges could not compete their assignment. The Samoyed judge withdrew after the first few classes, and the Border Collie bitch judge about half way through. Our thoughts are with both; they must have been so looking forward to their day. It can’t be easy finding replacements at such short notice and some degree of flexibility regarding past or future appointments may be necessary.

Meanwhile the Bichon judge proved that it is perfectly possible to do a very thorough job of assessing a table breed from a wheelchair.

It wasn’t a great show for the current Top Dogs and none of last year’s group leaders made it through to a group place. The Cocker, Irish Terrier and Pembroke did best with a group shortlisting. The Whippet and Bouvier were third, the Papillon RCC again and the Bulldog didn’t attend. That’s dog showing…

Several breeds were celebrating, in particular the Ceskys and Spanish Water Dogs with their first CCs. Respective judges Sharon Clark and Espen Engh both chose for BOB an 11-year-old who has been a great ambassador for their breed, Janski Celtic Ceska and Sp/Sw Ch Curioso de la Ribera del Valentisimo. Indeed the Egginton family owned or bred all five top award winners in SWD.

I felt a touch sorry for the Jack Russells on their great Crufts debut with an enormous, cosmopolitan entry as they didn’t get into the ring until 2.30 but Stuart Plane gave them a good looking over and ended up with the Italian bitch It Ch Granlasco Simply A Beauty. Also on their first Crufts classes were ‘Swissies’ and Mark Cocozza chose a dog from Russia, Rus/Norw Ch Gran Vencedor Festus.

Terriers and hounds drew the Thursday straw this year. Another feature of the day’s Arena programme was the junior warrant winners’ final judged by Tom Mather who whose the Allen family’s Rottweiler Jodipas Time.

First group in was the terriers for Don Munro who has twice won this group and once gone BIS. His choice was the Lakeland Ch Saredon Enigma, handled by breeder John Averis for Tony Barker and Malta’s Johan Schembri. Lots of connections here – John’s Mum won a Crufts BIS as did his granddad, the latter with a Lakeland. It wasn’t to be this year but here’s hoping for a third generation triumph one day. Tony’s parents bred a Crufts RBIS winner too. Max King was the breed judge.

Second was Bellevue Thunder Bolt, a British-bred West Highland living in the Netherlands, third multi-titled Ch Dariant Egypt, a Russian-bred Dandie from Finland, and fourth Int Ch Dandy Black And Blue Just For Balboa, a Croatian-bred Kerry Blue, UK/Italian co-owned.

For the hounds, Borzoi expert Graham Hill swapped his commentator’s hat for a judicial one. It was a first Crufts group win for a Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen in the shape of of newly titled Frosty Snowman, the Houndshow RBIS winner. I think he’s only the second UK GBGV group winner following Ch Debucher Le Barbu who won three. Although affix-less he’s well enough bred, by Phil Reid of the Maudaxis and co-owned and handled by Gwen Huikeshoven of the famous Dutch Tum Tums Vriendjes kennel of both sizes. Still very young, he’s already having an exciting career in Europe. Dianna Spavin had judged the breed.

Second was the Whippet Ch Colooney Tartan Tease, a group winner as a puppy last year, third yet another visitor from the famous Italian kennel of Wolfhounds, It Ch Donnerhall della Bassa Pavese, and fourth the Beagle Ch Dialynne Peter Piper, a very young BIS winner last year.

Friday, it’s toys and utility and there had been some concern about how things would go with the campaigners regarding the brachycephalic breeds issue. Why it isn’t possible for those who feel strongly about such questions to work with breed people who care just as much I cannot fathom. In the event everything seemed pretty relaxed. Whether there were lots of ‘undercover’ photographers we will no doubt discover in due course.

As well as the World Challenge the evening programme saw a final for representatives of the vulnerable native breeds, where Stuart Plane went for Trevor and Birgit Hayward’s Smooth Collie, multi-titled Ch Clingstone’s Hot Shot at Foxearth who has had an amazing breed career since arriving from Finland.

The utility group, judged by last year’s BIS judge Derek Smith, was a victory for the Miniature Poodle Ch Minarets Best Kept Secret and third-generation breeder Melanie Harwood. He won his title and his first group at Manchester and combines UK and American lines, a grandson of Melanie’s last Crufts group winner, the famous Secret Assignment. Breed judge was Cathy Lawton-Anderson.

The big winning Akita bitch Ch Stecal’s Love At First Sight was second, followed by the Toy Poodle from St Petersburg, Rus Ch Evak’s Watermark, fresh from a super second place in the World Challenge. Following on was a Spanish imported Frenchie Mayweather de Aronui Ardhub, the first Crufts group place for the breed for a good many years if not decades.

On to the toys, the sixth Crufts group for our top judge Zena Thorn Andrews. A remarkable show for Japan climaxed with what I think is that country’s first Crufts group win, achieved by Chizuru and Hadayashi Kadowaki’s Yorkshire Terrier Int Ch My Precious JP Kagayaki, first time shown in the UK and a mixture of American and Japanese lines. Christine Crowther had sent her through.

Second was the close runner-up to Top Dog 2015, the dual BIS-winning Longcoat Chihuahua Ch Hollyel Topaz Chancer (by a Japanese dog!), third the Bichon Ch Pamplona Just Magic, making a comeback to the ring, and fourth the Silky. That breed has certainly shown quality if not quantity down the years and surely it could have a few sets of CCs each year?

Just gundogs on Saturday, and that also brings with us Adrian and Caroline Slater’s always hilarious working gundog demo and the gamekeepers’ final which Anne Greeves awarded to a real dual-purpose dog in the German Shorthaired Pointer Int/Dutch/Lux/Bel Ch Friarsbelle Marsh Mellow.

That evening also saw the revival of the breeders’ competition with 44 of the 60 entered teams turning up including one of the overseas entrants. Entry was first come, first served, and a couple of breeders had double teams. Pre-judging was done, rather unceremoniously, in another hall. I think a few tweaks will be needed but certainly the groups present looked just in general as classy as those who qualified under the old format in previous years and included some of our leading breeders, such as Liz Dunhill whose Vormund Shibas proved victorious under Anne Macdonald. The team also went home with three CCs and two BOB so a happy Crufts for them.

David Guy was accompanied by Olympic rowing gold medallist Alex Gregory in judging the Scruffts finalists and they did a great job at putting the candidates at ease. Young Joshua King, who won from the Good Citizen category with his dog Biscuit, is just the sort of dog owner we need to encourage.

Sometimes gundog group judges tend towards the tweedy in their outfits but Fiona Coward Scholes went for a more flamboyant look and clearly enjoyed assessing what a lot of people thought was the most exciting group of the show, so far at least.

Runner-up to Miami Ink,  wh is co-owned by Rui da Silva from Belgium and who had won his breed under Ken Sinclair, himself breeder of a Crufts BIS winner, was a Swedish-bred Flatcoat from Norway, multi-titled Int Ch Altaflats Ain’t I’m A Dog, handled by young Patrick Oware for Ida Wiesener. How the green carpet and big ring so often suits this breed. Third was the Dutch-bred undocked German Wirehaired Pointer Sh Ch Esmee Dragon from Rhona’s Home at Bareve, and fourth last year’s winner in the big-winning Gordon Sh Ch Lourdace Fulcrum.

Sunday and all eyes, including those of quite a umber of Kennel Club board members, were on the German Shepherd ring. Last year’s show is still fresh in many minds. Judge Malcolm Robinson made it clear he would tolerate no double handling and I for one felt that the much calmer atmosphere showed off the dogs’ movement far more effectively. A pity, though, that they are no longer allowed to move full out, for that is surely the breed’s glory.

There was considerable relief all round when Malcolm pointed to the gloriously unexaggerated Ch Veneze Gucci for best of breed, sensibly handled by Steve Cox. She, like all the other category three breeds, survived her vet check, which has been toughened up recently for the Shepherds, as well as the new lower key check in the collecting ring which every BOB had to undergo.

It’s always encouraging when a group judge has genuine connection with working as well as show dogs and that applies to working group judge Meg Purnell-Carpenter. Her choice was the Newfoundland Ch Merrybear D’Artagnan, handled by co-breeder Paddy Galvin for Terry and Lyn Chapman. Good to see this affix which has adorned so many champions recognised in the Crufts group ring. Delia Sarson had given him BOB.

In reserve was a multi-titled Leonberger from Russia, Amicus Opimus Vitalis, third the dual BIS-winning Dobermann Ch/Ir Ch Jojavik Midnight Express and fourth the internationally top winning Portuguese Water Dog, Canadian-bred US-owned and British-handled Ch Hi Seas Dr Romeo Macduff, titled in various countries.

Samoyed specialist Robin Newhouse took on the good looking pastoral group and it was an Old English Sheepdog from Greece who took his eye and that of the crowd, Int Ch Aryakas Pegasos from the kennel of Nikolas Kanales which mas made a big mark throughout Europe and in the UK. Pauline Mills was the breed judge.

A new champion Puli was second, Weetoneon Polly Flinders, bringing back memories of her delightful co-breeder Avril Lacey. In third was the aforementioned Cardigan Ch Joseter Mr Blobby, now the breed’s top CC winner, and fourth the Shepherd Gucci – how I wish we could have seen her move to her full potential.

Those who have paid to watch the final evening performance get their money’s worth, with the Friends For Life interviews, the title won by the Bull Terrier Bowser, a rescue dog who has done so much for his owner. I know breed people were keen to support one of their own and it paid off.

Ronnie Irving judged the Young Kennel Club stakes final and it was a second victory here for the Dalmatian Ch Winflash Born To Be Wild and Charlotte Page.

The version of Singing In The Rain by Mary Ray and her pair of Collies was fresh and slick. How on earth does she teach them to do that, one asks every year, and every time she excels even her own standards.

Fun and drama combine with the West Midlands police dogs and real life got a look in with the presentation of the annual humanitarian award to a Northern Ireland police dog who found and saved from certain death a highly disturbed individual.

For those of us with hours to drive, a half-hour earlier finish to the show, to suit Channel Four, was a blessing. As usual the seven group judges stood behind the markers to await the arrival of their choices, and that of best in show judge Jeff Horswell.

A relative youngster for making this award, Jeff has decades of experience in dogs and a serious approach to his work combined with a pleasant attitude towards his exhibitors. I have seldom seen a Crufts BIS judge go over his seven as thoroughly as did Jeff on the night, yet without wasting any time.

Each dog went round once more and it was a first Crufts BIS for an American Cocker, a breed which is no stranger to such wins at all the other big shows. Of course those who enjoy chuntering were quick to bring up the old chestnut of  ‘Is that really a gundog?’ But the breed’s working capability has been proven many times over the decades so let’s hope the doubters do some research.

Reserve was another youngster, the Miniature Poodle – several Toys and Standards have won Crufts but the Mini’s time is still to come. Perhaps next year! Both dogs, incidentally, hail from Lancashire, and another factoid, five out of the final seven are from the formerly docked breeds. Amazing how we seldom give this a thought now.

It was the Crufts we needed, nothing dramatic to write about for once and a great show all round. 


BIS judge’s report - JEFF HORSWELL

My thanks to the Crufts committee & the Kennel Club Board for inviting me to judge BIS at Crufts. This really was the appointment of a lifetime. When I first started showing & then judging I could never have even begun to imagine I would have judged anything at Crufts, let alone BIS. Congratulations to Gerald King, Vanessa McAlpine & Simon Luxmoore & their teams for putting on a fantastic show.

My thanks also to all those who have encouraged & helped me over the years, the many show societies I have judged for, & a special thank you to the late Terry Thorn, who helped me & many others so much. It was 20 years ago, Terry made the same award, I am sure he was watching.

Seven dogs came into the Arena on Sunday night & all put on a great performance.

The Lakeland, Ch Saredon Enigma, in beautiful coat & so very well presented. Moved around the ring with such style holding a perfect topline.

The Grand Basset, Frosty Snowman, gave of his all, full of Grand personality & another who went round the ring so well, level topline & tail held high.

The Yorkie all the way from Japan, Int Ch My Precious JP Kagayaki, she has such a cute face, lovely short back, super tailset & carriage, lovely colours & texture to her immaculate coat.

Newfoundland, Ch Merrybear D’Artagnan, large male, beautifully boned, but light on his feet moving round. Super coat presentation, & the correct texture.

Old English Sheepdog, Int Ch Aryakas Pegasos, the final one in the line-up & again such a super outline as I walked along the line. Lovely sized head, & such a super body.

The Miniature Poodle, Ch Minarets Best Kept Secret, presented & conditioned perfectly with a beautifully textured coat. Very pleasing to go over & carried himself so well on move with head held high & correct tail carriage. On the final run round he pulled out all the stops to steal RBIS from his opposition.

Which leaves the ultimate BIS winner, the American Cocker, Sh Ch Afterglow Miami Ink, a beautiful dog, superbly presented & a flawless performance. Under that coat is a well made dog, he has forechest, big ribs, complementary angulation, & he is so beautifully muscled up. Slightly sloping topline with excellent tailset, & he holds that hard topline on the move. He was the dog on the night that excited me the most, & so the top spot was his.