King's speech on Crufts success


 CRUFTS chairman Gerald King gave a report on this year’s show. He said:

When I spoke to you last year after the 125th anniversary of Crufts I told you that if we are to continue to deliver a world-class event we must not only have good quality and meaningful sponsorship, to maintain the high standards we have set ourselves to run this event but we must look at having additional competitions that attract not only competitors but visitors.

At the time I announced we would have the new Inter-Regional Rally Competition followed by Obreedience Competition in the obedience ring on Thursday. In breed the Breeders Stakes Competition would be reintroduced as a standalone competition at Crufts on the Saturday, limited to 60 teams.

Little did I realise at the time that we would be asked to host the tenth anniversary of the Eukanuba World Challenge. This was a fantastic opportunity to have the entire dog world in one place celebrating the most successful and well-known dog show in the world – Crufts – and at the same time hosting the distinctive Eukanuba World Challenge which placed the spotlight on the magnificence of pedigree dogs in one place and enhanced the partnership the Kennel Club has with Eukanuba supported by the FCI.

The 2017 show proved to be a great success with around 26,500 dogs this year not only in the breed rings or in the activities competitions but participating in Discover Dogs, in the Arena and in Dog Activities. With an overall entry of almost 22,000 dogs had qualified for breed judging, agility and Obedience Championship. With 3,469 dogs competing from overseas compared to 3,396 in 2016 an increase of two per cent. Dogs from a total of 55 overseas countries took part in the show, including for the first time Puerto Rico, Georgia, Guadeloupe and Reunion. This is eight more countries than competed in 2016.

Apart from the exhibitors, visitors and judges from overseas a number of senior members from overseas kennel clubs attended the show including the president of the FCI. Proving yet again Crufts is truly an international canine event.

Over the four days, the show attracted over 162,065 visitors, a record attendance. However, this high attendance did generate some adverse criticism, particularly on Saturday, which we will be addressing for the future. Fortunately this criticism of Crufts this year did not have an adverse effect on the show’s ratings for overall visitor experience, value for money and likelihood of return, gave us a Net Promotor Score for Crufts of +54. This still places Crufts at the high end of customer satisfaction for a consumer show when the average rating is +30 and the lowest consumer show rating is -12. These ratings together with increased visitors are considered a success.

With increased television coverage across the whole event in excess of 11 hours on both More4 and Channel 4 there was broadened audience appeal. This delivered an audience with a cumulative peak of 10.3 million viewers, 36 per cent up on previous years with 2.7 million watching best in show which, being 30 minutes earlier, meant we were competing against Call the Midwife was acknowledged by Channel 4 as a success as we have seen a steady increase in viewers over the past five years.

The enthusiasm for logging on to the worldwide web through YouTube again proved successful with over 357,940 hours of watch-time clocked on the Crufts live internet stream during the show up 40 per cent.

The press office saw considerable interest from the press with 703 members being registered from 34 different countries.  There has been a total of over 3,000 pieces of coverage across national, regional, specialist and trade press, in print, broadcast and online, for Crufts 2017. The overall advertising value equivalent for the period was over £10 million and the coverage reached millions of people around the world.

Over 80 news releases and announcements relating to Crufts were sent out to proactively secure press coverage across a range of media and the press office pitched news stories and feature ideas to journalists to promote the show and pedigree dogs.

Highlights include:


  • Over 150 pieces of press coverage for Eukanuba Friends for Life
  • Eight-page special Crufts pull-out in the Daily Express
  • Recognition of the Russian Toy and its appearance at Crufts covered by Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express
  • Crufts feature on the Sunday Brunch programme on Channel 4
  • Vulnerable native breeds double page feature in the Daily Mail and item on Good Morning Britain for which Caroline Kisko was interviewed
  • Birmingham press launch which secured coverage in local papers such as the Birmingham Mail and national papers including the Daily Telegraph helping to drive footfall to the show
  • Positive daily coverage of the show in every national newspaper after the press office set up photo and interview opportunities
  • Best in show covered by every national newspaper the day after the show

Only around two per cent of press coverage this year was negative (focusing mainly on the health of brachycephalic breeds, dogs being held on tight leads and the appearance of the gundog best in show) and was promptly dealt with by the press office, with comments provided or interviews carried out to balance any negative reporting. This helped to limit reputational damage to the Crufts brand, the KC and to sponsors, and Caroline Kisko and her team are to be congratulated for this.

The Discover Dogs area proved as busy as ever, enabling visitors to obtain information about the breeds they were interested in. The time and effort put in by the breed representatives working in this area shows their commitment to their breed. On behalf of the KC I personally would like thank all the breed representatives who continued to support us.

The KC Academy was promoted on the KC stand this year and over the four days demonstrated the increased number of online training facilities for judging, stewarding or breeding. This year we saw an increased number of judges registering to use this facility, which will become more significant in the future training and development of judges under the new Judges Competency Framework.

This year we saw two breeds have their own classes at Crufts for the first time, the Great Swiss Mountain Dog and the Jack Russell Terrier which attracted an entry of 97 dogs.

We also saw two breeds the Spanish Water Dog and Cesky Terrier have CCs for the first time.

On Thursday evening we saw the opening ceremony of the Eukanuba World Challenge when 32 dogs from five continents accompanied by their national flag and representatives of the countries kennel clubs entered the Arena. This was quickly followed by the semi-final judging when 12 dogs were shortlisted for the final on Friday. Laurent Picard from France judged the final and he selected as his overall winner the Maltese from Italy Ch Cinecitta Ian Somerhalder owned by Franco Posperi and handled by Javier Gonzales Mendikote.

The KC Vulnerable British and Irish Breeds Competition, in association with Our Dogs saw 21 breeds enter the Arena on Friday. The final was judged by Stuart Plane who selected as his winner the Smooth Collie Ch Clingstone’s Hot Shot at Foxearth known as Petra and owned by Trevor and Birgit Hayward

‘Super Saturday’ saw 40,000 visitors arrive at Crufts to watch not only the breed judging but what was also a truly international day with the finals of the International Agility, heelwork to music freestyle International and the International Junior Handling. This International aspect of the show saw the Arena full of spectators throughout the day and in the evening.

The final of the Scruffts Family Crossbred Dog of the Year Competition, sponsored by James Wellbeloved and run by the KC exclusively for crossbreed dogs, was won by Biscuit, a German Shepherd Dog/Border Collie owned by Joshua King, a 14-year-old YKC member from Prestatyn, Denbighshire.

After a two-year break we saw the KC Breeders Competition reintroduced as a standalone competition. 44 teams entered the Arena on Saturday evening to be judged by Anne Macdonald who selected as her overall winner the Vormund Japanese Shibu Inu’s bred by Liz Dunhill.

The International Junior Handling Final hosted by Crufts and supported by DOG WORLD again proved a great success with entries from 46 countries. This was judged by Vesa Lehtonen from Finland, who selected Scarlett Burnside, a YKC member from Ireland as the winner. My thanks go to James Skinner who contacts the kennel clubs around the world to encourage them to compete in this competition and to the owners/breeders who provided the dogs for the competitors.

In the Agility Championships held in the Arena we saw the following winners:

Small class Ag Ch Daimonic Expelliarmus handled by Charlotte Harding

Medium class Ag Ch Arnpriors Made of Honour handled by Sian Illingworth

Large class Ag Ch. Rujaff Red Hot Scandall handled by Charlotte Harding

In the Obedience ring over the four days we saw the following winners:

Inter-Regional Rally Competition: Wales

Obreedience: the GSD’s –the German Shepherd Dog Team

Inter-Regional Obedience: Midland

Obedience Championship

Dog: Ob Ch Beckim Surprise Surprise handled by Ria McGovern

Bitch: Ob Ch Stillmoor Celtic Banner handled by Karen Davis

The Eukanuba Friends for Life competition which recognises and rewards the remarkable relationship between dogs and their owners, is decided by a public vote from television viewers.

The KC Charitable Trust had continued with its generous donation of £8,000 to be made available to the finalists. The competition was won by Bowser, a Bull Terrier, who saved the life of his owner Sally Deegan who has multiple sclerosis and suffered a relapse and had passed out at home. Bowser attracted the attention of her husband who found Sally unconscious and alerted medical help in time to save her life. The winner received £5,000 for the charity of their choice and the other finalists received £1,500 each for their nominated charities.

On Sunday in front of nearly 7,000 people, this year’s best in show judge Jeff Horswell awarded the prestigious best in show award to the American Cocker Spaniel Sh Ch Afterglow Miami Ink known as Miami owned by Jason Lynn and Rui da Silva from Westby Lancashire and handled by Jason Lynn. Miami is the first American Cocker to win Crufts best in show and the breeders Jason Lynn and Mike Gadsby are the first breeders to breed two Crufts best in show winners. The reserve award went to a Miniature Poodle Ch Minarets Best Kept Secret owned by Melanie Harwood and handled by Melanie.

As the future of our sport is in the hands of young people is it pleasing to see yet another successful year at Crufts for Young Kennel Club (YKC) members both inside and outside the YKC ring with a number of major wins for its young members including Scruffts Family Crossbreed Dog of the Year, International Junior Handling and Junior Warrant Winner of the Year.

The Junior Warrant Winner of the Year competition was won by 23-year-old Jodi Allen from Lingfield, Surrey, with her two-year-old Rottweiler Mabel. Dedicated Jodi, who has been a member of the YKC for 15 years, took to the main arena at Crufts despite having a broken foot.

While Joshua, Jodi and Scarlett wowed the crowd in the Genting Arena, many other YKC members also had an extremely successful Crufts. These include:

  • Sophie Wildig, aged 15, from Hednesford, Cannock had a very successful day not only winning a CC with one of her Affenpinschers, making him a champion, but also winning a RCC with another of her Affenpinschers, and puppy dog class with another. She then went onto win best puppy in breed with her Australian Silky Terrier.
  • Page Allen, aged 20, from Lingfield, Surrey was awarded a RCC with her Rottweiler
  • Jessica Knox, aged 23, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire won a RCC with her Shar-Pei.
  • Lauren Bridges, aged ten, from Aston-On-Trent, Derby won a RCC with a Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

There were other achievements by talented youngsters competing in designated YKC events who received a donation from the KC Educational Trust award towards their development.

These were as follows:

Shaun McAlpine Outstanding Young Person of the Year won by Daisy Buckland

YKC Show Handler of the Year won by Georgina Brown.

I congratulate any young person who did well at Crufts in any discipline; it is a shame these achievements did not make more impact in the media as they are our future in any canine activity.

This year we saw the retirements from group stewarding and the Crufts Committee. Jim Peach retired as a group steward and his calming manner on the radio in the stewards’ office will be missed and we wish him an enjoyable and relaxing retirement.

From the Crufts Committee:

Anne Macdonald my vice-chairman, the face of Judges Reception and her support will be missed. Anne, however, will be back at Crufts Judging over the next few years including best in show in 2020.

Anne Bliss has been involved with Crufts for 25 years and I have had the pleasure of working with Anne for the past 24 years. Anne will not only be remembered for quiet controlled manner in briefing the group judges and group Winners for best in show but most of all in controlling the best of breed winners in the Collecting Ring prior to the group judging. Anne had a heart of gold and will be missed.

Apart from these three a number of long-standing ring stewards retired this year and we wish them all the best as they are the backbone of the show.

The overall success of Crufts is not down to any one person or persons but a team of people working together for the betterment of dogs. This team-work is reflected in the hard work put in by the small KC Crufts team under the leadership of Vanessa McAlpine working with a dedicated band of committed contractors supported by staff from the KC during the show and backed up by a small committee ensure that we continue to have a world class event that is the envy of all.

To all our exhibitors, judges, stewards, helpers, trade stands and for the work carried out by the Medical and Veterinary Centres must go our grateful thanks. To all our sponsors who supported us throughout and in particular our principle sponsor Eukanuba.

Our special thanks to all the teams and ring parties that manage and run the displays and training events – without which this great event could not take place.  

My sincere thanks go to everyone who contributed to the show in any way for making this Crufts an unquestionable success.

To all who participated in or attended Crufts 2017 this was a highly-successful. family-friendly show scaling new heights and once again confirming the strategic importance of the show to the KC and UK dogdom.

And now to 2018. As you can see from the slide on our screen before you there will be changes – as we no longer have use of the Pavilion for benching etc. and this will result in making some changes to the layout so we can still accompany the same number of events in the Arena which means we will endeavour to continue with the Breeders Competition for 2018 but will have to restrict the number of teams competing.

In addition Crufts cannot rely on sponsorship to continually run a ‘world-class event’ and as some of you may or may not know sponsorship is getting harder. We have seen the Chelsea Flower show lose a number of key sponsors this year including LG and M& G Investment and we lost Samsung after over 25 years.

It costs over £3m to run Crufts and we have an obligation to at least cover our costs going forward. With this in mind we have taken the decision to increase the entry fees for all breed and activity competitions for 2018 were competitors have to qualify and it is not by invitation to compete.

This means the entry fee will be: breed £30 per dog, all activity competitions £20 per entry.

Crufts is - and must remain – ‘the world’s largest dog show’ as well as the biggest and best celebration of healthy, happy dogs and the wonderful benefits they bring to society.