A League of Nations at Norrköping
The trip to Norrköping in Sweden for the Östergötlands Kennelklubb’s three international shows involved flying into Stockholm and then having a lengthy car journey in heavy traffic which took the best part of four hours.
Once installed at the Scandic Hotel it was good to meet up with Nicklas Eriksson who had been dealing with the judges’ arrangements. Managing a show of this size must be a logistical nightmare especially with such a cosmopolitan judging panel. I can’t imagine what the total travel bill must have been for six judges from Australia, five from the US, four from Denmark, three from Croatia, three from Norway, two from South Africa, Finland and Italy, one from Belgium, Gibraltar, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Malaysia, Paraguay, Poland and Spain in addition to myself, Andreas Schemel and Steve Seymour travelling from the UK and 15 Swedish judges. It was just as well that there were almost 4,000 dogs entered on each of the three days and the showground boasted dozens of trade stands.
On Saturday I had just Shetland Sheepdogs to judge... because of the entry they had taken the puppies away from me which still left 80 adults.
There were some excellent dogs in competition and interestingly both my BOB and BOS had apparently won the double at Crufts this year for their owner/breeder Carin Åkesson. Apparently at Crufts the male, Ch Windcrest Stylish Move, was BOB but here in Sweden I made his dam, Ch Windcrest On The Move, BOB having won the veteran class at almost nine years of age. I thought she was quite beautiful, outstanding for type and movement and I see she is sired by a Rannerdale export while her son has an Evad sire.
On Sunday my day began with Whippet puppies where best was a very scopey brindle bitch, Tappinskis Xtra Ordinary Girl, who won by quite a margin. I had also inherited the Border Terrier puppies where the winner was the eight-month-old bitch, Wästborders Brightstar, very typy and full of promise.
I then got on with my scheduled breeds, the first of which was Alaskan Malamutes. A standout for BOB was the winner of the champion male class who excelled in overall type and was a real powerhouse on the move. I was amazed to be told afterwards, when I was photographing the dog, that he was the Irish-owned Libertia Americano who had with a different handler won the RCC under me at Midland Counties last year… it really is a small world!
Next came an interesting entry of Afghan Hounds where type was rather mixed but from the moment she came into the ring I was drawn to a beautifully balanced gold bitch who was perfectly handled to show completely free and she did not disappoint on close inspection.
At just 13 months Khaos Ain’t Love A Bitch has it all to come – I loved her heavily patterned coat, her overall balance and bearing and the fact that she also had a ringed tail. Later in the day she won fourth in the group under Magnus Hagstedt and second in the vast junior BIS under Ger O’Shea, originally from Ireland but now looking a very mature Viking!
Weimaraners followed (the two coats being shown separately under FCI classification). My BOB Short Haired was a very handsome male, Ch Warrior’s Song Imperium Star, who had such a striking outline when set up. On the move he tended to soften a little in topline but I still made him G2 on the Monday when I judged group 7. BOB Long was a free-moving bitch of excellent basic type. Simply registered as ‘Ada’ – there could be no better name – she would have benefited from slightly slicker handling.
Pointers were a challenge with some very plain heads on view but BOB had a lot of type about him and Ch East Meadows Mr Turbo Triss placed in the group later in the day under Per Iversen.
My heaviest day was Monday which began with a large but mixed entry of Irish Setters. Movement in the majority left a lot to be desired and some heads I found quite alien. My best male was just 11 months old which speaks volumes but I am sure Blazing Bronze Eyes On The Price will have a great future as he has huge potential. My spirits really lifted when I came to the very last dog in the entry, the nine-year-old veteran bitch who simply floated into the ring, caught my eye and held it. Ch Caemgen’s Cross Any River was a joy to go over and a delight to watch moving. She really was in a class of her own, won BOB in a heartbeat, and likewise the group when she reappeared under me later in the day. She is a classic.
I then had two Irish Red and White Setters, one English Setter and one Bloodhound, none of which were graded Excellent.
Beagles were better than some of the entries I’ve judged in Sweden and the best puppy could have easily tempted me back into the ring if I was of a mind to become an exhibitor again! Örnbergets Bgl Blue Moon is a very exciting prospect at seven months, having such a fabulous outline and such free and scopey movement. I was delighted to watch him win BIS puppy under Glenda Goller from Australia. BOB went to a very classy champion bitch, Swed Pack’s Riddare Cannubi, who interestingly had the same sire as the exciting puppy and was litter sister to the BOS. However, had the system allowed I have no doubt that the puppy would have won BOB.
BOB Smooth Collie was a tricolour male, Active Star’s Argo, typical and sound with a degree of presence.
Next came a large entry of Rough Collies where as ever type was varied but when the champion dog class came in I could feel a broad smile forming when the blue merle, One Extaordinary Blu di Cambiano, swept into the ring with his Italian handler, Roberto Semenzato. I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting I didn’t recognise the dog… of course I did; he had won a junior BIS under me back in August 2015 when he had also been my BOB winner at Torino in his native Italy. Then at Three Counties last year he won the CC and BOB under me, going on to take G4 under Richard Kinsey. Here he was again, fully mature, as apparently he is spending the summer in Sweden with Eva Eriksson who has been mating some of her best bitches to him.
The fact that he was slightly out of coat at Norrköping was a huge advantage as this merely emphasised his fantastic outline and construction, his elegantly crested neck and added to his naturally noble bearing. On the move he is in a class of his own as he really drives behind, holding his shape and eating up the ground. I was so happy to see him again and was mightily impressed to learn that he has recently won BIS all-breeds under Rainer Vuorinen, the Collie Connoisseur.
My last breed was Old English Sheepdogs where a fairly easy BOB was won by the male, Ch Dizzny’z Supernatural, a well-balanced, substantial dog of quality who later placed in the group under specialist Colm Hastings. I see his dam is Aryakas Filodoxia, another bred by Nikolas Kanales.
The first day had seen a Leonberger male win BIS, Sunday a Saluki bitch and Monday an Irish Terrier bitch. There was to be a supreme BIS awarded and the identity of the judge was a very closely guarded secret. At the last minute it was revealed that this would be Diane Anderson who was desperately hoping that the wind would drop. When she was judging her group 5 there had been a fleeting Marilyn Monroe moment when Diane’s ethereal skirt seemed to have a mind of its own!
Her winner was the Saluki and at that point judges made their way to various destinations, many of us heading for Stockholm’s Scandic Infra City Hotel near the airport. I got home late on Tuesday night and then on Wednesday began repacking for the trip south to Malvern and four days at Three Counties.