The Northern Classic
The first major general championship show of the year is Manchester, sometimes referred to as “The Northern Classic.” It is the first of what are called the representative shows, meaning that every breed-allocated Challenge Certificates by the Kennel Club is allocated them at this show.
Often breeds are scheduled without CCs; that is because the Kennel Club only allocated so many sets at the beginning of the year. Manchester is a major city in the northwest of England, but sadly does not have a venue suitable for a show of this size, so therefore they have special permission to move further south into Staffordshire, so the well-known and very popular Stafford County Showground is used. It is now even more popular with exhibitors, and it is the last show that there is a chance of a Crufts qualifier.
From January until even April the weather can be very unpredictable, and so shows are always held inside. Indeed, on the first day of the show, January 19, there was a light falling of snow.
This is a four-day show, and the first day is Hounds and the Herding breeds. The Herding Group was won by the Russian-imported Australian Shepherd Dog Ch. Brighttouch Drift The Line Through Dialynne, co-owned and handled by Melanie Spavin, the other owners being the Hong Kong-based John Shaw and Kerry Kirtley. This kennel is more famous for its Beagles, and Melanie is a third generation of the family started by the famous Marion Spavin.
The Hounds were won by the Borzoi Ch. Jansams Killer Queen, co-owned by Rhiannon Codling and Vernon Jones.
The second day it was the Toys and Terriers, and in Toys it was an all-Scottish winner and judge. Carrying on her winning ways was the Chinese Crested Ch. Habiba Hold My Purse.
A strong Terrier Group was won by the well-known Smooth Fox Terrier bitch Ch. Kanix Quickstep, piloted by Warren Bradley for her owner, Norwegian-born Kari Wilburg. Closely followed by the Border Ch. Otterbobs Tolson, the Norfolk Ch. Watercroft Boozzy Miller and the Italian-owned Kerry Blue Balboa Leonida, bred by that very famous kennel of the Tasselli family, this one co-owned with Simona Caltabiano.
The Saturday had one group to itself —that’s because of the huge numbers that gundogs attract. It was a very special day for the famous Gunalt Weimaraner kennel: Not only did Show Ch. Gunalt Hendricks win the group, but the Challenge Certificate winner in bitches, Articulate, gave the kennel its 100th Gunalt champion, quite the feat.
Final day, and again the weather changed, and we drove to the show with the trees laden with a sharp frost and a beautiful sunshine. This day was Non-Sporting and the Working breeds.
In Working, a new face to group winning was the Canadian-imported Portuguese Water Dog Can/UK Ch. MacDuff’s Critical Acclaim.
The Non-Sporting group winner was also the Best in Show winner, and that went to the brindle French Bulldog Ch. Chelmbull Rocket Man, owned and handled by Dean Cund, his daughter Abbie and Alex Harrop. This dog has had a great career and was one of the leaders in this group in 2022. Runner-up was the Chinese Crested.