The Bracco was victorious at Britain's National Gundog Show.
Fri, 04/05/2024 - 12:28am

Group Dynamics

Group shows in the U.K. have always been very popular with exhibitors

All photos by Alan Seymour


As a rule, the breeds within these group shows have always had specialists, and so exhibitors feel they have more in-depth knowledge than perhaps the all-round judges.

It quite odd that some groups have more than one show. Terriers have just one — The National Terrier — and until this year there was just one for the Toy Group, The United Toydog Society. Again, just one for the Non-Sporting group (which in the U.K. is called Utility), that being the British Utility Association.

But this year that will change, with an extra one for both groups, though the extra one for Non-Sporting is in Scotland. Hounds have just two: The Hound Association, and the other is in Scotland.

Of course, the biggest numbers are in the Gundog, Working and Herding groups, which have three each, again with one each in Scotland.

The British Utility Breeds show, held on December 2, 2023, has always been a big draw for exhibitors, as it has such flair. I think I’m safe in saying the Non-Sporting folks are a real fun bunch. The venue for the show is in Stafford, which I’ve mentioned on several occasions — central and close to motorways, exhibitors like it. 


Best in Show was the Miniature Poodle Ch Michandy Realistic JW, owned and bred by Jackie Kitchener.


Long-time Poodle breeder Keith Nathan of the Supernova kennel judged Best in Show. His winner was the black Miniature Poodle Ch Michandy Realistic, owned and bred by Jackie Kitchener. Reserve Best was from the famous Vormund Japanese Shiba Inu kennel of Liz Dunhill and her daughter Michaela Dunhill-Hall, Ch Vormund Vivienne Westwood.


Reserve Best was the Japanese Shiba Inu Ch Vormund Vivienne Westwood, owned by Michaela Dunhill-Hall.


Best Puppy in Show was the Miniature Schnauzer Nujax Blue Moon NAF, owned by Mrs. A and Mr. J. Manser.


Best Puppy in Show went to the black and silver Miniature Schnauzer Nujax Blue Moon, owned by Jaxson and Amy Manser. Jackson and Amy are probably better known for their American Cockers, several of which have been imported from the U.S.

On August 6, 2,045 dogs were entered for the National Gundog Show, which is always held in the beautiful Cotswolds area, at the Three Counties Agricultural Centre. A better showground for the gundogs would be hard to find. But then this group does attract huge entries in the more popular breeds. Labradors had 276 dogs, Irish Setters with 114, and several others — Cockers, Pointers, Weimaraners and Flat Coats — were close behind, again needing lots of space.


Clumber Spaniel Best of Breed winner was Sh Ch Vanitonia Soloist, owned by Mr. L.A.S. Cox.


It was yet another Chesterhope winning Best of Breed in Pointers: Show Ch Chesterhope C'mon Over to Carmandine, another from Dianne O'Neill’s famous kennel in New Zealand. Another star emerged in the Clumber Spaniel ring when Sh Ch Vanitonia Soloist took Best of Breed. You may have heard of Vanitonia in the past. This is one of the most famous kennels created way back with Toy and Standard Poodles by partners Roger Stone and Graham Thompson, sadly now both no longer with us. But way back, Lee Cox joined them as kennel help, and he has now taken the kennel on to great heights. I’m sure we are going to hear a lot more of this exciting young dog.


Best in Show was the Bracco Italiano SH CH Braccorions Never Say Never JW, owned by Mrs. M. Critchley.


And so to Best in Show. It’s not often we see a Bracco Italiano winning top spot, but it did here, and it was the bitch Show Ch Braccorions Never Say Never, with Reserve Best to the English Setter Show Ch  Severnsett Firecracker. Best Puppy in Show was the German Wirehaired Pointer Caldwriver Storm N'Teacup.


Best Puppy in Show was the German Wirehaired Pointer Caldewriver Storm N’ Teacup For Katillien, owned by Miss K.A. O’Brien.


Finally, we will soon have the greatest dog show in the world, Crufts. This year, the entry is higher than ever. To give you some idea of the largest breed entries, the top one is Golden Retrievers with 653. Labs follow with 623. There are 299 Irish Setters, 365 Border Collies, 466 Whippets, 426 Flat Coats. 283 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, 403 Staffordshire Bull Terriers, 234 Mini Smooth Dachs, 251 Dalmatians, 320 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, 254 Pointers and 202 Newfoundlands.

So, some amazing entries. For me it’s like Montgomery: Every person should see this show at least once. But bring comfortable shoes!



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