Best in Show at the 2023 show was the Australian Shepherd Ch. Brighttough Drift The Line Through Dialynne (Imp Rus), owned by Mrs. M. Raymond, Mr. J. Shaw and Mrs. K. Kirtley. Pictured with BIS judge Mrs. Jill Peak. This and all photos by Alan Seymour.
Fri, 08/11/2023 - 2:03am

Birmingham Then and Now

Britain's oldest dog club logs in another annual show

All photos by Alan Seymour

The Birmingham National Dog Show society — whose show this year was held May 4 through 7 — is recognized as the oldest dog club in the U.K.

Newcastle upon Tyne was the scene of the first organized dog show in June 1859, prior to which competitions of various sorts had been held in pubs and clubs up and down the country. The Birmingham show held in November 1859 was organized by Mr. Richard Brailsford, gamekeeper. An organizing committee of eminent gentlemen and sportsmen insured the show, held in one of the galleries of the Horse and Carriage Repository. Birmingham was a successful event for the 80 or so dogs entered in the 14 classes.

Inspired by the popularity of this show, the committee continued to make it an annual event, and some of the gentlemen involved went on to become the founder members of the Kennel Club some 14 years later.

Modern-day exhibitors expect very high standards at dog shows — large rings, good layout and facilities. In the early days sawdust was the norm for the floor, and the dogs were paraded between the benches and held by stewards while being judged. Lady exhibitors complained if there was too much wet floor covering because of their flowing skirts; the exhibits were often dispatched by rail.

In 1859 Pointers and Setters were the only breeds on show, and there were three judges. Nowadays nearly 200 breeds are judged, and Challenge Certificates are on offer for every breed that has them. (For historical reasons the National is a representative show, which entitles the management committee to elect a member of the Kennel Club Show Executive Committee and to have Challenge Certificates for all breeds, as at Crufts and the Welsh and Scottish kennel clubs.)

The National has been held at a number of venues over the years. The late 1980s saw a move from the National Agricultural Centre to Perry Park Birmingham, where the innovative “in and out” rings under marquees were first used and now are commonly seen at a number of major dog shows. After a succession of shows on this site, a move was made to Arbury Hall, Warwickshire, a lovely venue let down by the weather. So now it is yet another society using Stafford showground, which l have mentioned on numerous occasions. Thank goodness for it, as without l am really not quite sure what would happen. The National Exhibition Centre, used by Crufts, is hugely costly and really out of most clubs’ finances. So, as l say, thank goodness for Stafford. The town is situated just north of the major city of Birmingham, so is the center of the country and within driving distance for most, except of course for those living in Scotland.


Best in Show was the Australian Shepherd Ch. Brighttough Drift The Line Through Dialynne (Imp Rus), owned by Mrs. M. Raymond, Mr. J. Shaw and Mrs. K. Kirtley, pictured with Jennie Griffiths (secretary), Keith Young (president), Alison Morton (Royal Canin) and Vince Hogan (Our Dogs).


This year coincided with HRH The King’s coronation, and so a great day of celebrations. Everywhere you looked, folks were having great times, and a large screen allowed those who wished to watch the ceremony. Of course, the rings were all decked out in Union Jacks, and it really was heartwarming to be there and enjoy this special day. Several judges as well had dressed for the occasion with Union Jack suits, bow ties and hats, etc.



Group winners on the first day were Melanie Raymond’s Australian Shepherd Ch. Brighttouch Drift The Line Through Dialynne. The Working Group was won by a new face to group winning, the Tibetan Mastiff Ch. Richearon Palden.

Day two was the Non-Sporting and Toy breeds. It was a journalist’s dream when the nod for first went to the King Charles Spaniel, who himself had been “crowned” earlier in the day, taking his third CC under Mr. Gary Thomas. Cavallibrook Blimey O Riley was Best of Breed at Crufts and took his second CC at WELKS. 

For Non-Sporting, the winner was the Lhasa Apso, “Tino,” Ch. Khinjan Valentino With Orcavoe. 

Saturday was Terrier, Hound and Coronation Day!

Topping the Hound Group was the Irish Wolfhound, who triumphed after several laps of the ring. Ch. Sade Paris was Top Hound in 2022. His owner is Chris Amoo, famous singer for the pop group The Real Thing. I’m not sure how well known they are in the U.S., but here they play to sold-out audiences.

Great entries in Terriers, and the winner was the young Bedlington Ch. Conekesheved Too Shy JW, who topped National Terrier the previous month, so he is on a great roll.


Reserve Best in Show was the Bedlington Terrier Ch. Conekesheved Too Shy JW, owned by Mr. J. and Mrs. L. McNally, pictured with Alison Morton (Royal Canin), Keith Young (president), Best in Show judge Mrs. Jill Peak and Nick Gourley (chairman).


Final day was the gundogs, and with the huge entries we have, they had the day to themselves. Into first place went the Pointer Sh Ch. Wilchrimane Frankel (AI), sent through by Diane O’Neill of the famous Chesterhope Kennel, who had travelled all the way from New Zealand at her own expense to judge at the show. She must have been one very happy judge.

And so the final, and sadly the owner of the Irish Wolfhound was not able to compete, as he was on stage that day. But it was a wonderful win for Viking the Australian Shepherd, his first general all-breed Best in Show after topping the two group Working and Herding Breeds shows, and four Reserve BIS awards. Runner-up to him was the young Bedlington Terrier Daisy, who has had a fantastic start to the 2023 season.


Best Puppy in Show was the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Ellmich Good Trouble With Gleniren, owned by Mrs. I. and Mr. G. Robb and Mrs. M. Chapman and Miss T. Ireland.


Reserve Best Puppy in Show was the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Silkcroft Fortune and Glory, owned by Mrs. C. and Mr. C. Satherley.


Best Veteran in Show went to the amazing black American Cocker Show Ch./American Ch. Silhouette Troubling Nasailleen with Mycalleys, which l am sure will please Linda Pitts and Laurie Fenland, his breeders. This lad has looked so well for so long and is in fact stilling winning in his breed classes. He is owned by Lisa Nelson, Leanne Bryant and Barbara Morris.


Best Veteran in Show was the American Cocker Spaniel Am Ch./ Ir Ch./Sh Ch. Silhouette Troubling Nasailleen With Mycalleys, owned by Mrs. L. Nelson, Mrs. B. Morris and Mrs. B. Bryant, pictured with Jennie Griffiths (secretary) Keith Young (president), Best in Show judge Mrs. Jill Peak, breed judge Colin Woodward, Alison Morton (Royal Canin) and Vince Hogan (Our Dogs).


Reserve Best Veteran in Show was the German Spitz (Klein) Ch. Longsdale Willie Win JW. owned by Mr. G. Pearce and Mr. D. Francis.





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