World Show Report
After many months (if not years), the World Dog Show 2020 finally took place in Madrid’s IFEMA showground 2022 – and with it, a new and unique situation was created, with two world shows in the same year. As part of an agreed collaboration between Spain’s kennel club, the RSCE, and the Kennel Club of Brazil, we will have another world show in the Americas in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this December.
You can be assured of a party atmosphere in Brazil if the activities on their stand at the WDS Madrid are anything to go by, with free cocktails and salsa dancing over the weekend!
In fact, the whole show in Madrid had that Mediterranean passionate feeling about it, typified by the final few hours in the main ring with opera singers, emotional thank-yous to the working team, flag handovers and a dramatic final judged by a man in a bright red and yellow suit! SHOWTIME for sure … and a fitting and enjoyable conclusion to a memorable event, as you will hear from a number of sources.
The show took place in a massive exhibition center on the outskirts of Madrid. Rings were in Halls 6, 7, 8 and 10, with the BIS ring and trade stands all in Hall 10. The excessive heat of the week before had abated, leaving us with very pleasant conditions and allaying the fears of many. The entry, although not the biggest for a WDS (around 8,000), was made up of many top-winning international dogs and could be considered very representative, despite all the trials and tribulations that had affected this particular event, Covid being the number-one offender.
The south entrance of IFEMA, the venue for the WDS in Madrid.
Thursday was a one-day show ahead of the WDS, the RSCE Winner event; often the case at world shows, the “national” show acts as a day for people to find their feet … both organizers and exhibitors. It can cause problems, though, packing so much into one day with all 10 FCI groups and the show-ground staff unaware of the deluge of overseas visitors arriving en masse! So there were some issues with parking (a lot of frustration, especially from people with large campervans), finding out what was on where, lack of printed catalogs (I hate them online!), not enough people speaking English (the international tongue for international dog shows) on the information stands (a common error at WDS and EDS events, as in Paris in April) and running late … and I mean late.
Also, a bit of a squeeze for the press people, who did their best to accommodate themselves on the front row of the Arion-sponsored hospitality area. Best in Show was around 10:30 p.m., when final photos were done. Phew ... a marathon for those who stayed (me included!) and eventually won by the Old English Sheepdog from Hungary (handled by Zsolt Hano), which eventually also took BIS 3 in the World Show and judged by a famous Spanish all-rounder.
THE WOMAN IN THE MIDDLE
Carmen Navarro was the BIS judge on Thursday for the National show. Carmen thanked all those involved in the show and particularly the RSCE for granting her the honor of being the judge in charge of deciding the Best in Show of the RSCE WINNER 2020; she had to make her choice whittled down from the thousands of entries and from the group winners sent through by her fellow judges.
“Thanks to all my colleagues for their great work in giving me magnificent specimens to judge at the BIS,” Carmen said. “I have felt very happy, and it has been a great honor and a great experience for me, I will always remember it and I am sure that these four canine days in Madrid will be fondly remembered by all of us for a long time.
“I will start first by saying that at the BIS of the RSCE WINNER I found that there was a line of high-quality dogs, so it was not easy to choose between such magnificent specimens. For me, the BIS-winning OES was a very well balanced and magnificently presented specimen, with beautiful expression and excellent pigmentation, the body is compact with correct proportions, very good bone structure, magnificent quality of hair, with typical movement and showing superior characteristics.
“I am very proud as a breeder, exhibitor and judge of the great cynophilia that we have.”
By Friday, the time of the WDS day one, people seemed to know their way around. Breed rings were excellent, well carpeted, lots of space around the rings for exhibitors, plenty of food concessions, a nice breeze blowing through the large doors. Even the parking situation had been improved. The main ring staged by P1 dog shows was efficient and hosted by two excellent speakers in Linda Volikorova (speaking English) and Maria Jose Haro Kay, who did the Spanish part.
Security started to ramp up as the days progressed … for two reasons. One, the Queen Mother Sofia attended the show on two separate days and was a most enthusiastic visitor. Secondly, the NATO conference was being set up for the following week in the same venue … cue searches, X-ray machines at certain entrances, drones, helicopters, security zones, etc. … you get the picture!
Numbers registered by IFEMA showed more than 12,000 breeders, 109 international judges and 16,500 registered dogs over both shows. This four-day show was visited by more than 55,000 people among participants, companions and the general public. This global competition was covered by most of the national television channels in Spain. A total of 145 journalists and 16 television media were accredited. The World Dog Show generated 1,650 mentions, of which 227 were international at the time of writing. A number of American exhibitors and visitors were in evidence around the rings. There was an excellent press room run by Julieta, and a lovely display and exhibition of Spanish breeds and history of the RSCE between Halls 8 and 10.
THE WDS WINNER!
Our overall winner on Sunday night was a smart Wire Fox Terrier who came from Italy with his bearded owner-handler who had enjoyed success in Paris back in April at the European Dog Show. “Uber” beat off the challenge of other top dogs, including the Crufts BIS winner, the Flat Coat, and also the Group 9-winning dog, the Tibetan Terrier owned by Richard and Linda Stark from the U.S.
Davide Valli, owner of the Wire, gave me an insight into his background and the exciting few weeks he has had at both the European Dog Show in Paris and now the World Show in Spain:
“A little over 30 years ago, my history with Fox Terriers began. Many dogs, many champions up to today. Talking about my Funfair Foxhouse, aka Uber, [he] was born in my kennel two and a half years ago. His parents are also bred by me. As soon as he was born, I fell in love with his really long and narrow head (a fundamental [requirement] in a Fox Terrier) at that moment I had already dreamed about his career.
“Growing up at home with me and my family, day after day I met all expectations without forgetting his wonderful character. ... And then came the European Championship in Paris this year with the second place at the Best in Show and then the fulfilment of the dream of every breeder and handler with the victory at the World Dog Show Madrid in 2022! It would be useless to talk about my dog, because for every owner their own dog is the most beautiful dog in the world, but today I can say that he really is!
“Our world championship began in the ring of Dutch judge Hans Van Den Berg with a lot of expectations, considering the very high quality of all the dogs in the breed. Winning the CACIB was a real liberation with the judge who, awarding me the first place, told me that now I could smile because I was World Champion. Then the play-off with the female CACIB, the BOB, the applause!
“In the pre-ring of the terrier group, so many dear, familiar faces but so much less tension; we joked and chatted ... then off into the ring, the judge looking at me and first place on the podium again! It was nice to see the face of group Judge Cristian Stefanescu (Romania) satisfied with the choice he made, and he kept congratulating me and I kept thanking him.
“The two days waiting before the Best in Show I must say … were not easy at all: Madrid sold out and a place to sleep that could not be found. Sunday afternoon, at the show, it was a beautiful day; right timing, friends from all over the world and my dog. Grooming is perhaps my favorite thing in the world, and getting Uber ready for the Best in Show was great: the perfect day!
“... and there was the time: the show starts again, all ready and ... off inside the ring.
“Judge Rafael Malo Alcrudo, dressed in Spanish colors and his light-hearted air, gave everything a relaxed and fun tone. I think it helped everyone to bear the weight of such an important ring. Many emotions in the ring, many expectations, huge desire to win. When I put the dog on the table, the judge wanted a light and friendly presentation. My Uber was just waiting to play, the judge was amused and suddenly I realized that it could be our day ... and here is the podium; the fourth, the third, the second and a dream that becomes true: BEST IN SHOW!”
Gopi Krishnan, president of the Malaysian Kennel Club, gave a perspective from the Asian side of the FCI, summing up the emotion of the occasion when he said:
“In a few weeks, months and definitely few years, we will all forget about the winners at the WDS in Madrid (with the exception of the winners themselves, of course). We will definitely remember it because of the extremely challenging circumstances, which led to a world show being held two years later.
“But I'm very certain that everyone present in that hall (and those watching it by livestream) will never, ever forget the moment when the opera singers stood up in the stands and started singing and made their way forward to the main ring! And if you felt that was not enough, the emotions were further heightened when the entire team responsible for putting on this WDS filled the main ring, to be honored and applauded for the hard work behind the scenes that we never see, but always enjoy!
“As I said, we will forget the winners, but we will never forget the emotion that was evoked during that special, classy, moving and apt emotional finale, to a world show that has beaten so many odds to finally take place. It gave me goosebumps and still does when I recall that moment, not only because it was so masterful and unique, but more importantly because it honored the unseen heroes who work so hard to ensure we have such world-class events that run without a hitch.
“Bravo to the RSCE and your WDS Committee, you have most certainly gone above and beyond by putting on this heart-warming act, to seal this WDS in our hearts forever!”
THE JUDGE’S PERSPECTIVE
When covering shows of this magnitude, it’s always important to hear from people involved in different aspects of the event. Paul Harding was the only English judge at the WDS, so it was interesting to hear his take on proceedings, especially as the group-winning Bulldog was sent through by him from the breed.
“I was delighted to be invited to judge at the World Dog Show in Madrid, this prestigious well-run show looking fabulous with lots of exhibitors and dogs from all over the world, having a wonderful layout with large spacious rings fantastic planning for the exhibitors and spectators,” Paul said. “The French Bulldogs did not disappoint, with a stunning puppy male awarded Best Puppy in breed travelling all the way from Maryland, U.S., Best Junior also winning the Junior Group was from Russia, and my Best of Breed travelling from England. The following day was the Bulldogs, also with a fantastic entry and quality in depth, my Best of Breed traveling from Peru, so masculine, oozing with breed type, moving out with ease – truly a group dog and going on to win the group and Reserve Best in Show.”
Paul mentioned a Russian dog, and in fact the organizers did allow entries from Russia, unlike Crufts earlier in the year.
The judges were all billeted in the Pullman and Novotel hotels, which were within walking distance of the show near the IFEMA showground. An enjoyable social gala party was held on Friday at a local golf club with traditional speeches from FCI President Tamas Jakkel and a heartfelt speech by Jose Doval, the president of the RSCE. Jose seemed to be on “cruise control” throughout the whole event, taking it all in his stride.
NOW, THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
From Madrid to Heaven – so said Rafael Malo Alcrudo, our colorful Best in Show judge, who gave me his personal views of the occasion and some insight into his choices for the top four slots.
Rafa said, “The WDS Madrid finally arrived, two years late but with everyone's dreams intact. Personally, it was an unforgettable experience for which I am very grateful to all those who made it possible: the people who trusted me; the exhibitors who came from so many different countries, and, of course, the colleagues who made it possible to finally enjoy 10 wonderful dogs and such a magical moment in the impressive main ring.
“The red and yellow ‘disguise’ was just a kind of joke to me and everybody, trying to take away a bit of the ‘solemnity’ that usually accompanies this kind of event. And since I am neither solemn nor formal and (considering my elderly age) quite iconoclastic instead, I decided to make that joke to my country fellows, with the colors of our flag. We Spaniards are not the people with the most self-esteem in the world, so probably to make such a ‘wink’ there and then made a lot of sense.
“But the only important thing was not a colorful suit but the magnificent dogs that arrived at the Best in Show. And as we all know, it's always easier and more rewarding to judge outstanding dogs than dogs of any other kind.
“And that's exactly what happened.
“The decision to select only four dogs out of so many exceptional ones was not easy at all, but decisions have to be made.
“Fourth place went to a wonderful female Dachshund, full of type and with an exuberant attitude in the ring. She had a perfect balance: shoulders, topline, croup and powerful, parallel gait, as well as excellent coat texture, undercoat and, last but not least, a correct format, but not as long as Christmas evening, as we often see.
“For third place I chose a magnificent male bobtail with great substance, compact, square and with excellent coat quality. His head was perfectly sculpted, his neck was spectacular, and his shoulders firm and well inclined, typical topline and broad hindquarters. And, of course, all accompanied by the typical pace of the breed.
“Reserve Best in Show went to a fabulous English Bulldog, full of type and dignity, absolutely sound and well balanced in all senses without forgetting such a noble expression in his extremely dark eyes. There was, in the middle of the ring, that genuine international star proudly showing the true essence of his breed.
“And finally, the Best in Show went to an amazing Wire Fox Terrier, full of type, glamour, instinct and stunning breed boldness. If we agree that a standard is like a song, with words and music, that Fox Terrier offered us words as beautiful as those written by Lord Byron and music worthy of Vivaldi but often with rhythm that Chuck Berry would have loved.
“In short, it was an unforgettable Best in Show line-up.
“At home, my family was watching Best in Show on TV as if it were the Champions League final. And yet, not everyone agreed with me. Particularly my 7-year-old grandson Tirso told me very seriously (from man to man, indeed) that he agreed with the big white and gray dog that looked like a giant teddy bear. But that the other dog that should have won was that one so particular, with very short legs, very long ears and melancholic look that had that uninhibited way of walking.
“After such serious criticism, I am now working to regain my grandson's respect. We'll see if I get it back …
“I think the only thing I should add is my sincere thanks to everyone: organizers, exhibitors, judges, stewards, journalists, photographers, friends in general, you have no idea how much I thank you for your generous support, your constant complicity and, above all, your inexhaustible patience ...”
SPANISH KENNEL CLUB
Back to the organizers, the Spanish Kennel Club, which co-organized the event with the showground people, IFEMA. The showground people dealt with things like the trade stands while the RSCE dealt with the canine aspects. The RSCE added their final words when writing to everyone who could have possibly been involved, saying:
“The RSCE and its team wants to give thanks, from the heart, to all of you who have made it possible for the WDS Madrid 2020 to be celebrated. Thank you, commissioners, judges, veterinarians, Arion (main sponsor) and other sponsors and supporters (Artero, Our Dogs). Thanks to journalists, photographers and camera people. Thanks to IFEMA, event co-organizer, cafeteria, cleaners and safety service. Thanks to all the visitors, especially to S.M. Queen Dona Sofia [below]. Thanks to all the exhibitors, breeders, to handlers and of course thanks to you, and more than 16,500 dogs that have shown their education and know how to be during the whole event. The WDS has been for and for you.”
Did they miss anyone?
We have the second WDS 2022 first in Brazil. The World Dog Show for 2023 will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, while the following year it is still listed for Ukraine. At the FCI General Assembly held prior to the WDS in Madrid, Helsinki and Milan won their joint bid for 2025 and 2026, respectively; both countries have staged very successful world events in the recent past and were a “shoe-in” to get the vote from the delegates
Party time to launch the World Dog Show later in 2022 in Brazil.
Looks like there will be more exciting and emotional world shows in the years to come, and for sure Madrid will live long in the memory for those who were there judging by the very complimentary social media comments for days afterward.
Congratulations are due to Jose Doval and his team, Anna Morgan (Born in the USA, as the song goes), Costa Augustus Fontan and all the team. Muchas gracias, amigos!