Eukanuba Finals ... UK Style
Throughout the U.K. show season, two of the most prestigious competitions for exhibitors involves both champions and the rising stars, the puppies.
Eukanuba now runs both these competitions at all-breed general championship shows each year ... the Eukanuba Champion Stakes and the Eukanuba Pup of the Year.
Despite the continued chaos caused by the Covid outbreak, at least some shows actually did take place in the U.K. during 2021. That allowed qualifying rounds to take place from June, when dog shows recommenced in Britain, right through to the Ladies Kennel Association show in mid-December.
Prior to Covid, the U.K. show scene has a series of all-breed championship shows running throughout the calendar year. At all of these main events, the Eukanuba Stakes take place on a daily basis, with all the day winners returning on the final day to determine the heat winner, who then goes forward to the Finals weekend … all expenses, I might add.
Same system for champions as well as puppies.
In actual fact, in 2021 because of the affected show calendar, both the first- and second-placed dogs became finalists to make sure of the numbers and a high standard of competition.
All finalists received a lovely personalized head study.
So, that’s here we got there, and of course big congratulations go out to some stunning winners at the highly successful Eukanuba Stakes Finals weekend, held once more at the centrally located Chesford Grange Hotel complex near Kenilworth … about a 20-minute drive from the NEC in Birmingham, home of the world-famous Crufts dog show.
“Magnus and Quintus” almost sound like two Roman gladiators, but they both beat all the competition to reign supreme at these eagerly awaited finals! Everyone agreed that the two judges had a very tough job in choosing winners in such strong competition. Anne Macdonald and Tom Mather had been “kept under wraps,” so to speak, but had emerged as the judges elect for the two finals.
The event was back again at its familiar home near Stoneleigh; the venue is ideal, and the room hosting the dog ring doubles up to become the location for the evening dinner and presentations.
As the venue was in use on Friday, the event was set up by the events team from “Splash” very early on Saturday morning … like 4 a.m.! However, when exhibitors started to arrive, the room was bedecked in familiar Eukanuba pink and looked a picture. The popular Eukanuba team members from the show scene were there, Phil Davies and Erica Greenwood. Unfortunately, Julie Hearsey could not attend due to personal circumstances, so Jackie Ward ran the “admin” table. Ring stewards were the redoubtable Ann Bliss and Ernie Paterson (stewards at Crufts), who guided the finalists through the day’s protocol. Marina White also returned to commentate for the afternoon, and many thousands of people worldwide benefitted from the livestream both on Eukanuba and through OUR DOGS extensive social media channels. Many viewers were from the U.S. and Canada, in fact.
From Eukanuba HQ the representatives were Steve Green and Trade Marketing Manager Helen Blyde … Eukanuba being owned by Spectrum Brands in Europe, having previous come under the Procter & Gamble umbrella.
First event of the afternoon’s program was the puppy stakes, and that went to a “hot” Smooth Fox Terrier that has taken the show scene by storm in the last 12 months or so.
Taking the crown of Eukanuba Pup of the Year under Anne MacDonald was Ch. Kanix Quintus, who also finished fourth in the Champion finale on a remarkable day for one of the most successful kennels of the modern era. Owned by Kari Wilberg and piloted by one of the U.K.’s most talented Terrier handlers, Warren Bradley, “Quintus” has been blazing a trail around the U.K. in 2021. He was top-winning Smooth in 2021, top-winning Terrier puppy and the number-two Top Terrier for the year. His tally of nine CCs is an impressive total for a youngster, and he also has 11 Best of Breeds at championship level. He was Best Puppy in Show on three occasions at championship level. He was Reserve Best in Show at Belfast Dog Show Society under Frank Whyte in October and Best in Show at the Fox Terrier Club of Scotland in November under Alan Johnston.
Down the years it’s probably a rare occurrence for a qualifier in both events to take such high positions, but this just shows how spectacular Quintus’ show career to date has been. His litter sister Ch. Kanix Quickstep was the top-winning female for last year, while the Kanix team were Top Breeders in the breed and their Pinnacle Amanda to Kanix was Top Brood in the breed.
Speaking afterward, an excited Sigurd Wilberg (originally from Norway), who was ringside to watch “Quintus,” said, “The Eukanuba stakes competition in 2022 will be written on one of the first pages in my memory book. Not only did Quintus win the puppy stakes, he was also fourth in the champion stakes and his kennelmate SH Ch. Kanix Petunia at Stargang was second under Tom Mather. SH Ch. Kanix News Flash at Glenfinnan was also among the 22 competitors. Many thanks go to the judge and to Joanne and Warren for their excellent handing.”
The Papillon U Knock Me Off My Feet Daydream Believers with Feorlig was the runner-up in the Eukanuba Pup of the Year Final, having qualified at Richmond back in September last year under Marion Sargent of the Tegwani show kennels. “Tuxedo” was imported from his breeder and co-owner Kathleen Roosens in Belgium by Kirsty Miller and Evan Ryan, and Kathleen is no stranger herself to big night successes, of course, having won BIS at Crufts with Dylan the Papillon.
“Tux” finished his year as Joint Top Puppy in the U.K. across all breeds for 2021 for the popular exhibitors, and he had a spectacular time in the rings during last year. He was Best Puppy in Show at Darlington, and also took the top spot in the Puppy groups at Paignton, Belfast and Border Union. Currently he has four CCs, two with Best of Breed and one Club show BIS. Certainly a record his famous dad “Dylan” would be proud of. The Feorlig team have a great record in the breed, and in fact they were crowned Top Breeder in the breed for 2021, and the queen of the Feorlig show kennels herself, Jenny Miller, was there to witness the excitement for the young owners.
“Tuxedo and Kirsty Miller did a fantastic job at the pup of the year final!” Kathleen Roosens added. “After being ranked joint number-one puppy all breeds, he now also became runner-up pup of the year in a stellar line up judged by Mrs. Anne Macdonald. No words can describe what proud breeders we are today! Thank you, Kirsty, Evan L. Ryan and Jenny Miller, for all your love and work with this beautiful butterfly!”
Says it all, really!
In the Frame
Taking a super third place under Anne Macdonald was another of last year’s big stars, the French Bulldog male Ch. Chelmbull Rocket Man, who was handled on the day by Dean Cund as co-owner along with daughter Abbie and Alex and Linda Harrop. Best in Show at Driffield at 10 months old under Dave Killilea, and this year already a Reserve Best in Show at Boston under breed specialist Paul Harding of the Pringham Bulldogs and Frenchies, having been sent through by Mark James of the Waterley Tibetan Terriers. He was Reserve Best Puppy in Show at Belfast under Ian Blackshaw last October, Reserve Best in Show at BUBA under Tim Ball, so all in all a real star for the coming year.
Fourth spot went to Helen Howard’s homebred Shih Tzu Tameron Mr Black is Back, qualified for the event at Belfast under Ian Gabriel and has since had a Puppy Group win at Boston in January. Brian won the CC and Best of Breed at Belfast under Margaret Mulholland.
Over to OUR DOGS photographer Ruth Dalrymple to record the moment for posterity.
We Are the Champions!
After a short break to reset the ring and replace the super-sized headshots, which are ultimately gifts for the finalists, Ann Bliss lined up the champions and gave instructions regarding ring entry and standing positions. Ringside seats were taken, Phil Davies escorted in our judge, Crufts Committee Chairman Tom Mather, and off we went again. Marina White introduced each dog with a short piece of information, such as pet name.
Phil Davies escorted judge Tom Mather to the ring.
What a tough task for Tom, who eventually gave a gentle nod in the direction of the highly successful Tibetan Spaniel Ch. Souska I Need Your Love. “Magnus” has been one of the stars of 2021 and had finished the campaign as Top Dog Runner up All Breeds, smashing records left, right and center.
At Southern Counties, where he topped off a special weekend with Best in Show under Jill Peak, he took the breed record, taking his 34th Challenge Certificate, and he currently has a remarkable 45 CCs. He was also Best in Show at East of England under Marion Sargent and Reserve Best in Show at Paignton under Jonathan Daltrey.
Bred by Ian Blackshaw and Daniel Roberts of the Souska Tibetan Spaniels, Magnus took two Best in Show awards at all-breed championship shows and has five breed club Best in Show wins to his name also.
He was the top-winning Tibetan Spaniel for 2019, 2020 and 2021. He was the top Tibetan Spaniel Puppy in 2017 so he has fulfilled all that great promise from his young days with Richard. Magnus qualified at Richmond under Marion Sargent of the Tegwani show kennels in September.
A shocked Richard speaking after the event said, “It was beyond my wildest dreams that Magnus would win over all the other Champion contestants. This was the first Eukanuba final that I have ever attended in the 30 years I have been in dogs, so off we went in two cars with Linda, Scot and his other fans. I don’t think I have ever felt so nervous. Not even knowing the format. I spoke to friends about it who just said, ‘Oh, you will love it.’ I was thrilled that he was shortlisted, so to win was utterly amazing. He has had a great following from breed enthusiasts, both in the U.K. and around the world. He has just been a wonderful boy to show. He just loves it. It was a heart-wrenching decision to retire him after this win, but I don’t feel he could do any more to promote the Tibetan Spaniel breed. He might make the odd appearance and then try his hand at Veteran in a couple of years’ time.”
Runner-up in the Champions Final was the Pointer SH Ch. Kanix Petunia at Stargang, who qualified for the event at the Blackpool championship show under Robin Newhouse. “Tuni” was one of two Kanix-bred Pointers who had qualified, SH Ch. Kanix Newsflash at Glenfinnan being the second. Handler on the day was Joanne Blackburn Bennett, who said, “What a wow day and night and still on high from the Eukanuba champion stakes finals; what a fab event – well done, team Eukanuba.”
Taking the third-place rosette was the Russian-imported Australian Shepherd, Melanie Raymond, John Shaw and Kerry Kirtley’s Ch. Brighttouch Drift the Line Through Dialynne. “Viking” was Reserve Best in Show at Darlington, where he also won the Eukanuba Champion Stakes Final qualifier, and he also topped the Champion stakes overall again at Manchester under Liz Stannard to take a ticket for the finals event next year.
Not a bad day’s work by Warren Bradley and the Smooth Fox Terrier Ch. Kanix Quintus for the famous Kanix team of Kari and Sigurd Wilberg as the star of the Pup of the Year Final took fourth spot. He qualified under Ian Blackshaw at Belfast Dog Show Society back in October of last year, where he was also Reserve Best in Show under Frank Whyte.
The Evening Event
Time for more photos and for folks to pack away the dog-show paraphernalia and don the glad rags!
Back to the main room, which was now bedecked in an array of pink balloons ready for dinner, speeches and presentations. Kennel Club Chairman Tony Allcock thanked Eukanuba as sponsors and reminded us all of the part they play in the world of dog shows, while Steve Green of Eukanuba also thanked all the finalists and those on the team who made the day possible.
Kennel Club Chairman Tony Allcock.
Phil Davies from the show team said the event was “a wonderful celebration and showcase of the U.K.’s great dogs, great breeders and great exhibitors. The heat judges must have been very proud of all their nominated finalists, that we all got to admire either in person in the room, or around the world online.”
Steve Green of Eukanuba, who is retiring this year, added, “This was my second time at the Champion stakes and Pup of the year finals. I didn’t think that the competition could be topped, but it certainly was this year. The competition was so high, I’m sure that the judges had to think long and hard to decide their winners. The memory I will take away from Saturday is how happy everyone was, how refreshing it is to get back to some sort of normality – thank you to all who attended and I wish you the very best for next year’s competition.”
Final word goes to Eukanuba Marketing Manager Helen Blyde, enjoying her first finals day:
“What a fantastic event to celebrate the well-deserved winners of Pup of The Year and Champion Stakes,” she said. “After a year of interruptions and cancelled events, it was great to see such strong competition from all the puppies and dogs. Thank you to everyone who came and joined in the show, and we look forward to seeing everyone again in March at Crufts.”
Yes, Crufts is back on again and is due to take place on the second weekend of March at the National Exhibition Centre. The entry details have just been announced by the English Kennel Club, and they show an understandable drop of about 4,000 dogs, down to just over 16,000 dogs … a not inconsiderable number by anyone’s standards.
The Covid factor plus issues with Brexit and travel all combined to reduce the international entry to less than 2,000 for the four days.
Yet one way or another, the old adage applies…
The show must go on!
Watch this space.