Eukanuba, UK style …
When talking about “The Eukanubas,” most people’s thoughts would turn to an event previously well known in the U.S. … But this time it’s the Brits’ turn, as they celebrated a weekend of top dogs and puppies in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside in middle England.
The event is a culmination of a series of stakes classes held back in 2022 for champions and puppies. The competition has been running in one form or other for many years, even going back to internationally famous judge Stanley Dangerfield, who organized the Pup of the Year with a national newspaper in the U.K., The Daily Express, back in the ’60s. Stanley was a regular visitor and judge at many shows in America. The show titles were picked up by Pedigree for many years before they dropped out of the show scene, but happily Eukanuba now stages this prestigious weekend.
Nowadays the show is staged in a hotel complex not far from the NEC in Birmingham, home of the world-famous Crufts dog show, which takes place in March 2023. The event is seen as a high point in the year for dedicated breeders and exhibitors, and it is an accolade to be one of the finalists, never mind the overall winner.
Judge Mike Gadsby assesses the final puppy lineup.
The set-up of the show starts very early on Saturday around 5 a.m. due to the venue being in use the Friday evening before. A very experienced crew quickly swings into action to create the “pink vision” that greets people entering the hotel suite at Chesford Grange, which has been an ideal home to the finals for a number of years.
Phil Davies is the breeder manager for Eukanuba at all the U.K.-based shows and is very much the key man for the event. Phil, from Wales, is a very experienced breeder of Terriers and will be well known to anyone involved in Kerry Blues and Welsh Terriers, to name but two breeds.
Prizes all laid out, rosettes looking in the pink, music playing in the background and the OUR DOGS team ready to livestream, it was soon time for ring stewards Ann Bliss and Ernie Paterson to gather the finalists for the Puppy Stakes to open up proceedings. Both stewards have been very involved in the main ring at Crufts each year.
A double-handled commentary this year with Jonathan Daltrey and Jenny Shorer Wheeler, also a Crufts commentator, gave a lot of in-depth information on each competitor, and then we were off and running, with Phil Davies escorting the first of our judges into the pink carpeted ring.
TOP OF THE PUPS!
The stars of the show are of course the dogs, so let’s take an in-depth look at our winners.
First award of the day, under “surprise” judge Mike Gadsby, was the Pup of the Year … the judges are not revealed until the day of the event, which adds a little bit of mystique to affairs!
Mike Gadsby and Tom Isherwood, well known in the States for their Poodles and Afghan Hounds.
Taking the top spot in the hotly contested puppy stakes under Mike of the famous Afterglow show kennel, and an exhibitor who has of course had big successes in the Pup of the Year events down the years, was another exciting young big winner and indeed a popular young exhibitor: Faye Bevis piloted the Akita male Ch. Stecals All Guns Blazing to come out on top. Gunner had just recently taken his eighth CC along with Best of Breed at Manchester under international judge Jill Peak of the Bayard Beagles. He was also Best Puppy in Show at South Wales 2022 under Tom Isherwood.
Faye was handling here for herself and co-owners Carol Bevis, Rachael Corr and Keith Venezia from the U.S., and at just 15 months old the Manchester win was Gunner’s seventh group placing; he was the Utility Group winner at Belfast last September under Robin Newhouse and at the same event he was Martin Sanders Best Puppy in Show on a great day for the team. At BUBA this year he took his sixth CC, this under Shaun Watson from Cyprus, well known for his involvement in Dobermann Pinschers and Kerry Blue Terriers, and then went on to take Best in Show under breed specialist Meg Purnell Carpenter.
Of course, many people were watching from around the world of dogs by following the OUR DOGS exclusive livestream for the whole of the show and later from the evening gala dinner. Thousands of dog people tuned in from the U.K. and Ireland and many other parts of the world as far afield as U.S., Brazil and Australia!
Taking the runner-up spot in the pups was the Papillon female Selena for Glenn and Irene Robb, who had come through from the heat at SKC. Ch. Gleniren Daddy’s Starmaker was the top-winning puppy for all breeds in 2022, which in itself is a great achievement and just shows how hot the company was in the puppy final. Selena was Toy Group second at Boston in January under Andreas Schemel and finished her year for Glenn and Irene as the top Papillon with 13 CCs and eight Best of Breed wins; she has three Best Puppy in Show wins at Bath and Leeds and one at group level at UK Toy as well as one RBPIS at Paignton, and she is the youngest champion in the breed for 43 years. A remarkable record for one so young.
Third spot overall was Carol Foster’s Briard male, Fosterbrie Just Unique. Ethan has had an impressive puppy career, topping the Eukanuba Puppy Stakes qualifier at Three Counties under Richard Kinsey, and he was the overall runner-up at Bath, along with figuring well in numerous puppy groups at championship level. He took his first CC in November, and Ethan was handled at the finals by Phil Rogers.
Final and fourth spot in the Puppy section was the Whippet male Creme Anglaises Just Julian with Silkridge, who was part of a duo that Colette Perkins had the joy of handling on the day. Owned by Roger and Colette Perkins and Kris Van Der Schaaf and bred by Jan Willem Akerboom, Jules was sent through from the Blackpool qualifier by Melanie Raymond of the famous Dialynne show team. He has won two puppy groups at Championship show level, Best Puppy in Show at East of England, has one CC and three Reserve CCs, and also took Group 4 at Blackpool. Another exciting youngster for Colette and the crew.
CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS
Taking the crown of winner of the Eukanuba Champion Stakes Final Overall under Stuart Plane was the Top Dog All Breeds 2022, the famous and popular Charlotte, the top-winning Belgian Shepherd Tervueren. Nicky Mackie, Linda Lester and Sandra Smith’s Ch. Domburg Made by Hawksflight had such an incredible year in 2022 to capture that most special of titles. At Manchester she took her 28th CC to equal the bitch CC record.
Charlotte was Best in Show at Belfast Dog Show Society toward the end of September last year under Ernie Patterson after being sent through by Manchester Show Chairman Steve Atkinson and also at Darlington under Sweden’s Moa Persson … and what a great time she gave the team last year. She took Best in Show at the May Scottish Kennel Club championship show under Tan Nagrecha and followed up that award with the Pastoral Group win at Three Counties and was Best in Show at Bournemouth where David Cavill was the judge. At Richmond, she added another group success under judge Diane Mottram, where she also took the overall qualifier for the Eukanuba Champion Stakes final under Graham Hill. She is in double figures for group wins and has really done the breed proud. Great to see a lovely video recently circulating on the BBC website about Charlotte taking the Top Dog All Breeds crown and a super promotion for the breed. Well done, Nicky, Linda and Sandra on a truly fantastic achievement.
Runner-up under Stuart Plane was another of the U.K.’s most successful dogs of the last couple of years as Philip Langdon and his Standard Poodle male, Jake, Ch. Huffish Rewrite The Stars with Atastar, bred in Sweden by master breeder Charlotte Sandell, continued their fantastic success. Philip and Jake have been an incredible team over the last two years, with Best in Show wins at all-breed championship-show level, multiple breed specialty Best in Show wins across the U.K. and a campaign that has seen him reach the 30 mark in CC success. He took Best in Show wins in 2021 and 2022 at major shows on the calendar, and what a fitting way for him to end his 2022 campaign by topping the huge entry at LKA in December. He finished as the Runner Up Top Dog All Breeds 2022 to Charlotte the Tervueren. Another fantastic ambassadorial team for the breed.
In third place and continuing his successful series of wins and adding to his CV was the big-winning Border Terrier male Ch. Otterbobs Tolson for owners Jimmy and Hilary Gilpin. He was Best in Show at Border Union 2022 under judge David Guy. He was Reserve Best in Show back in January 2022 at Manchester under Welsh Kennel Club show secretary Graham Hill after his win in the Terrier Group under the late Dan Ericsson from Sweden of the world-famous Raglan Scottish Terriers. Another great breed ambassador doing well here.
Finally, fourth spot in the amazing line-up was the exciting French Bulldog, Abbie and Dean Cund and Alex and Linda Harrop’s popular young male Ch. Chelmbull Rocket Man, who added to his great list of achievements. It was recently at Manchester that Elton took his 28th CC with Best of Breed, and went on to take his sixth group-winner rosette to add to his previous Best in Show at Driffield 2021 as a puppy. Margaret Wildman of the big-winning Wildax Boxers, Bostons and Frenchies judged the Utility Group on that occasion. Elton was BOB at the FCI World Dog Show in Madrid and took his Spanish championship title along with the WW’22 title. He has numerous group placings along with the group successes, and his placings alone are up into double figures now. It was Dean who piloted Elton here at the finals.
All proceedings were completed by about 4:30 p.m., so plenty of time for people to relax and prepare for dinner as the set-up crew transformed the show arena into the evening surroundings. Vince Hogan, on behalf of Eukanuba, called out Jenny and Jonathan to receive a bottle of champagne from Phil Davies, and Jonathan in turn called up both winners, stewards and judges to receive thank-you gifts from Helen Blyde, marketing manager for Spectrum Brands. This was Helen’s second finals and she seems to be getting well into the swing of things —great to see people from “the brand” being so involved at show level.
The music played on and there were many photos taken around the tables as the hardy souls danced into the night. Talk at breakfast next morning was of a great day, a great event and how grateful we are in dogs for the support of a major sponsor in Eukanuba backing such an important event in the world of dogs. This fact is not lost on many people in dogs, not just in the U.K., but around the world as the economic situation bites and companies think twice before supporting or sponsoring shows.