Looking forward to Crufts Championship Obedience 2014

By: Gemma Henshaw

So here we are once again, just under a week before a good many of us make our annual pilgrimage to Birmingham for Crufts 2014.

In Obedience we had a much better year, weather wise, in 2013 than in the previous year meaning that all scheduled Ticket shows went ahead, although at least one did have to re-schedule as a result of the weather, The ground for the Midlands BCC two day show and the Border Collie Club of GB’s one day show, was under a thick blanket of snow and the decision was made on the 25 March to cancel all three days, luckily they were able to re-schedule to the 15 September at Birmingham.

This year we have 23 teams qualified through to the Dog Championship day, surprisingly the same amount as last year, however we will see an extra 6 teams in this years Bitch Championship, compared to last years 16 qualifiers.

For the second year in a row the top winning partnership in the dog ticket class is Mary Ray with ‘Ob Ch Colliewood Blue Jeans’, matching their superb performance of 2012 and winning 10 tickets in 2013. As Mary and Levi won both the dog championships and the individual world cup title at last years Crufts, I’m sure a lot of people will be looking forward to them repeating that performance this year.

Making it a clean sweep for the Colliewoods the top winning partnership in the bitch ticket classes was Linda Rutherford with ’Ob Ch Colliewood Confidential’, winning a total of 6 tickets in 2013

Dog Championship

In this years Dog Championships there will be just 2 teams returning to work on the green carpet as new Obedience Champions. One of them is Julie Rowland’s with ‘Ob Ch Blue Eye Boy of Daislen’, ‘Pat’ made Julie wait right up until Birmingham & District GSD show in September before gaining his passport to Crufts and the much-coveted 3rd ticket. I understand that Julie will be retiring Pat at this years Crufts so I’m sure it will be a very special day for both of them.

The other team returning to Crufts as Obedience Champions are Jessica Lewis with her stunning Goldie ‘Ob Ch Pepsanner Atlantic’, ‘Tiggs’ won the first of two tickets in 2013 at the Welsh KC on 17 August in a round described by the judge Richard Kebble as ‘a display of what in my opinion is Obedience at its best’. Jessica well and truly topped the weekend off in style by winning the dog ticket the next day at Ditton DTC show with her other dog ‘Colliewood Casanova’, this dog has been so close to the win so many times and has now proved that he certainly can pull it out of the bag.

This win makes a total of 4 of the Colliewood line qualified through to this years Championships. Sadly the breeder of this fabulous line, Paul Anderson, passed away during 2013, but I am sure that all the Colliewoods at Crufts this year will do Paul proud.

A team making their debut in the Championships after previously representing Wales in the World Cup Competition is Michelle Dunscombe and ‘Forever Magic X Rated’, they made the trip to Halstead DTC show in August and won their ticket under judge Herbie Watson, who said it was a pleasure to award Mish & Mav their very first ticket. Mav always looks like he enjoys his work and that coupled with Mish’s clean, precise handling means that they could certainly be a team to watch at this year’s championship. Another team making their debut at Crufts this year is Mark Herrits and ‘Dodgin Master Markat’. They won their ticket at the GSD club of Wales show under judge Philomena Barnes. This team have a lovely relationship when they work which is clear to see, I am sure they will both enjoy their time on the green carpet.

One team to always look out for is Steve Frazer and ‘Ob Ch Gwynfair Classical Gas’. This partnership worked a superb round at last years Crufts, finishing 3rd overall and they followed this up by winning 3 tickets in 2013. Steve and Que won their first ticket of the year under judge Wendy Hughes at Leicester GSD in a round described by Wendy as ‘stunning’ with Que being ‘absolutely committed to his work and Steve in complete control’. Steve’s upright handling complements this dog’s attentive stylish heelwork

A team who continued their fine run of form at Crufts last year was Geraldine Steadman with ‘Ob Ch Nobite Defence of the Realm’. Geraldine and Jazz won the Crufts title in 2011 and gained the reserve in both 2012 and 2013, although Jazz did make Geraldine wait until near the end of the season for their win in 2013. I certainly wouldn’t bet against this team making it into the final line up for the 4th year in a row.

One team who qualified for this years dog championships but who will sadly not be competing is Jenny Gould and ‘Ob Ch Zakanja Bitter ‘N’ Twisted’. Jenny lost Chance on the 18 December 2013 at the far too young age of 8 years. A big, handsome boy he turned heads whenever he worked with Jenny in the ring, winning three ticket classes in 2013, the first win under judge Joe Game at Petersfield described as ‘set exercises almost perfect and the DC in particular was carried out with panache’. This was followed by a win at Newmarket under judge Kit Clow and the following weekend a win at Sats under Wendy Hagger who described them as ‘a pleasure to judge’. No one reading Jenny’s tribute to her beautiful boy could fail to have been moved to tears, a real partnership in every sense of the word. He will be missed on the green carpet this year.

Bitch Championship

Amongst the 22 teams competing in the Bitch Championship this year there are 4 new Obedience Champions. One of those teams had a fantastic season winning a total of 3 tickets and thus gaining their title and that is Jenny Gould and ‘Ob Ch Zakanja Little Creature’. Jenny and Chica won their first ticket under judge John Higgins at Halstead in a round described as ‘ pure class which displayed a high level of training proficiency’ and judge Rob Bint at the GSD Club of Wales show described them as working the round with ‘style, attitude, accuracy and class’.

One team making their debut this year is Jane Bint with ‘Janyjoy Jumpin Jaro’. Jane and ‘Danni’ won their passport to Crufts under Ian Watts at Cippenham DTC show in July. Jane’s smooth, consistent handling combined with Danni’s stylish and accurate heelwork should make this an exciting team to watch on the big day. Hoping to repeat their success of last year is Pat Watson with ‘Ob Ch Forever Magic It’s Flicker, Pat and Flicker followed up on their 4th place in last years Championships with another 2 ticket wins in 2013, one of these wins under judge Roy Page was described as having ‘one of the best rounds of heelwork seen in the class – sharp and smooth’. Pat and Flicker are always a popular partnership to watch and could once again be a team to look out for this year.

A team who had a very successful 2013 winning a total of 4 tickets was Karen Davies and ‘Ob Ch Stillmoor Celtic Banner’ This pair won their second ticket of 2013 at St Mary’s with judge Sheila Webster describing the round as ‘controlled handling with accurate heelwork’ With work like this they could also be a team to keep an eye on at Crufts.

A popular team on the green carpet this year will surely be Michelle Newman and the newly crowned ‘Ob Ch Myall Kanya Tri Again’, They earned their third win under Judge Sue Garner at Cheshire show, working in pouring rain they gave ‘heelwork to die for’, if everything goes right on the day they could well be vying for top spot

It would be impossible to write this article without making a special mention to Kathy Russell. Kathy has had many successes over the years in both Obedience and Working Trials, but this year, I believe that Kathy becomes the first person to have qualified 4 home bred dogs for the Crufts Championships. Kathy and ‘Ruskath Magical Image’ worked their first ever dog ticket at Winchester under judge Sarah Delaney and won their passport to Crufts that day. Kathy also had a successful year in the Bitch Ticket classes with ’Ob Ch Ruskath Portent Image’, ‘Ob & WT Ch Ruskath Othentic Image’ and ‘Ruskath Makana Image’, all qualifying through to this years Crufts and winning a total of 7 tickets between them. With Kathy’s recent successes at Crufts it would be hard to imagine a final line up without Kathy and at least one of her dogs in it.

As well as Kathy Russell’s 4 Crufts qualifiers, Linda Rutherford has also had a successful year in 2013 qualifying ‘Sixela Rumr Has It’ in the Dog championship and in the Bitch Championships, ‘Ob Ch Colliewood Confidential’ and ‘Lupitoonz Limelite’ who was described by one judge as showing ‘exuberance, power, drive and commitment’. With Linda winning a total of 9 tickets between her three dogs and with ‘Denim’ always putting on a classy performance on the green carpet it could well be a good 2014 Crufts for Linda.

So all that’s left for now is to wish all the competing teams Good Luck and we look forward to them strutting their stuff on the green carpet and giving us two days of the best in the country.

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