Crufts Bitch Obedience Championship 2016

By: Susan & Gemma Henshaw

From a spectator’s view

Early Saturday morning and an easy drive up from the hotel today, thankfully not much traffic around so straight into the car park at the NEC then we hop on one of the coaches that deliver you virtually to the door. We make our way to Hall 5 and meet up with a few friends, hand out some good luck cards, grab the customary coffee and take our seats ready for today’s competition.

We settled down just in time for the entrance of the judge and her ring party promptly at 8.40am, they stood to one side of the ring and the parade of this year’s competitors got underway, quite a good crowd already in the stands which is usual for the weekend. As each handler and dog enter they receive a warm welcome. Introducing them and giving details on where they won their tickets is our announcer Gerard Paisley.

The announcement that Crufts is officially opened comes over the tannoy at 9am and then Gerard introduces today’s judge Stella Henstridge, he gives a short round up of her judging career, this is followed by the introduction of today’s ring party.

For today the judge is in a lovely pink and grey floral long line jacket paired with black trousers and a black top. The female stewards are in dark trouser suits with a red top and the male steward are in grey suits, pale pink shirts and a red tie, again colour co-ordinated and looking very smart.

The round is the same as yesterdays, the only difference being that the knitted dog for the retrieve article is pink.

Coming into the ring at No.2. we had Katy Girdler and ‘X Factor Jenna At Pashamatts’ a confident start in the heelwork, just a slight overturn on the first left but the dog settled into a tight position on the small circles. The slow pace was very well measured with neat footwork from the handler and the dog held her attention throughout. The handler made a small error and went the wrong way going into one turn but overall the heelwork just flowed. The transitions between the paces were instant and the dog’s position remained steady, this team work with a very natural style and complement each other well. The distance control was performed with ease, the dog’s attention totally on the handler and the positions were very neat, marked clear.

Entering at No.4. was Jenny Gould and ‘Zakanja Beewyched’a nice start to the heelwork and a good first ASSD position, very neat in the pick-up back into heel, some turns were a little untidy with the dog not coming out of them in a straight line. The slow pace was very controlled and worked with a measured pace, the dog holding super attention. The footwork from the handler and dog on the semi circles was very neat and the fast pace was carried out at a good stride, perfectly suiting the dog.  The send away saw the dog go out quickly, straight through the front markers to an instant drop in front of the back marker a patient wait and then straight back into a tight heel position on command.

Next into the ring was Jane Bint and ‘Ob Ch Janjoy Jumpin Jaro’ a very confident start in the heelwork and the first left turn saw a lovely movement round the turn by the dog, very neat and precise work through the small circles with total concentration from dog and handler. All the ASSD positions were instant on command with well-timed pick-ups back into heel. The double turns were very tightly worked but the dog almost sat on an about turn in the slow pace. All three paces showed a well-defined stride from dog and handler, a superb round to watch. Onto the retrieve and the dog went out at speed, a slight scoop as she picked up the article then returned to a good present and finish.

Coming in at No. 7 was Marie Cartwright and ‘Ob Ch Dodgin Firecracker’ after a solid round of heelwork onto the retrieve, the dog went straight out on command but messed around as she tried to pick up the article, managed to get a good hold on it and returned to the handler and a straight present. Next was the send away and the dog went out at a good pace but started to slow as she went past the front markers she then dropped into the down position just in front of the back marker, an attentive wait, then on command a fast run into a neat pick up to the heel position. They finished their round off with a superb textbook distance control exercise, marked clear.

Entering at No.8. we had Suzy Tooley with ‘Everush Olympic Flame,’ as they set off in the heelwork the dog gave a couple of quick sneezes but held her position and attention. The ASSD positions were carried out accurately with the dog picking up neatly back into the heelwork. The footwork on the small circles and the half circles was evenly paced from both handler and dog. Transitions between the paces were excellent and the fast pace flowed with precision on the turns.  The retrieve next and the dog went out at a good pace, picked up the article very carefully and returned to the handler, just slightly off centre in the present. Onto the send away and a fast out run straight through the front markers with the dog dropping into the down on command just to the right hand side of the back marker. A fast run into the heel work position applying the brakes just at the right time.

Following them into the ring was Jane Moran and ‘Ob Ch Dusters Done ‘N’Dusted’ the heelwork started well with the dog’s attention fully on the handler, the pace round the small circles was well measured and the transition down to the slow pace almost instant. A very active fast pace with position and attention held well on the turns, all the ASSD positions were performed accurately. Onto the retrieve and the dog went out to the article picked it up carefully and returned to the handler going into a straight present and tight finish, marked clear. Unfortunately, the send away was costly, the dog went out steadily then slowed and dropped into the down on command just by the front markers, she went into a tight heel position on the call up.

Coming into the ring at No.11 was Mary Vessey and ‘Ob Ch Fenellark Charleston’ a popular team here today, the dog holding a consistent position in the heelwork with her attention fully on the handler, the fast pace flowed and the turns were very neat and precise. The footwork on the small circles and the half circles was excellent from both handler and dog, really working as one. In the send away we saw a very fast out run straight through to the back marker, where she went into the down instantly on command, waited with full attention on the handler then up instantly on command and into a well braked heel position.

There was a small flurry of excitement as people noticed that Prince Michael of Kent and his wife were paying a visit to the obedience ring and they stood for a short while near the entrance to the collecting ring as the event was explained to them.

Into the ring at No.16 was Karen Davies and ‘Ob Ch Stillmoor Celtic Banner’ and after a good heelwork round onto the retrieve and the dog went straight out on command, a slight scoop up of the article, turned quickly and back into a very good front present and a close sit at the finish. The send away saw a very fast outrun from the dog but the handler called the position a little early and the dog dropped into the down about a body length in front of the back marker, a good pick up followed and the dog went into a nice heel position. The distance control was lovely, full attention on the handler and almost instantly into position on the commands.

There was a break for lunch and the chance to have a walk round the stands in some of the other halls before returning to our seats in time for the presentation in the ring of the DTW Top Dog Award and this year’s winner was Kathy Russell and ‘Ob Ch & WT Ch Ruskath Othentic Image TDex’, with a total of 383 points. The reserve went to Mary Ray and ‘Ob Ch Colliewood Blue Jeans’ on a total of 343 points. Well done to both ladies and their beautiful dogs.

At 1.15 the competition resumed with just three dogs left to work. Coming in at No. 18 was Malcolm Webster and ‘Borderlair Squiff It Is’ a good position to start with but a little untidy on the first multi turn, but with very calm unassuming handling from Malcolm the dog gained in confidence as the round progressed and they gave us a beautiful display of heelwork. There was superb concentration in the slow pace and an instant change up a gear into the fast pace, which flowed and showed lovely control especially on the turns. The ASSD positions were accurate and the transitions between the paces were very good. Just as they neared the end of the heelwork round and going from normal to fast pace the dog misread a movement and dropped into the down, Malcolm calmly called her back into position, which took her a few seconds to regain and they carried on to the end of the work.

Last to work today was Kathy Russell with ‘Ob Ch & Wt Ch Ruskath Othentic Image TDex’, after an excellent heelwork round that saw them lose just 10 ½ marks, the best of the day, onto the retrieve and a quick run out to the article which she picked up with ease, turned and straight back to a very well positioned present and tight sit at the finish. Then the send away and the dog went out at pace on a straight line to the back marker, an instant down on command and an attentive wait until the call out then a fast run back into a tight heel position. Finished the round with the distance control exercise, as the handler left the dog in the stand position and moved off the dog took a small step sideways, and as she did the positions she also did small sideways movements, losing 2 for this exercise.

We have noticed looking around the stands that the free seats have been gradually filling up and the audience have been most appreciative of the work we have seen here today unfortunately the seats that have to be paid for still have spaces.

Then the teams enter the ring for the stay exercise, the first stay is the 2 minute out of sight sit and all the dogs complete this exercise. Then straight into the 10 minute out of sight down stay and just as the handlers leave the ring Jodi Lunn’s dog ‘Longhalves Fast ‘N’ Furious’ moves into the sit position then almost immediately Jane Bint’s ‘Danni’ decides to sit up and have a good scratch, gives out a little bark then lays back down. Costly for both teams.

Onto the last exercise of the competition, scent. The same pattern as yesterday, with one male and one female decoy.

Coming in at No.2 was Katy Girdler and ‘Jenna’ the dog went out to the scent area at a very slow steady pace going straight to the right cloth, picked it up neatly and returned to a good front present. Following them into the ring was Pat Watson and ‘Ob Ch Forever Magic It’s Flicker’ the dog going straight up the left hand side of the pattern, picked the right cloth up with no need to check any of the others and returned quickly to the handler

Coming in at No 5 was Jane Bint and ‘Danni’, a speedy check over all the cloths found the right one and turned to go back to the handler, a little bit of mouthing on the cloth as she returned, but a neat present and finish. At No 8 was Suzy Tooley and ‘Flame’ the dog going out to the scent area at a good pace, a thorough check over all the cloths but knew instantly when she found the right one.

Following them into the ring was Jane Moran with ‘Nellie’ this time we saw a dog that checked and then re-checked over all the cloths before deciding which one was the right one, then back into a good present and neat finish. Coming in at No 10 was Dot Watts and ‘Ob Ch Zygdann Rockin Frenzi’ a very fast check over the scent area a positive find on the right cloth and a fast return to the front present.

In at No 12 was Linda Rutherford and ‘Ob Ch Colliewood Confidential’ the dog going straight up the left hand side of the pattern, a quick check and re-check over most of the cloths, a good find and neat pick up of the right one and back to the handler, a very confident scent. Karen Davies and ‘Lolly’ were in at No 16 unfortunately the dog did not go out on the first command and Karen quickly gave her another command, this time she went almost straight out to the right cloth, stood and looked back at the handler, picked up the cloth and back into a good present.

Malcolm Webster and ‘Squiff’ entered at No 18, a quick search over a couple of cloths by this dog, a positive find then back into a very square front present and neat finish, a lovely scent and marked clear. In at No 19 and the last team to work was Kathy Russell with ‘Oddi’ another dog that worked straight up the left hand side of the cloth pattern, found the correct one straight away, picked it up carefully and returned, losing just ½ mark.

As the ring was cleared many of the audience realised that we had two teams on the same mark and sharing the lead, they were Suzy Tooley and ‘Flame’ and Kathy Russell and ‘Oddi’, so we knew that there would be a full round run off to decide the winner of the Championship.

Gerard announced the run off and also added that we had two teams tying for the 6th place and they were Pat Watson and ‘Flick’ and Linda Rutherford and ‘Neon’, this place would be decided by the two teams repeating the retrieve exercise.

So after a short break whilst the original round was set out again the final thrilling stages of today’s competition got underway and we saw Suzy, Kathy and their dogs trying their best once again on the green carpet. Then Pat, Linda and their dogs came back in for the run off for the 6th place.

By 3.40 the championships had finished and there was a short break, just time for a quick stretch of the legs whilst the stewards cleared the ring and then set out the place boards ready for the presentations.

We all settled back in our seats as the judge and her ring party came back into the ring and took their place along the left hand side for the final time. Then the music of ‘We are the Champions’ started up and the teams paraded round the ring to a brilliant round of applause and cheering from the audience.

There was a presentation to the judge and a thank you to her ring party, Stella Henstridge had put on a very interesting round, just testing the dogs on all exercises without being excessive on anything. Her ring steward, Jacky Roddick had been one of the best we have seen here over the years, very calm, totally in charge of the ring, making sure she moved slightly nearer the teams when she was giving directions as the tannoy came on, so no one missed anything.

Then the announcement that we had all been waiting for – the winner of Crufts Bitch Obedience Championship 2016 was Suzy Tooley and her newly crowned ‘Ob Ch Everush Olympic Flame’ and as they made their way across the green carpet to the First place board they were greeted with a huge round of applause and loud cheering. A very happy winner.

Then Kathy Russell and ‘Ob Ch & Wt Ch Ruskath Othentic Image TDex’ came forward into the reserve place and once again the crowd greeted them with very loud applause and cheers.

Third place went to Philomena Barnes and ‘Ob Ch Bheinn Bewitched’, fourth place to a delighted Katy Girdler and ’Jenna’, fifth place to Marie Cartwright and ‘Dazzle’ and finally sixth place to Pat Watson and ‘Ob Ch Forever Magic It’s Flicker’, and as Pat made her way across the ring Linda Rutherford playfully threw her pink dog toy at her, which made everyone laugh. All the teams were greeted with enthusiasm by the audience as they came out to the place boards.

After the presentations of the trophies, prize cards and rosettes, the rest of the competitors left to a superb round of applause and then the ring was taken over by the photographers and media. So the end of the two championship classes, and this year we have seen so many superb teams, definitely the cream of the crop.

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