We caught up with Gavin and Sara Robertson with 2013 Crufts Best In Show winner Jilly,(Ch. Soletrader Peek A Boo) to find out what their secret for success is.
Gavin’s top tips for dog showing newcomers:
- It's a hobby and you must remember that and enjoy it, you meet lots of people from all circles of life.
- Do your homework find the breed that suits you. Then don't be afraid to ask millions of questions to learn as much as you can, you need to know what you have at the end of the lead, not all dogs are great show dogs.
- Accept your wins and loses gracefully, and remember Rome wasn't built in a day!
When and how did you get into dog showing?
I went to my first dog show when I was 8 years old with a Beagle. My parents were interested in dog shows so we started as a family, I got the bug really quickly and started with junior
handling to get experience, but quickly after started showed my mums Beagle.
Do remember the first time you went to Crufts?
Yes it was at Earls Court in London and it was magical! We went for the whole weekend and I loved it! It was at that first Crufts that I had a dream to win Best In Show
Tell us something no one else might know about you and Jilly!
Before we went into the ring I would find a quiet place with her and I would talk to her, we have a great bond with each other. At Crufts I would say to her that this was the last time we would ever be here so enjoy and give it her best shot. I did that before the class, then the CC then the group and then on Best In Show night. Silly I know, but I'm superstitious so didn't want to stop once I started it.
What did you do to celebrate your Best In Show win?
We had a party until 4am at the hotel then I did a radio interview at 5.30am and the day never stopped from then onwards. We then had a wonderful party with friends at the Kennel Club a few weeks later. I will never forget it all.
What’s the secret for winning Crufts?
I don't know! All I know is once we realised Jilly was going to be a special show dog we made sure we had her in the best condition ever, with lots of exercise, good food and keeping her in good coat. And I wanted to win more than anyone else. It really was a dream come true. At the end of the day it is the judges choice so you must have a good dog to start with.
Who is your all time Crufts Best In Show favourite (other than Jilly of course!)
That's a tough question as we have seen many great dogs over the years. The Kerry Blue, Torums Scarf Micheal was an amazing dog as was Yogi the Vizla, who had won everything there was except Crufts so it was fitting he did it finally. I must never forget the charismatic Standard Poodle,Topscore Contradiction. He took over every ring he entered and when he behaved he was the ultimate show dog.
You have been raising money for charity ever since your win. Tell us more about that.
We wanted to give the dog show world some much needed positive publicity and came up with an idea of a charity walk. We walked 140 miles in June from Birmingham to London down the grand union canal walk. We had over 75 other walkers and dogs doing 5 mile sections whilst myself and Amelia Siddle walked the whole way. We raised £49,000 for great Ormond St Hospital, DOGLOST and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. Something we are extremely proud of as well as all those who took part.
What has Jilly been doing since her win?
Jilly officially retired after Crufts, it's the pinnacle of any dog’s career, so in June she took part in the charity walk, in September she had 2 puppies and in December she makes her final appearance at the Eukanuba World Invitational Challenge. She is a house pet and will always be one in our house.
Other than Crufts, what is your favourite show to exhibit at?
Sara and I both like Welsh Kennel Club, Border Union and Windsor, always seem to have a relaxed atmosphere, good weather and have been lucky shows for us in the past.