Hello, and welcome to Crufts 2013 – the biggest and best celebration of dogs in the world. And possibly even in a galaxy far, far away one day if the rather incongruous space vehicle parked right outside the main doors to the NEC this year would have us believe!
We may not have any dogs from Mars or bitches from Venus entered this year, but many others have travelled a pretty long way to join in this great canine extravaganza. There are over 2,000 dogs from overseas entered into Crufts 2013, all hoping to follow in the pawsteps of a very local winner last year.
Coming from just down the road in Coventry, 2012 saw a Lhasa Apso called Elizabeth reign supreme and ’13 will undoubtedly be lucky for some. Over 5,000 dogs didn’t let a little rain spoil their parade as day one of this year’s show saw the Terriers and Hounds bidding for the right to represent their group in Sunday’s final.
First up in the Arena on Thursday evening were the Terriers, as Paul Wilkinson ran the rule over the day’s Best of Breed winners. He selected Ch Salena The Special One, a Skye Terrier owned by Sue Breeze from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, who lived up to her name as the special one dog to go through to the Best in Show final on Sunday from the Terrier group.
It then fell to Ben Reynolds-Frost to judge the Hound Group and he chose Ch Soletrader Peek A Boo, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen owned by Sara Robertson and Wendy Doherty, from Wallingford, Oxfordshire to fill the second spot in Sunday evening’s final. Jilly, as she is known at home, was Top Dog in all breeds in 2012, picking up numerous Best in Shows along the way and will be hoping to add the Crufts crown to her tally on Sunday.
Earlier in the evening, the Arena hosted the final of the Kennel Gazette Junior Warrant Winner of the Year competition. Jeff Horswell had to make the choice between ten of the country’s most promising pedigree dogs and he picked Sh Ch Wilchrimane Ice Maiden JW, a Pointer owned by Amelia Siddle which has already taken group honours at Championship show level and looks set for a big future.
During the day, the Arena played host to a wide range of activity, including the Freestyle heelwork to music competition which was won by Susan Betteridge with her dog Glenalpine Katie, the YKC Agility competition and the Kennel Club British Open Agility.
Away from the Arena, there was much for the thousands of visitors to enjoy, including a healthy dose of star-spotting. Canine royalty, Pudsey brought the only slightly less famous Ashleigh Butler back to Crufts once more as they signed copies of the autobiography for fans, and Merlin actor Antony Head was on the Kennel Club Library and Gallery Stand alongside reading dog Danny to listen to children read in celebration of World Book Day. Over on the Samsung stand, model, racing driver and dog lover Jodie Kidd made a special appearance in support of one of the show’s major sponsors.
With one day done and three to go, what does Friday hold in store? In the breed judging, it’s the turn of the Toy and Utility breeds and the Arena programme includes plenty of agility competition, heelwork to music and the first ever Scruffts final to be held at Crufts. And if you keep your eyes peeled then you might just spot a cycling and Strictly superstar along the way too. Come join us!