dfs Crufts 2011 Show Report – Day 1 Thursday 10 March

Good evening and welcome to dfs Crufts 2011.  This year saw the world’s greatest dog show celebrate 120 years.  The day got off to a lively start with the Agility British Open Jumping in the main arena.  The clever canines showcased exactly why agility is the fastest growing dog sport in the UK.

After all that activity it certainly seemed like time for a well earned tea-break and slice of cake, which was provided courtesy of the Crufts Chairman and Show Manager, Gerald King and Vanessa McAlpine, cutting the Crufts 120th anniversary cake in front of the assembled press.  The press office was treated to double helpings of cake today with a tea party to mark the launch of A Grand Day Out, a series of charity dog walks in aid of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and the Wallace & Gromit Children’s Foundation.

The day had more than its fair share of heart-warming stories about courageous dogs overcoming adversity.  The crowds around the Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme ring were treated to a display of the ultimate doggy good manners by Zippy, the Boston Terrier, and his owner Vicky Tate.  Zippy was born deaf and has already achieved his GCDS Gold Award at the age of just 20 months, thanks to the patience and hard work of his owner Vicky. 

Meanwhile, over in the Arena the audience witnessed two police dog teams from Cumbria Constabulary - PC Hollier, with Police Dog Jasper, and PC Jones, with Police Dog Cain - being presented with the Police Dog Team Operational and Humanitarian Action of the Year 2010 Award.  Their team work, courage and professionalism during the search for Derek Bird was highlighted as being an excellent example of Police Dogs working in the most demanding of circumstances.

A celebrity buzz was also evident with the arrival of a certain Geordie duo to the Arena.  Ant and Dec were filming a secret challenge for their Saturday evening show Push the Button.  Unfortunately, we can’t reveal the results but it looked like good fun was had by both the humans and hounds.

Continuing the celebrity theme, doggy divas (and their owners) have the chance to get their hands on some rather special dog collars with the Kennel Club Charitable Trust’s Celebrity Dog Collar Auction.  The dog collars, which were donated by stylish dog accessory company Holly & Lil, have been designed and embellished by celebrities including Anthony Head, star of Little Britain and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Julian Clary.  All proceeds from the auction go to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, so if you’d like to get your hands (or paws) on one of these must have accessories, simply visit tinyurl.com/kennelclubcharitabletrust.

In the Breeders’ Competition, supported by Agria Pet Insurance, the Clumber Spaniels triumphed.  Judge Mr Christofer Habig had the task of judging the dogs of 24 top breeders and selected Kennel Club Accredited Breeders, Mr Paul and Mrs Hilda Monaghan of Tweedsmuir Kennels, who were visibly moved by their victory.

After the Breeders’ Competition, all eyes turned to the Gundog Display and Parade of Gamekeepers Finalists, followed by the Group Judging and Presentation.  Almost 5,000 dogs competing for the chance to go through to Sunday’s prestigious Best in Show had been whittled down to 31 Best of Breeds and Dr Ron James had the unenviable task of judging the Best in Group winner.  After careful consideration, Dr James chose Sh Ch Vbos The Kentuckian aka Jet, a Flatcoated Retriever, owned by Mr J M Irvine, South Queensferry, Edinburgh.

As dusk is falling and the first day draws to a close, our thoughts are turning to day two, when the Working and Pastoral Groups take centre stage and the competition will be on to see which two dogs go through to Sunday’s grand finale.

Immediately prior to Best in Show, the main arena will see the announcement of the winner of this year’s Friends for Life competition.  To see the wonderful stories of all five nominees, and to catch up with all the best action from the show, don’t forget to watch More4 every evening from 7 to 9pm.  You can also see more live action and highlights on the live internet stream at: www.dfscrufts.tv

Don’t forget that nothing beats the real thing, so why not come along to the NEC tomorrow and join in with this fabulous canine extravaganza.