Clare Balding will be returning to host Crufts on Channel 4 this year. We caught up with her to chat about Crufts and what makes it so special to her. For the full interview see the Crufts Show Guide, out on the first day of the show.
What is it that makes Crufts so special to you?
I love being surrounded by dogs and dog lovers. It’s also a never ending opportunity to learn more about all the different breeds. Every year I meet different people and dogs, find out something new, discover some amazing veterinary breakthrough and I love that.
Have you a favourite moment throughout your time presenting Crufts?
Having puppies with me on the sofa is always a joy as you never know what’s going to happen. If I can have a dog on my lap or at my feet for every link, I’m happy. I also enjoy exploring Discover Dogs, meeting dog lovers, finding out more from knowledgable breeders and of course doing a little bit of shopping on the side.
Do you have a favourite part of Crufts, i.e. talking to best in show/group winners, meeting people whose dogs have changed their lives in friends for life, agility, stories from around the show etc?
I love the drama of Best In Show and by the Sunday night I’ve met and interviewed all the group winners so I feel as if I know them. I get nervous for all the dogs beforehand, hoping they’ll show themselves at their very best. I also love meeting the young handlers who are just starting out and I particularly like hearing people’s stories about how a dog has changed their life for the better.
Tibetan Terriers are obviously your favourite breed but do you have any other breeds you have a special fondness for?
I grew up with Boxers and I’d have to say nothing beats a Boxer for sense of humour. They are such cool dogs with a wonderful ability to see the ridiculous in every situation. No Boxer owner is allowed to take themselves too seriously.
You now know pretty much everything and anything to do with dogs, is there anything that still amazes you about them?
There is still so much to learn and I find their relationship with us humans pretty fascinating - what they can sense and how they can help us. I think our closeness with dogs is integral to our existence and I think they probably know more about us than we do about them.
Have you got a favourite Crufts best in show?
- I’m not meant to have favourites, but I got very emotional when Araki Fabulous Willy won in 2007. Our Tibetan Terrier Archie is his grandson and we had him for three years when Willy won; it was like watching one of the family triumph on the biggest stage of all!