Flyball is always a very popular activity to watch at Crufts, it takes place in the main arena with competitions running throughout the show. We caught up with Steve Leek, Flyball steward at Crufts, to find out more about the discipline.
Learn more about Flyball here
Flyball is such a fast and exciting discipline, but it must be quite a task to make sure the obstacles and courses are set up in time for each competition when they take part in the arena at Crufts. How long does it take you and is there a lot of measuring going on?
The actual set up on the days of the competitions is quite quick, approximately 10 minutes. The reason for this is that we do a lot of preparation work in advance. We lay the matting down on the Wednesday and measure out the lanes and set up all the arena lights to help us position jumps etc. The matting is then rolled up so all we need to do on the competition days is unroll it and secure the matting down. Similarly with the lights they are mounted on a trolley so that all we need to do is set up the gates, connect everything together and we are ready to go.
How do people qualify to take part in the Flyball final at Crufts?
There are eight qualifiers spread around the country. To qualify you have to come first or second in any of these qualifiers. The dates for qualifiers for 2020 Crufts can be found at https://www.ukflyball.org.uk/crufts/
Being such a team discipline, would you say lots of really strong friendships are made?
Very much so, there are two major Flyball associations outside of Crufts that teams compete in, UKFlyball League and the British Flyball Association, Crufts is the time that teams from both associations come together and compete together. The atmosphere between the teams is excellent with everyone helping each other out.
How many teams will be competing at Crufts?
16 teams compete, eight on Thursday, eight on Friday, with the top four teams from each day moving on to Saturday and finally the top four competing in the final on Sunday.
How much work goes into sorting out the competition at Crufts?
Normally for me there is not a lot to do prior to the event but the Kennel Club has asked the UK Flyball League to take over the running of all of the qualifiers for 2020 from Crufts onwards so I have been very busy rewriting the qualifier rules and will have a busy 2019 supervising all of the qualifiers.
Have you a favourite ever Flyball moment?
The whole of 2015 when, one of my best friends Tony Hodge was invited to judge the Flyball, it was something he has always wanted to do, sadly he passed away shortly after. Apart from that I have many many happy moments, generally when things go wrong and amuse the audience.
Have you a favourite ever Flyball team to watch?
The Nuneaton Flyers. They have been involved in Crufts Flyball forever and have won many times, even during years that there team has not been at its best - shows experience counts!