CRUFTS 2007 – Utility Group report.

So another hugely successful Crufts extravaganza is over and the countless numbers  of post mortems will be well under way earning the communication systems companies lots of money!

One keeps thinking that Crufts just can’t get any better, but it does.  Certainly from my own point of view it  seems capable of embracing a much wider audience than ever before  and the main ring arena which seats 6000 people, was sold out, with of course millions watching on television.

My task was one of the joys  a lifetime in dogdom affords, if you are lucky!!  Being the group judge the breed judges labour all day to find what is , in their view, the best of the day and all I had to do was judge  one of each breed against the others in the Group.

I have to say that overall the quality of the dogs I had in the main ring was not of the  standard I have seen so many times in the past.

At this level type and sound action is paramount, but those qualities must be coupled to dogs which have  magnetism, star quality, instant appeal, even attitude,  call it what you will, if they are to impress in the green carpeted arena under the spotlights.

I was more than happy to short list the Akita , just a junior dog but one with a bright future.  Ruthdales Ready to Rule is a strikingly handsome dog, beautiful headpiece, tremendous substance excellent proportions and side on he is a powerhouse on the move.  Immaculately put down he just needs that edge maturity will bring.  The Dalmatian Ch. Dvojica Voodoo JW will always be a crowd pleaser.  Flawless in  presentation she is the showgirl supreme, ever on the edge of anticipation, tail wagging non stop and she circles the ring with a precision of stride which does demand attention.   The Apso  Khalila Isabella is of excellent make and shape, delightful headpiece, such a good neck, ribcage and tail set and was in gleaming coat.  I think just found the astro turf not quite to her liking when moving. The standard Poodle was from Sweden, Swed & Pol Ch. Huffish On Every Street is a black male with much appeal.  He has a really well chiselled head, lean but totally masculine with an excellent foreface and underjaw.  He has a fair length of neck, is big ribbed, short backed and strongly muscled aft.  Stands like a cardboard cut out and side on he is balanced and shapely.  I would have liked longer ear leathers on him. 


My final four were all lovely dogs and on another day the placings could have been altered, but it comes down to performance when it matters, doing everything right and really just asking to win!.

The Group 4 placing went to the Keeshond Sharp-Bales Ch. Neradmik D’Artagnan.    This exceptionally talented breeder has produced a string  of famous dogs over the years and has another top-notcher here.  I judged him in the breed once before when he won the CC but not BOB as he was being somewhat reluctant to do much on the move.  Having a “don’t really feel like putting all in” day and it cost him. Today he was much better!  He is a stunning dog to go over, excellent size and shape, beautiful front, so well ribbed, lovely bone and feet and as ever presented with every hair in place.  His head handles so well, a clean wedge, beautiful expression and he is  decidedly handsome.   Here he was foot perfect most of the way but in his final moving stint the edge and precision had just left him and in stance he was just that tad too reluctant with his ears.  But he has many big wins left in him.

G3 was a great favourite of mine, the black miniature poodle Ch.Minarets Secret Assignment.  Our paths first crossed when I made him Res BPIS at BUBA Ch show to the chow Ch. Follian Finesse.  Subsequently he was my BOB winner when I judged the breed at Crufts.  For me he is one the the very best miniature poodles we have had in the last 20 years.  Classic head, eyes and ears with a glorious expression.  That elegant head carriage, the correct front and ribcage , the fast disappearing poodle “dip”, well muscled hindquarters and driving action.  His young handler always has her charge in such fantastic coat and shape and he is most certainly a big ring dog.  Like the Keeshond he just pulled away slightly on the final run off which just took the edge of an otherwise outstanding performance from what – when he is doing everything right -  is one of this countries best showdogs.

G2 was a total newcomer to me and one I do not recall seeing before.   Ch. Ashencruz Allegiance to Denbrough is a p/s miniature schnauzer with the “it” factor in spades.  He simply charged in driving himself so purposefully around the huge Crufts ring with all the style and attitude one could wish for.  He handles so well, great headpiece of lovely length,  totally male yet oozing quality in expression.  The eyes sparkle and his ears are perfectly placed and carried.  Such good width behind the withers, short coupled, stunning backend and the whole dressed in a wirey jacket with good harsh furnishings.  On the move he is a pocket dynamo and when in show stance, his backline must draw the eye as he never let up showing for a second.   Not yet 2 he is another I would expect to see feature well in the big ring for some time.   My friend Mr. Brace was ebullient at the G2 as he apparently gave Allegiance his first CC – from puppy!

However, G1 belonged to the Tibetan Terrier  Ch. & Am. Ch. Araki Fabulous Willy owned by the Smith &  Shaw partnership.   Last into the ring he simply took over and owned it as his own from the moment the spotlights picked him out.  Contrary to rumour, I have never had hands on this dog before today, although I have seen him on many occasions – both winning and losing.  But I do not think I have ever seen him looking as well as he did here.  He is superb example of the breed to go over, almost square in outline and I just love that tad extra length in neck which gives his whole outline that robust yet almost elegant outline which flows then is enhanced by his tail set and that lovely bend of stifle to the firmest of hocks.  His head is a joy, the eyes and expression hard to resist then add coat presentation of gold medal standard.  

Finally there is his smooth striding, totally effortless, almost gliding stride as he circles the ring showing a deceptive amount of ground cover. He holds his shape and is totally at one with his handler every step of the way.   The sum total is a dog at the peak of his form and such form I just could not resist.  He had to beat some stunning dogs to win this Group but he proved himself even more when taking the eye of BIS judge Zena Thorn Andrews to take the coveted BIS award.  So he joins the ranks of the greats and will fit well alongside all of them.

Finally, thanks to Crufts for another great show.

Albert Wight (Judge)