April 26, 2023

April 26th, 2023 Wednesday Wrap Up (Trial Review Tuesday, truffle hunting at Crufts)

Trial Review Tuesday
A few days ago, we asked people to share their trial runs with us so we could analyze them in the onForm app in a live webinar that took place Tuesday night, highlighting what they did well and why things went wrong. Sarah, Jennifer, and I each reviewed a run: a novice run, a Masters run, and an ISC run. It’s an eye opening look at how we analyze agility runs, and beginners especially will learn a lot. In case you missed it, here’s the replay: https://baddogagility.com/trial-review-tuesday-4-25-2023/

Attending Crufts as a spectator and/or competitor is definitely on my Bucket List!

Established by Charles Cruft in 1891, the Kennel Club hosted the world’s largest dog show March 9-12, 2023 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, England. More than 19,000 dogs attended the event, which included competitions in conformation, obedience, agility, flyball, heelwork to music, rally, and obreedience. Obreedience set off my spell check, but apparently it’s a 4-member team event in obedience where all four dogs are the same breed. There’s also various displays and demonstrations, including the Southern Golden Retriever Display Team, composed of 16 handlers and dogs working in concert.

Lagotto Romagnolo Wins Best In Show
I had never heard of the breed until a 4-year-old Lagotto Romagnolo named Orca (Am GCh Kan Trace Very Cheeky Chic) made history by winning Best In Show at Crufts after winning the Gundog group earlier. The Lagotto Romagnolo is an Italian water dog prized for its ability to find truffles, a seasonal, rare, and expensive mushroom. Orca is from Croatia and traveled 25 hours with handler Javier Gonzalez Mendikote and is the first of her breed to win at Crufts.You can watch the entire 20-minute Best in Show competition and presentation HERE.

[PHOTO]: Lagotto Romagnolo named Orca wins Best In Show, Credit: BeatMedia/The Kennel Club

Agility Results
Crufts hosts several different agility events that span all four days of competition. You can find complete results HERE. Events include: Crufts Singles (all heights), Crufts Championship (all heights), Crufts Novice Cup (all heights), Crufts Medium ABC, Crufts Large Novice ABC, Crufts Intermediate Novice ABC and Crufts Large Dog International Invitation. ABC stands for Anything But Collies, so you won’t see any border collies in those events. The four jump heights are small, medium, intermediate, and large. The large crowds and enthusiastic cheering as well as the live and subsequent media coverage add to the experience of the event.

Judge’s Shoes
Judge Nic Jones walked into the ring with flashy shoes and turned them off before the start of the Agility competition for the International invitational event.

British Commentary
I always find the agility commentary from Jim Rosenthal and Graham Partridge at Crufts both professional and expert. In this 4-minute video, veteran commentators Jessica Holm, Frank Kane, and Peter Purves discuss what makes a great commentator. “You don’t say what you can see, you say the other thing.” “You don’t want to state the obvious, because that’s irritating. You need to impart information, but you don’t want to be didactic.”

When you watch a Crufts agility event on YouTube, you understand that dog agility is a serious sport and not halftime entertainment like the Puppy Bowl. British commentators set a high standard for the sport. Perhaps my mind strongly pairs British announcers with dog agility because the sport originated in the UK. In addition, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been a global leader in sports broadcasting for decades, producing announcers in a variety of sports in many countries. When you pair British gravitas with high level agility expertise, the resulting commentary is brilliant!

Agility International Invitation Winner
Each year, Crufts invites other countries to send a representative to compete in the International event, which is held only for large dogs. This year, the event attracted some of the best handlers in the world, including Mona Grefenstein (Germany), Euan Paterson (Scotland), reigning FCI Agility World Champion Kevin Odile (France) and former FCI Agility World Champion Nicola Giraudi (Italy). I don’t think Crufts shared the Final stream, so instead I’ve included the link to the Agility competition HERE and the Jumping competition HERE. For Americans, the international equivalent to Jumpers With Weaves is called Jumping, while the equivalent of Standard is simply called Agility. According to the Crufts website, Mike Bendell took first in the Final, with defending champ Euan Paterson finishing 2nd, and highly decorated international competitor Sally Andrews claiming 3rd.

Bad Dog Agility VIP members, you can watch your handler fitness instructor Chris Kerton (who also works with Team Great Britain) run his Border Collie in this event, as he was one of the 19 invited competitors, representing Wales.

Speaking of commentary, the regular commentators were joined in the booth by Ashleigh Butler, an experienced agility competitor who ran in the Championship Final this year, and I think she made the viewing experience even better. She has also appeared on Britain’s Got Talent—you can see her appearance HERE on Youtube in this video which has 44 million views.

Amusingly, the commentators often referred to a panel-looking jump as “the YuMove” and another jump with the IAMS logo on it as “the IAMS.” Of course, YuMove and IAMS are major sponsors of Crufts and coincidentally, Bad Dog Agility’s Jennifer Crank is a YuMove ambassador.

[PHOTO]: the “YuMove” jump at Crufts.

Young Kennel Club (YKC) Agility Dog of the Year
On Saturday, 7-year-old Border Collie Leia and her 15-year-old handler Adam Thomson from Scotland won the YKC Agility Dog of the Year. Qualifiers for the event are all YKC members ages 6 to 17 years old. The competition includes dogs in all the various jump heights, and the skill level is very high. You can watch the entire class below; Adam and Leia run at the 23:29 mark. Sporting a bright green hoodie, Adam provided the smooth and calm handling while Leia wowed the crowd with a fantastic running dogwalk to close out the run in a winning time of 31.153. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears the final ranking combined all heights together so that small dogs have the opportunity to win without prejudice by producing a faster time. In the United States, at Westminster, dogs jumping lower than 20” are scored in a way that disadvantages them compared to larger dogs because the overall winner is determined based on Yards Per Second rather than the actual time.

[VIDEO]: Adam and Border Collie Leia capture YKC Agility Dog of the Year (start at 23:29).

Championship Final, Small
16 small dogs battled it out in Jumping and Agility to determine the 9 dogs who would appear in the Final. Martin Reid (34.458) narrowly beat Ashleigh Butler (2nd, 34.693), and Les Pearce (3rd, 36.457). Recall that Ashleigh helped provide commentary for the International runs at Crufts. The top two runs were incredibly close, with both dogs running superbly, you can watch them back to back starting at the 8:13 mark in the video below.

[VIDEO] 2023 Crufts Championship Small Final

Championship Final, Medium
17 medium dogs competed in this class, with the top 9 advancing to the Final. Toni Dawkins finished in the top spot, while Dalton Meredith took 2nd and Charlotte Baker took 3rd. Sadly, Crufts did not include the medium Final in the YouTube video that was supposed to show both the medium and small classes together.

Championship Final, Intermediate
Steven Richardon (35.819) took 1st, while one of my favorite judges, Lee Gibson (36.707) and Border Collie Star took 2nd. Jo Nash (37.085) finished 3rd. Steven’s running dogwalk was so fast with awkward striding on the final plank that I couldn’t be sure the dog touched the yellow, but a judge was standing less than 6 feet away and called it good, so I assume it was okay. Lee also had a running contact, and both men had fabulous runs with strong decelerations to control tight turns that transitioned into long fast lines where they leveraged their foot speed as handlers to push their dogs even faster. You can start watching the video below at the 5:33 mark to see Lee’s run, with Steven running the very next dog and taking over first place. You can see Jo Nash and her black Labrador Retriever Lulu finish in third place at the 8:43 mark. While Lulu did not have a running dogwalk, she had a great run on course.

[VIDEO] 2023 Crufts Championships – Intermediate Large Final Agility

Championship Final, Large
In the Final, Martin Reid won while Naarah Cuddy finished 2nd and Shannon Springford finished 3rd. Shannon’s run starts at the 16:38 in the video below and her run started with a fantastic running dogwalk en route to a 35.573. Shannon ran before the other two competitors, and her handling was fantastic; she shifted between sends, maintaining lateral distance, and racing her dog on the long lines to create a beautiful run. Martin, the eventual winner, run at the 20:10 mark in the video below, and also had a beautiful running dogwalk, with excellent control of the turn at the #7 jump, with tighter turns than Shannon and a time of 35.328, less than a quarter second faster than the current leader. The penultimate large dog was Naarah Cuddy, and her run starts at the 21:13 mark in the video below. Like the other top three finishers, Naarah’s dog had an unbelievably fast and solid running dogwalk that propelled her to a time of 35.330. Remember, Martin ran it in 35.328, for a difference between the two dogs of 0.002 seconds. In my scientific mind, that’s a tie.

[VIDEO] 2023 Crufts Championships – Intermediate Large Final Agility

Final Thoughts
Agility in the UK has taken some leaps forward as far as what the top handlers at Crufts are doing. Running contacts are the norm and they have a full arsenal of handling maneuvers at their disposal, with emphasis on controlling turns and straightening out their dogs’ lines to create fast times. When I see how easily the handlers ran this course, with almost no variation in handling choices, I think that the courses are too easy and don’t provide enough challenge for this group, especially the large dogs. I look forward to watching them compete at the big international events later this year.

Coming Soon
Congrats to all the competitors and everyone involved with the event at Crufts! There are several upcoming agility events here in the U.S. including the FCI Agility World Championship tryouts, followed by Westminster, and I’m hopeful I can have more timely reporting for those events than I did for Crufts. Until then, you can reach me at team@baddogagility.com.

Happy Training,

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