An interview with the Administrator of the Galloway Midi Challenge

Agilitynet speaks to Joyce Turner, the Administrator of the new Galloway Midi Challenge, the first national competition for our middle-sized dogs.

Q. Why did you get involved in the Galloway Midi Agility Challenge if you don't run a Midi dog?
A. I guess I got involved because of Sharon Lear. She and her dog Digger are members of my club Corton ATS. They are probably the best Midi combination in the country at the moment. If they were Standard or Mini, they would be qualifying for Crufts and Olympia and would be running in Championship classes. Being Midi, however, they can't do any of those things. They have been the top Midi combination in both The Voice and the Agility Eye tables in for the last two our of three years. They only missed out in 2001 because Sharon was pregnant. They have nothing left to aim for.

I actually run one Mini dog - 'run' being a rather loose term in this case - and two Border Collies myself, so I can't enter the competition. I'm almost tempted to go and find a Midi!

 Q. How did you hear about the competition in the first place?
A. Last year I was put in touch with Mike Afia, the person who is behind this competition via the Forum. He is a starter midi handler, but very keen. It was his idea to raise the profile of Midis. He volunteered to put up the money for the competition, but doesn't have the time to organise it. so I said I'd do that bit - and there we were!

 Q. We heard on the agility grapevine that The Agility Club had been planning on running a Midi competition. What's the story here?
A. Unfortunately at the AGM they said they felt that they needed to rebuild their membership and get a bit more coming into the Club before they felt they could take on a new competition. The Midis were understandably upset about this decision. The Agility Club, however, has agreed to host a heat, and have made a real effort to offer the midis a good range of classes at their show this year. Bill Glover has also given me a lot of help and advice about how to run this competition, based on his experience with the Agility Club Starters competition.

 Q. Why is it called the 'Galloway' Challenge.
A. I suggested the name as Mike's business is called The Galloway Carpet Centre. Obviously it  is totally un-dog-related, so he is not doing it for publicity. Anyway, Galloway is the region in Scotland where he lives.

 Q. What has been the response to the competition thus far.
A. The competition has proved very popular with show secretaries, and we now have a lot more heats than we originally intended. Newton Heath very kindly agreed to host the final, but because their show is in June, we've had to go for June 2004 for the first one. Now we're hoping the Midis will support the competition.

 Q. Usually the winner of a major competition gets a piece of crystal or a big trophy. Why are you offering a cash prize?
A. We are intending to award a crystal trophy for the overall winner of the Final, too. In addition, they will receive a 100 voucher. The dog and handler combination doing best in the heats overall will receive a 50 voucher - and a trophy if the budget will stretch to it!

It was Mike's idea to give a voucher as well to the winner, and he has supplied the extra 100 to pay for it. We thought it would encourage the better midis to keep entering heats. Obviously, with such a small group, we can't afford to drop the good people out as soon as they have qualified. According to Agility Aid, though, there are actually about 250 competing midis in the country at the moment, so it will be interesting to see what the entries for the qualifiers are like.

 Q. Has anyone else been interested?
A. I have actually received a small donation from another handler, James Webster, towards the costs of the competition, because he was so pleased that something like this was finally taking off. That was a nice gesture - particularly since we have added another six heats to the original ten, so the sponsorship money is going to be stretched a bit tightly.

By sponsoring this national competition, I felt we could indeed raise their profile and even now have noticed more Midi classes at forthcoming shows. And who knows, maybe we'll see the Final at Crufts one day!

TaiAbout the Administrator...
Joyce Turner
started competing 13 years ago with her Collie/Spaniel cross Megan, after doing a Beginners course at Corton. She got E'd at the first jump in her first class at her first show, so she went back to show jumping her horses for the next two years!

She then started competing properly at agility, with Meg, who got numerous places in Starters from second downwards, but never that elusive first. Her other dog at that time, Astra, used to go round courses backwards - entertaining, but not terribly successful.

Meg eventually made it to the Barbour Pairs final at the Royal Show with Jackie Bromwich's very good Advanced dog Shona (Foxtwist Felicity). She also got to the Golden Oldies final twice.

Then she bought Nell, a Border Collie puppy from Jackie Bromwich. Joyce trained Nell at both Chippenham and Corton. She was looking very promising, and brought home a trophy within three months, but tragically she got killed two days after her second birthday. By that stage, she was already training Blue, another Hope with cat Foxtwist. He was a very reliable dog, and he eventually won her out of Starters. He has just turned eight, and he retired from full height competition at the end of last summer because he's got bad arthritis in his hips.

Blue was in the Chippenham team for the Chum final about three years ago, and he was also a reserve for the Chippenham team that got to the Final at Crufts 3 or 4 years ago.

Joyce is currently running two blue tri-colour BC bitches, Skye and her daughter Hope. She bred Hope herself. She is also running a little fluffy white Mini thing - a Japanese Spitz called Tai. He got a first in the show ring at Crufts last year, but isn't quite as good in the agility ring. She has have just bred another litter from Skye, and she's kept the bitch puppy, Glory. This means she  currently have seven dogs, not forgetting  the two horses and three cats.

Joyce lives in Pewsey in Wiltshire and works for Vodafone in Newbury and Theale. She's actually an accountant, but got side-tracked into computers.

Photo of Sharon Lear: Bill Glover


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