The KC Agility Stakes Final
This was the 31st year that the Agility Stakes Finals had been hosted by the Olympia London International Horse Show (17-21 December) and what a final it was! It was five evenings of finals with some of the most skilled and exciting agility that you could find anywhere in the world, watched by a live audience of 10,000 for each performance and televised by Eurosport, Horse & Country and the BBC. What a recipe for success! Dave Ray sent this report.
I have been organising this event for the last 18 years and I still find this to be one of the most exciting events in the world. Certainly it is the final all the competitors want to qualify for. It still amazes me how the dogs can hear the handlers' commands over the sound of 10,000 spectators cheering a dog down the finishing straight.
The sport of agility is once more indebted to the Kennel Club for supporting this final and, in addition, all the Olympia heats to be held in 2010.
My personal thanks the our judge Charlie Wyatt who is skilled, experienced, professional and good company. What more could you ask for? Charlie lists all the team working behind the scene at the end of his report so I will just add that I am indebted to you all for the contribution you have made in the last 18 years. It's easy standing at the front but success can only be achieved with a first class team behind me which I have.
Finally congratulations to our guest helper this year, Arthur Rodgers who has been appointed to judge the 2010 Olympia Finals.
It was truly a great honour to be asked to judge at Olympia in 2009. I was looking forward to it from the moment I accepted the appointment back in October 2008. I attended some of the competitions last year when Graham Partridge judged, and the atmosphere was electric. The Olympia audiences love the dog agility and are very vocal. Sometimes you can't hear yourself think when the crowds are cheering and urging the dogs across the finishing line. I couldn't wait to be a part of that magical experience.
As we all know, time flies by so quickly. Where 2009 went, I don't know. It wasn't long before I found myself driving down to London to 'do my bit' at Olympia 2009.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
The Kennel Club Medium Dog Jumping
The Kennel Club Medium Dog Jumping Grand Prix
The Kennel Club Medium Dog Agility
First up was Keith Palmer with his dog The Black Velveteer. They got the final off to a fabulous start, going clear in 38.89 seconds. Amanda Hampson and Winfren Vulpecula Kayla were a little faster, 38.71, but they picked up 5 faults on the dog walk. Angela Williams and her Border Collie Withersfarm Perfect Ten snatched the lead from Keith with a clear in 37.35 seconds. Karen Smith with Man on a Mission ran fourth. She also recorded a clear round, and her time of 40.12 put her into 3rd place.
Toni Dawkins and Ag. Ch. Tenita Magic Minx were next to go. Minx was having a fabulous run and was, without doubt, well on the way to posting a superb time, but she picked up 5 faults when she ran past the see saw. They finished the course in 38.17 which was a brilliant time considering Toni had to take Minx back to do the see saw after running past it. Heather McLean and Morgans Chance Navigator were having a lovely run, but knocked a pole off for 5 faults in 40.91.
Next on the line were only the Medium World Champions, Natasha Wise with Ag. Ch. Raeannes Flipping Heck. They were introduced to the thousands of people watching as the reigning World Champions. Let's face it, Tasha was the odds on, red hot favourite to win this Final. If the pressure was getting to Natasha, it certainly didn't show. With the whole arena expecting something special from the World Champs, Natasha and Dizzy stood on the start line. They certainly didn't let anyone down because they put in a run that can only be described as absolutely brilliant. There was just one wide turn, but the rest was flawless. The crowd cheered all the competitors as they ran down the home straight, but they raised the roof when they saw that Natasha's time of 34.15 took the lead by some margin.
The penultimate pairing were Alan Gardner and his Border Collie Touchango Again Girl. Alan always gives 110% when he runs his dogs, and I could see he was certainly up for this challenge. He wasn't going to let Natasha have it all her own way if he had any say in the matter. He also had a storming run and his time of 36.36 was good enough for 2nd place.
Last to run was Bernadette Bay with her Sheltie, Ag. Ch. Obay Truly Balanced Bernadette. She was clear until she had a couple of refusals at jump number 18 when she decided to call it a day. So after a great Final
The placings were:-
Awards presented by Debbie Deuchar, Kennel Club Canine Activities Manager
Friday, 18 December 2009
The Kennel Club Small Pairs Relay
Awards presented by Diane Brookes Ward, Kennel Club Health Co-ordinator
The Kennel Club Small Agility Stakes
Jeff Walton ran next with his Sheltie, Chazey Midnight Special. They also ran a clear round in a time of 41.25. Sixth to run was Dave Hutchinson with his Min. Poodle Upanova New Edition. They started off really well but after going in the collapsible tunnel, Ozzie turned around, came back out again and took the next jump, so unfortunately, it was elimination.
Jeanette Tandy and Wee Betsy Boo were next up. Betsy, a Collie X JRT, put in a blistering round in an incredibly fast time of 35.50 seconds that really got the crowd cheering. I don't think they had ever seen such a small dog run so fast. Unfortunately 5 faults for a missed dog walk meant that they wouldn't win this years final, but I am 100% certain that Olympia has not seen the last of Wee Betsy Boo!
A missed dog walk and 5 faults in the weaves also meant that Mark Douglas and his Sheltie, Danfrebek Star Blossom at Stars of Mars would also miss out this year. The reigning Olympia Champions Dawn Weaver and Min. Poodle, Ag.Ch. Piquant Painted Sunshine were next to run. A faultless run in a time of 37.14 seconds put them into the lead with only one dog left to run.
The last partnership hoping to beat Dawns time was Nicola Garrett and her fast Sheltie, Ag.Ch. Obay Truly Driven. Nicky was having a great run with Indie, but on the run home Indie lost her footing after the long jump, and fell over, costing her valuable time. No one knows whether Nicola and Indie would have been fast enough had she not fallen over, but it would have been very close. Another great Final, with Dawn and Chelsea winning again.
Awards presented by Nick Brookes Ward, Crufts Committee Member and Main Arena Director
Saturday, 19 December 2009
The Kennel Club Agility Stakes Semi
The qualifiers in time order were:-
Awards presented by Steve Croxford, General Committee Member of The Kennel Club
Hard luck rosettes must go to Greg Derrett, Lindsay Cheshire, Agnes Campan and Sarah Young - all of whom had times that would have qualified them for the Final, had it not been for the five faults they each picked up during their run. Greg's time of 35.26 seconds was the same as Dave Munnings who won the event. Stuart Harmes finished in the dreaded 11th place, just 1/10 of a second behind Lee Windeatt.
The Kennel Club Large Dog Pairs
Awards presented by Cathy Choules, Crufts Event Manager
The Kennel Club Agility Stakes Final
Mark Douglas and his Kelpie Ruby were next. They didn't waste any time around the first part of the course. Ruby got a tight turn after the long jump setting them up for a fast finish. A time of 35.08 catapulted them into the lead. A missed dog walk and A-frame put paid to Elaine Auty and Davey's chances of winning tonight, but their time of 33.89 would prove to be the fastest of the night. Certainly one to watch for the future!
Kenny Spottiswood and Nike were unfortunate. They were eliminated when Nike took the see saw instead of the long jump. Becca, handled by Jacqui Tarn, had a brilliant run but a wrong turn after the long jump, costing them valuable time. They completed the course clear in 36.39.
With three left to run, Mark and Ruby were holding on to the lead. Simon Peachey and DJ had a blistering round, and would have definitely been in contention, but DJ knocked a pole for five faults and had a wide turn after the long jump. The clock stopped at 35.40, but the five faults meant they would finish eighth overall.
Then Lucy Osborne and Ben stepped up to the line. Just like everyone before them, they were determined to give it their best shot. Ben flew round the course with Lucy's expert guidance, and they didn't put a foot wrong. The turn after the long jump was perfect, and with the crowd cheering her down the finishing straight, they stormed home in 34.33 seconds to take the lead from Mark. What a fantastic run.
Last to ruin were Dave and Dobbie, the reigning Olympia champs. Could they beat the time? Dobbie, like Ben, blistered round this big course with ease, not wasting any time anywhere. The crowd were roaring as they approached the long jump, which was obstacle 17, but Dobbie, like a few other dogs before him, turned the wrong way after the long jump. You just knew that the Final had slipped away from Dave at that point. They recovered quickly and finished in 34.69 seconds.
As I have said before, Olympia is a very noisy place when the dogs are running. The audience goes wild, and Dave said afterwards that the dogs just can't hear your commands over the crowds. Lucy certainly deserved to be crowned Olympia Champion after her phenomenal run with Ben. So ended after another tremendous Final.
The placings were:-
Awards presented by Bill Hardaway, Vice Chairman Of The Kennel Club
Sunday, 20 December 2009
The Kennel Club Novice
Agility Stakes Semi Final
Worthy of mention were Ian Balchin had a lovely run with Darleyfalls Pick Me. Their time was 36.55, but they picked up five faults for a pole down. Christine Barrett with Raeanne's Kay Tee was lying in 6th place with only eight dogs to go, but five of those dogs qualified for the Final, leaving unlucky Christine in 11th place.
The Kennel Club Novice Agility Stakes - Semi Finals
Awards presented by the Judge Charlie Wyatt
Sunday, 20 December 2009
The Kennel Club Novice Dog Pairs
Awards presented by Maurice Cooke,
The Kennel Club Novice Agility Stakes
China, run by Mary Ray, were next to go. I don't think anyone has had more experience of competing at Olympia than Mary. She has qualified for the finals 24 times with eight different dogs. What a fabulous record! But could she get around this big course. She certainly could - and did. Mary and China finished in a time of 38.41 but unfortunately they picked up five faults for a missed A-frame.
Ian Jackson with his Border Collie Bobbie were sixth to run. They set off at a terrific pace, not wasting any time anywhere. Bobbie was flying! As she took jump fourteen, Ian moved over to the other side of the long jump, but Bobbie was too fast for him. He couldn't get where he wanted to be and after taking the long jump, she pulled in and entered the wrong end of the tunnel at sixteen. Kate Truluck and Mannie had a very nice run, going clear in 39.05, and that time was good enough to take 2nd place at that stage of the competition. David Isbister running his Border Collie Thyme, were next on the line. David also had a great run and finished clear in 37.79 seconds, just a fraction slower than Rachel, who was holding on to the lead after running first. Only two dogs to go. Bonny Quick and Hayley who finished second in the semi that morning were next. Unfortunately, Bonny suffered the same fate as Hazel when Hayley went in the wrong end of the tunnel at seven.
Only Anthony Clark and Ruby could snatch victory from Rachel and Finn. With the crowd cheering them on, they didn't put a foot wrong with a fantastic clear round in 35.23 seconds. The noise coming from the audience when Anthony was running down that final long straight was deafening. It was a well deserved Olympia win after a brilliant run.
Awards presented by Stan Ford, General Committee Member of The Kennel Club
Monday, 21 December 2009
On Monday afternoon, Ray Ellerton and his Lurcher Learn to Fly won this in a very fast time, just ahead of Nigel Staines and his Kelpie, Ag.Ch. Dragonheart Dark Destroyer.
Awards presented by Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts Show Director
The Kennel Club ABC Agility Stakes
Anna Braley's Kelpie Revel missed a weave pole for five faults. They completed the weaves correctly and finished the course in a time of 39.66. Running sixth was Karen Young with her Beardie, Dee. They were so nearly eliminated when Dee veered off to the tunnel instead of the weaves, but Karen managed to recover the situation just in time. They then went clear in a time of 40.07. So with four to go, Jane and Bindi were still in the lead, with Gill and Check 2nd.
Andy Brown went next with his Gronendael, Skye. Andy has experienced Olympia many times before, and he certainly wouldn't hold anything back. He steered Skye round clear in a good time of 37.78. It was not quite enough for top spot, but good enough for 2nd with only three to go. Ray Ellerton and his Lurcher, Learn to Fly who had won the mornings jumping competition with a brilliant run, but unfortunately they couldn't match that performance this evening. After a refusal at the first obstacle, they picked up further faults on the A-frame, dog walk and a run-by at the cloth tunnel. Obviously Ray was disappointed with his run, but I am sure he will be back at Olympia some time soon.
Another regular to Olympia was next on the start line. Nigel Staines with his Australian Kelpie Zico certainly had the speed, but could they go clear? They started off well, but Zico did what a couple of other dogs had done. She headed towards the tunnel instead of the weaves. Nigel soon got her back on track, and she entered the weaves from an awkward angle perfectly. They completed the rest of the course without any more scares in a tremendous time of 35.86 to a cheering crowd. Nigel was in the lead now with only one dog to go.
Daniel Slinkert and Pudding - to give him his full name, Mr. Pudding Esq. - were last to run. They also completed the course clear with a time of 41.63 which was good enough for 7th place overall. And then it was over - yet another great Final,
The placings were:-
Awards presented by Dave Ray
Kennel Club Agility Council Chairman & Olympia Event Manager
I am also indebted to the fabulous ring party including Gwyn and Anne Roberts, Shaun Young, Mary Ray, Rob Hunter, Elaine Seagroatt, and, of course, the Ring Manager, John Gilbert. I would also like to say thank you to Graham Partridge, last years judge, for all his help.
Lastly I would like to thank all the competitors for their sportsmanship during these Finals. Everyone was either congratulating someone who did well, or commiserating with someone who had a bit of bad luck. It really was nice to see. I should imagine that most of you will be back in 2010 trying again. I wish you all the very best of luck in your qualifying campaign, and good luck to Arthur Rodgers who will be judging Olympia 2010. Well done everyone.