Take fourteen outstanding young dogs, a beautiful stately home, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience out to enjoy themselves for the day, and what do you have? The answer is the first ever Buddies Yearling Stakes Grand Final.
Taking place at the lovely Thrumpton Hall, near Nottingham, the competition showcased the winners of heats held at Group Championship shows throughout 2017. With serious prize money on offer – £500 plus a commissioned painting of the winner from the highly rated artist Jo van Kampen to the winner, and £250 to the runner-up – the quality of the finalists was exceptional, with several of these young dogs already champions. Judge for the final was Tony Allcock MBE, and he set about his task with an obvious pleasure at being able to have his hands on these lovely dogs. Commentator for the day was the ever-popular Di Johnson, and together with Nick Gourlay who brought his stewarding skills into play, keeping everything running very smoothly, the event was in safe hands. Organisation of the competition was undertaken by Caroline Bowles-Robinson, whose ready smile and unflappable demeanour might have hidden a few butterflies, although no-one would have guessed. I always think it is a sign of an enjoyable day when it is difficult to get people to leave – and that was certainly the case here, with people still chatting long after the event was supposed to have finished.
After a warm welcome, with coffee and Danish pastries on offer in the hall itself, we made our way to the marquee where judging took place. The fourteen dogs came in individually, and were introduced to the audience by Di, who gave a brief resumé of each dog’s achievements, then they returned to the ring to be judged, and finally all came in together for Tony to make his first cut. This consisted of the Pomeranian, Bedlington, Wire Fox Terrier, Deerhound, Bullmastiff, Miniature Poodle and Bouvier des Flandres. Once round again, and it was down to four dogs, with the Wire, Deerhound, Miniature Poodle and Bullmastiff in the spotlight. A final chance to see them move once more and a decision was made. Into the reserve spot went Spike the Wire Fox Terrier, with the winner’s rosette being taken by Noah the Bullmastiff. To add to the excitement, all those watching were asked to vote for their favourite, and their choice was the Australian Shepherd Dog, Vogue.
K9News photographer Alan Walker was busy taking photographs of all the winners, utilising the beautiful settings, both inside and out to create some lovely memories for all those who had taken part in the event. For the rest of us, it was pre-lunch drinks in the Hall, before sitting down to a traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef, followed by fruit crumble. Most people lingered over coffee, catching up with old friends, and all were full of praise for the Buddies team.
The Buddies Yearling Stakes is a very welcome addition to the show calendar. It is unique in being the only stakes final that is guaranteed to have qualifiers from every group. The generous prize money on offer at all the heats and at the final make it well worth entering, and for those lucky enough to qualify for the grand final the Buddies team made sure that it was a day to remember.
Buddies Chief Operations Officer, Avi Levine, emphasised the company’s ongoing commitment to breeders and to pedigree dogs – he even managed to ‘borrow’ a Norfolk Terrier from exhibitor Karen Hurrion, for the day!