Not so many years ago the halls belonged to the city and were one of the most affordable, but that has changed since they are owned privately now. Mechelen used to have around 1,500 entries but since the halls came into private hands, it changed and they were forced to find other means of income to survive. The solution was double shows, at least at first. In 2017 they had 1,228 entries on Saturday and 1,242 on Sunday.
It is also getting more and more difficult to find enough judges to invite, allrounders are the cheapest option for double shows as they need to be able to attract enough dogs every day and they need to judge different breeds on Saturday and on Sunday and the most economical option is to invite local allrounders. Of course, the organisation receives an entry fee for 1,114 and another 1,101 dogs, but what if tomorrow they will no longer get a CACIB license and have to step down to a CAC? How many entries will they have then? They have to talk and negotiate with the owners of the halls and let them know that the owners are losing too is this yearly event is no longer held. Maybe they can find a better formula based on a fee/entry or whatever.
There were a lot of foreign exhibitors entered, 14 nationalities, making this show a truly international one. However, last year when it was a single show with 1,456 entries, there was almost exactly the same number of foreigners entered as this year with hardly 1,100 entries.
I counted 525 foreign dogs, almost half of what was entered and that means something in my opinion. It means that foreign exhibitors come over to finish Belgian Championship and with proportionally less Belgian entries, it says something about how many of them have already finished it. Due to road works the entrance to the halls was redirected via the small centre roads, but there seems to have been no major traffic problem. There was another sponsor for the show.
Many shows no longer have a sponsor, their battlefield is no longer on the dog shows and every year they cut more and more in their budgets, leaving very little for shows. The very little margin to steal a few breeders away from the concurrence is probably no longer enough to invest big amounts of money. Besides the free bags with dry food for the winners, there were in-kind prizes for the 10 group winners every day. Twenty judges were invited, 7 of them from Belgium. On Saturday Mrs Linda Reinelt-Gebauer was one of the judges with a plus 80 score. Thanks to 24 English Bulldogs she had 86 dogs to judge.
On Sunday Mrs Marie Jose Melchior from Luxembourg proved very popular with 104 entries, but the absolute top was for Mr Torsten Lemmer from Bulgaria. On Saturday he had 140 entries, included the 28 more and more popular Rhodesian Ridgebacks, while he was also the Best In Show judge on Sunday. And as if that was not enough, he found 153 dogs in his ring on Sunday. Without any doubt, inviting him was a real hit.
The dogs/judging-day rate was 63 and that was very good! Mr Lemmer’s choice for 3rd Best is Show on Saturday was the Miniature Bull Terrier, Vicky Of Bully Lake, owned by Francesca Scorza Petazzi, from Italy. Four were entered for Mr Lemmer while Mr Otto Kcral made him Best of Group. This bitch is two years old now. His second place went to the Whippet, West Chelan Quick Look At Me, owned by Shelby Mowbray from Belgium. Ilona Griffioen-van Beek went home in the Netherlands with the 3rd cup won by her Portuguese Water Dog, Casa Hoya’s Addicted To You.
Mrs Clarke chose the Siberian Husky, Erzulie Freda Susseer as Best In Show. Gal Patterson from Ireland picked this dog out of 10 and Mrs Reinelt was the one who awarded the ticket for the finals. This Russian bred dog was entered in Champion Class by her owner from the Netherlands, Nadezda Anapreeva.
The Bullmastiff of Joos Monique from Belgium came in second place and the 3rd BIS went to the Weimaraner, Grey Classic’s Queen Of Diamonds, owned by Lenaerts from Poland. I have written many times about these double shows, trying to warn of the disastrous consequences. Slowly those consequences are starting to show. Don’t we have enough shows for a small country like Belgium?
I understand very well that receiving entry fees from 1,114 and 1,101 dogs is better than from 1,456. But in 2017, when it was also a double, it was from 1,228 and 1,242 and that is a loss of 255 entry fees. With all my sympathy for shows in trouble, but double shows are only good for temporary cash boost, but in the long term, there is only one way... re-invent the show by making the competition stronger!