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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

It’s a Winners’ weekend!

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The Amsterdam Winners Show was this year the host for the Eukanuba World Challenge at the same time as celebrating the 125th Winner Show Anniversary. 

From the reaction of many of the contestants, exhibitors, and guests it was clear that both shows achieved great success, despite the fact that their joining together only really came to be in the last few months.

The sale of the Eukanuba brand by P and G to the Mars Group for the USA market and separately to Spectrum Brands for Europe and other parts of the world, made things a little difficult and after seven years in the USA, the separation led to a move to Europe for the now famous Eukanuba World Challenge. Clearly this made things extremely difficult for the organising team who are largely based in Geneva and so have been segregated from the USA side of things. As the news of the potential sale of the brand sank in to the employees of Eukanuba, so did the realisation that ‘the show must go on’ and that despite the impending changes there was still work to be done.

  

Winners and losers

 

There were bound to be winners and losers in the new set up; many people had become accustomed to all expenses trips to the USA in December, but as with many things in life, nothing stays the same for ever. The Eukanuba World Challenge (EWC) had become inextricably bound up with the American National Championships so it must have seemed strange not seeing this final in Florida this year.

But after much research and meetings the new location of Amsterdam was settled upon and the background organisational wheels started to turn.

Some questioned the choice of Amsterdam as opposed to other major shows which were being staged round about this time of year, such as Stockholm, Brussels and Helsinki.

The choice of Amsterdam was affected by geographical position among other things as it is an excellent hub for international travel and a relatively easy airport for dogs.

Other shows mentioned also had different food sponsors, so in various ways, the Amsterdam Winner fitted the bill. You also needed an organising committee with the desire and commitment to make it work within their own show and that certainly was the case in Holland, from the President Gerard Jipping and Kennel Club Chief Executive Rony Doedijns.

 

Dutch delight

 

However, for many of the visitors from places like the Far East, the older and more historical setting of Amsterdam actually proved to be an interesting and exciting venue as the backdrop to events.

 However, even with a relatively short lead-in time, the Dutch team at the Winner Show and the Raad van Beheer (Dutch KC) combined brilliantly with the ever professional Eukanuba team to put on an exciting and fun packed weekend in old Amsterdam. For some time the FCI had also suggested that it was time to bring the EWC to Europe anyway, so circumstances contrived to make this happen one way or the other. Top brass of the FCI appeared from all round the world, staying at the excellent Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, the base for the EWC events. We had the President of the FCI Rafael Santiago from Puerto Rico and also Dinky Santos, head of the Asia and Far East Section and of course Jorgen Hindse from the European Section and judge for the final.

Regular shuttle buses ran the short ten minute trip to the showground.

The Our Dogs team have been involved with the Winner show for over 30 years and were delighted to help on the media side for the event. So there was a much greater media presence in the Rai Centre on the outskirts of the city centre. The press people were given easy access and daily press conferences were held in excellent rooms, although they were a little distance away from the main ring.

The Eukanuba team are well known and liked on the dog show scene so it was great to see them all in the hotel and around the show taking care of all the competitors. Mike Bloxsome from the UK and other country managers were each allotted a group of exhibitors as their point of contact. Also from the UK were the representatives Sue Smith and Val Freer with the Samoyed and Debbie Pearson with the Shetland sheepdog. All their friends and connections had a great time over the weekend and supporting the UK entries. The camaraderie amongst all the competitors was excellent with very good sportsmanship.

The Amsterdam Winners show itself has undergone something of a resurgence in recent years and is now a three day event on its own. The Friday saw the National Show won by a Pointer bred in the UK and handled by a Scandinavian, maintaining the international feeling of the weekend!

On Saturday and Sunday the actual Winners Show took place in the new part of this well established show centre. The layout had been changed to accommodate all the activities and the main ring had been given special treatment by the show team; it looked very impressive and had two banked rows of tiered seating on either side and a VIP area facing.

 

Back to the dogs

 

This year marked the eighth installment of the acclaimed canine competition and was the first Eukanuba World Challenge Final to be held in Europe.  33 dogs and handlers representing as many countries and qualifying events from all five continents competed for the grand prize of Euro 7,500 and the honor of being named “Eukanuba World Challenge Champion”.

There  was  a general consensus  that the  line  up  of dogs for both the Eukanuba World Challenge and for the Winners Best in Show was really first rate and the judges were lucky to have such good dogs to choose from. This was particularly fortunate considering that on the same weekend, the UK’s LKA Show had attracted an entry of over 10,000, the AKC National Championship Show in Florida had over 4000 dogs, the Stockholm International reached over 8,000 and there was also a large show in St Petersburg over the same weekend.

Despite that many of the year’s top winners were in Amsterdam celebrating what has got to be considered one of the top highlights of the canine year. 

There were semi finals for the four judges to whittle down the finalist to just ten. Judges for the event included Ronnie Irving from the UK, Damir Skok from Croatia, Joey Aramis Lim from Australia and Leif Herman Wilberg from Norway.

Their judging took place after the traditional and spectacular parade of all the competing dogs and flag bearers. The press were given a three minute window in the main ring to come and capture the proud moments of all concerned.

The crowd was swelled on Saturday night with local Eukanuba representatives coming to the show and adding to an already expectant gathering. The lights and music built up the whole atmosphere together with commentary by Rony Doedijns and Marina Scott. In short, it all worked; the live streaming was great, the main ring looked fabulous and we had great, great dogs from all over the world, with of course the obvious exception of the Americas. Well done to Show Manager Richard Lensink and his team!

From a stunning field of 12 finalists BIS judge Jorgen Hindse, FCI Europe President and President of the Danish Kennel Club, eventually selected ‘Ch. Tricky Ricky from Yarrow Hi-Tech’,  the Affenpinscher male from Indonesia representing the World Dog Show 2014,  as his “Best of the Best” Eukanuba World Challenge Champion 2014. This now famous dog had swept all before him in Helsinki back in August winning the world dog show under all rounder Hans Lehtinen.

 

Type and charisma

 

“My ring was full of great dogs of so many breeds,” said Mr. Hindse.  “All of them were outstanding, and at any time six or seven were potential winners in my mind.  In the end it was the Affenpinscher who amazed and impressed me with his type and charisma.  He was so full of character and simply demanded my attention at all times!”

‘Tricky Ricky’ is owned by Jongkie Budiman of Indonesia along with breeder Mieke Cooijmans, and is handled by Tortrakul Chaiyah.  “Our entire experience at the Eukanuba World Challenge has been wonderful, and Ricky’s win is the most amazing feeling,’” said Mrs. Cooijmans.  “With so many great dogs in competition it was impossible to predict. I am speechless!”

The Indonesian national anthem was played in the ring after Tricky Ricky's Best in Show win at the Eukanuba World Challenge 2014; the connections of the dog were all so proud with the Indonesian owner and all their Indonesian friends and supporters who had made the trip.

 

Runner-up

 

Runner Up to the Affenpinscher was the Old English Sheepdog representing Hungary ‘Ch Bottom Shaker So Easy To Love’. Three year old “Gina’’ is owned by Jozsef Koroknai and handled by Zsolt Hano, who was exhibiting at the Eukanuba World Challenge for the 7th time.  “Tonight’s win was a proud moment for me, as she follows in the footsteps of her very special father,” said Mr. Hano.

The First Runner Up was the Maltese from Italy ‘’Ch. Cinecitta Sacha Baron Cohen’’ with handler Javier Gonzalez Mendikote. It was the second year representing Italy for breeders and owners Franco Prosperi and Stefano Paolantoni. 

“It was so exciting to watch Sacha in the main ring,” said Mr Paolantoni. 

“I often show my own dogs, but it is such a pleasure to see him enjoying himself with Javier and looking fantastic from outside the ring.” 

Final words go to the winning team, who said after the final:

“After winning Best in Show at WDS in Finland, our dream came true once again at EWC in Amsterdam. It is a wonderful ride with the Super Monkey Dog! Our Holland adventure has come to end but our spirit never ends, we will welcome the New Year with high hopes! We would like to thank The Eukanuba World Challenge team, The Amsterdam Winner Show, section judge Mr Aramis Joy Lim, BIS judge Mr Jorgen Hindse, FCI Asia and the Pacific Section, The FCI - all judges and everyone that is with us all the time nothing would have been possible without any of you, We know words are not enough to thank everyone! We share the Eukanuba World Challenge Trophy to all the dog lovers worldwide. Ricky is the world's dog and he loves everybody!”

So that says it all really.

Well done Dutch KC, Cynophilia, Eukanuba team and everyone who travelled from all over the world with their fabulous dogs! WOW!

 

Winner show

 

Of course, the show itself was not over and after the Eukanuba party on Saturday night we were all back at the Rai on Sunday for the conclusion of the Winner Show which saw a Saluki from Sweden take the top spot. 

 

The future?

 

What the future holds for this spectacular event is now unsure with the takeover. Representatives of Spectrum Foods were in Amsterdam for the weekend and must have been impressed with the branding and impact made by the whole concept. Major sponsors like Eukanuba are essential for the future of shows like this so we surely all hope for the best. I can tell you that the Dutch Kennel Club and Winners organisers are more than capable of staging the whole weekend again and I suspect more than relish the opportunity.

Read 2795 times Last modified on Monday, 12 September 2016

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