news - 12/11/2011 Champion of Champions & Cynological Days - Belgium
by Karl DonvilBrussels concludes the festivities of the FCI Centenary
Germany, France, Holland, Austria and Belgium were the founding countries of the FCI and 100 years later these countries had something to celebrate. Germany had its Dortmund Bundessieger Show combined with a FCI Centenary Sieger show, France was granted the honor to organize the World Show, Holland the European Show, and Austria will organize the World Show in 2012. In order to find out who would become the Ultimate FCI Centenary Champion of Champions, Belgium was asked to organize this very special show that was organized only twice before, once in Basel Switzerland and once in Slovakia. The famous “Victor” trophy was to win in the 3 colors. This massive statue is really something to cherish as the design is comparable to the Hollywood Oscars.
Organizing the Champion of Champions Show was a real challenge and a prestigious honor. As the FCI is seated in Belgium they could of course count on the expertise and help of the people of the Royal Society Saint Hubertus and their partner Royal Canin. The show was to take place at the Heizel palaces that where large enough to hold the event. It is close to the airport, lots of parking around and in the heart of Europe with easy access via the European Highways.
Dogs winning BOB of BOS on one of the above-mentioned shows and on last Brussels Dog Show in December 2010 and who were granted the CACIB, or dogs who became International Champion, could enter for this show. The FCI hoped that it would become a big success but I know that FCI President ,Mr.Müller, was not 100% assured it would be. This first big challenge for the organizers would be the registration of the entries via internet. Alike at Westminster there was only a limited number of entries allowed, 150 per FCI group. This was for practical reasons with regard to the judging of each group, but it was a little unfair to group I (Shepherd group) and II (Guardian Dogs) as they far outnumber Group IV (Dachshounds) and Group X (Sighthounds) in number of different breeds . Anyway the registrations were open from 5 September (the day after the European Show in Leeuwarden) and it worked perfectly. The registrations came in very smoothly and I heard no complains afterwards. On September 30, the day entries were closed, no less than 893 entries were counted. Mr.Müller was very pleased and called it a real success . Now it was to hope that all the rest would turn out well. Except for Group II in all other groups the limit was not reached. But when I have a look in the catalog and count the dogs in Group II I saw that there were 156 entries and not 150. The reason was that in that group there were some exhibitors who were accepted cause of technical problems they encountered and that were beyond their control.
The show was held on Saturday 12 November. But prior to this, the FCI had its regular meetings and also some very interesting seminars (on Friday) in the theatre of the Palace Hotel in the Centre of Brussels the days before. The seminars could be followed in one of the four official languages of the FCI, English, French, German and Spanish. The accent of the seminars was on the relation between dog and man and the part judges can play with regard to the health, physical structure and character of the dogs. I attended some and I can assure you that this should be required reading for all judges. The emphasis is on the welfare of the dogs and diagonal to any kind of exaggeration. Let us hope that we can soon see the results in certain breeds that are suffering from anomalies. This part of the Cynological days was sponsored by Eukanuba.
Saturday would be the big day, as the day of the show and that day would start very early. The dogs were allowed in from 6.30 in the morning. Also here we found a premiere for Belgium. All entries were computer scanned and this worked good beyond expectations. There were no queues at the entrance like we see in many other shows. For every entered dog there was a bag with a catalog, a voucher, an FCI Souvenir and a nice FCI rosette. The only problem were some greedy exhibitors who took more bags than they were supposed to take so that the last people to come in did not have a souvenir or rosette. Maybe it would have been better to work with a voucher and to let the gifts be picked up at the FCI stand that was now a little empty during the day. It would also give people the opportunity to get to know the FCI a little better. Compared to for example the British Kennel Club and some National Kennel Clubs like the Swedish one, the FCI should present itself much more. There is however a change in recent years in this direction. There is Coby, the mascots, there are a few books and publications and also the newsletter. Unfortunately they were not presented or for sale, a missed opportunity!
The catalog of the show was excellent , displaying the rules in two languages, statistical data and pages to fill out with the numbers of the qualified dogs. The 893 dogs represented no less than 33 different countries. The Netherlands were leading with 175 entries and defeated Germany who had 174. Next came Belgium with 152 entries, France with 75, Italy with 71 and Russia with 62. There were 18 dogs entered from the United Kingdom, the only non-FCI country. Also remarkable were the 230 different breeds. In fact it are more as we know that CACIB’s are given to all varieties and sizes of Dachshunds and also colors in Poodles and Cockers. And also the Belgian Shepherds and the Great Danes are all considered as one breed in the total counting. But If we take them apart I think it are around 250 breeds. There were even some really rare ones like the Kishu. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was the most numerous breed with 28 specimen.
The time schedule was strict and well respected. At 8.00 o’clock Mr. Müller declared the show for open and judging could start. Two by two the dogs were entered in the rings, regardless what breed they were from. There was a ring for every group and two judges officiated, giving points to every dogs with a maximum of 100. Results were only communicated privately to the owners except for the 64 dogs that were selected for the second round. I heard that there were some ex-aequo’s in certain breeds and the judges had to draw lots to decide which dog could go to the next round. It is hard to tell if this was really the case or if the judges had other criteria. The number of dogs to be selected from each group differed from group to group and was more or less in relation to the number of entries in that group. However again, 3 Dachshunds for 33 entries compared to 9 Shepherd dogs for 123 entries. The numbers of the selected dogs for round two was displayer on a big screen in the above the main ring. Everything went very smoothly and this is certainly also thanks to the well briefed ring stewards who did a wonderful job. At lunch time 13.30 the first round was over.
Exactly one hour later the 3 judges for the finals took place in the main ring to judge the 64 selected dogs in a knock-out competition, one from each main section of the FCI. Mr. E. Maniero from Peru was the all rounder representing the Americas Section. The Asian Section was represented by Mr.H.Kamisato from Japan and Mr.H.Kleibenstein from Germany was delegated by the European section. They were separated and could not influence each-other. Two dogs were presented each time, one took place on a red spot on the carpet, the other on a bleu spot. The judges showed a colored flag that corresponded to the color of the spot where on their favorite dog was shown. As the dogs were chosen by drawing lots to come into the ring and as every time there were only two dogs in the ring at the time, it happened that two top dogs came out against each other and one of them was already out from the second round or third round a only one of them could move to the following round. That must have been frustrating for the judges but even more for the participants. But that’s part of the game of course. After 4 rounds 4 dogs remained. Two of them would end ex-aequo on the 3rd place,the SHAR PEI (male) born 19/09/2008 “Jade East Catch Me If You Can” owned by Loretta Anders Nijholt Minne from the Netherlands and the SCOTTISH TERRIER (male) born 10/11/2007 “Filisite Brash Celebration” owned by Valentina Popova from Russia. After a profound examination the WELSH CORGI PEMBROKE (male) born 09/06/2007 “Andovan Pinkerton” from Olga Silova from Russia was awarded Vice Champion of Champions and the Golden Victor was for the IRISH WOLFHOUND (female/ born 21/05/2009) “Absolute Roan Inish Tullamore Good Stuff “. Petra Tomasovicova the owner from Slovakia was in the seventh heaven. Her Wolfhound enforced the feeling by literally jumping in her arms. Mr.Stefan Stefic, member of the FCI executive committee, was absolutely thrilled as if he won the Victor himself. These winners were invited later in the evening to the Gala dinner in one of the most beautiful Concert Halls of the city, “le Concert Noble”, situated in the European Quarter. Here it became clear how many cynological VIP’s came over from all over the world to hand over gifts and congratulate Mr.Müller as president of the FCI.
But it was not only a Victory for the winning dog and his owner but it was a relief for the whole team of collaborators, the FCI members, the people of the Royal Society Saint Hubert, the volunteering stewards and the people of Royal Canin who provided the logistics behind the event. It was also a victory for my own team of photographers as we presented the first part of the book with all the qualified dogs for this final event and the photo shoot in 3 Studio’s of almost all participating dogs on this event.
I think the FCI can look back on a thrilling year to celebrate its 100th anniversary. A lot of people and several organizations helped to bring this year into the spotlights. Besides the dog shows there were lots of other events like Field Trials, Dog Races, Coursings, Agility, etc. The only missed chance is the European Community that lived next door to the event in Brussels. I think that even in the recent difficult times of recession and the global financial crisis it should have been possible to find some dog-minded politicians to invite. But even without that it has been a memorable year in many aspects.
Text and photo’s Karl DONVIL
853 - ABSOLUT ROAN INISH TULLAMORE GOOD STUFF (IRISH WOLFHOUND)