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2006 KC Olympia Semi Finals

 

 

 

The Royal Show

Venue: The Royal Show, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
Date: Saturday, 2-5 July 2006
Judge: Graham Partridge


Over the last 27 years, the Kennel Club Olympia Agility Stakes Semi Finals, supported by Pedigree, has become the most prestigious Singles Agility competition in the UK and the Final is certainly one of the most sought-after finals to be in. Nothing can quite beat the competitive but festive atmosphere at the Olympia Christmas Horse Show. Now this whole event - and the final - is synonymous with the Kennel Club and Pedigreeís commitment to UK agility. Dave Ray, Agility Stakes Organiser, reports on the first of the Semi Finals.
 

Royal Show LogoThe Royal Show runs for four days from Sunday to Wednesday and on each day, there is a Semi-Final. There are 20 competitors per day who have had to qualify in order to be there with a morning event as a warm-up followed by the Semi final at around lunchtime. The top five dogs from each semi then go forward to the Kennel Club Olympia Agility Stakes Finals at the Olympia Christmas Horse Show.

The judge at the Royal Show this year was Graham Partridge. Graham is certainly in demand nowadays as a judge - both at home and abroad as well as a commentator. In fact, the weekend following this event he was due to judge the National Agility Finals in Finland, so a celebrity judge indeed!

Graham had decided that he would set open-type, flowing courses based on his belief that in the huge arena at Olympia this was the type of course that the handlers would get, and it was certainly a decision I applauded. I would have to say that over the four days of competition, we witnessed some of the best dog agility ever held in the UK. The standard was just superb. Failure to qualify for Olympia did not reflect on anyone's skill as there were just so many good dogs and handlers. Iím sure that my comments would be agreed with by the huge crowd of people who gathered to watch these competitions.

Day 1 (Sunday)
As usual before each of the semi finals, we ran a white (demonstration) dog. First to go in the Sunday Semi final was Ann-Marie Froggatt with Bailstails Billionaire who had a good clear round which unfortunately would not prove to be quick enough. Second was Robert Davies who clipped over a second off her time to take the lead with his clear round. Then running fourth, Nic Jones with Caleb took over a second off Robertís time with a superb clear in 31.04 seconds to put her into first place in a time that no-one would be able to catch. Sue Rolfe, seventh in line with Kestrel GTX, ran clear in 32.74 seconds to put her into first place, but she then had a nerve-racking wait to see if she would stay within the top five.

Blair Willis was running tenth and put in a good clear in 32.94 seconds but unfortunately this would give him sixth place at the end of the competition and so just out of the final places, which was a shame as he was the winner of the warm-up competition in the morning and certainly on form. Amanda Pigg tried hard with her clear in 33.07 seconds but ultimately this would also put her outside of the places. Simon Peachey running seventeenth with Diesel put in another clear round in 32.25 to ultimately take fourth place. Last to run was Dianne Talbot with Ag.Ch. Paws for Breath, having hot-footed it down from Perth for the previous dayís Highland Final. This was another superb run from her to go clear in 31.83 and finish second, hence qualifying for Olympia.


Winners

 

Handler

Dog

Time

Faults

1

Nic Jones

Slieve Caleb

31.04

Clear

2

Dianne Talbot

Paws for Breath

31.83

Clear

3

Rob Davies

Magical Liquorice Alsorts

32.16

Clear

4

Simon Peachey

Forby for Turbo Diesel

32.25

Clear

5

Sue Rolfe

Kestrel GTX

32.74

Clear

Invitation event winner: Blair Willis with Alsorts of Magic
Invitation event runner-up: David Alderson with Waggerland Spice

Day 2 (Monday)
On the Monday, as usual, we would see some of the same faces back having failed to qualify on the previous day. Again as with the previous day it was glorious, sunny weather. Running first and second, Ray Ellerton and Linda Hutchinson put in good clear rounds but they were not quite quick enough as they were to come in eighth and seventh places respectively. Lee Windeatt, running third, has had a fairly meteoric rise in agility but was a little on the slow side in 36.39.

We then had to wait until sixth place for the first fast and clear round. Chris Cole with Magic Charmer went into the lead with a round in 32.84 seconds, only to be beaten by 'Jacko' Jackson running eighth with a clear in 32.40. Ian Smith, running ninth with Nutmeg of Windermere then went into third place with a clear in 33.29 seconds. It was a nail-biting wait for him to see if that time would keep him in the top five.

Following this, we had to wait until handler number 14 for our next fast, clear which was Alan Bray with Tigger. Into the lead they went with a stunning 32.34 seconds. Greg Derrett, running 18th, had an uncharacteristic elimination the previous day but today he put in an excellent clear although it was not to be fast enough. 33.44 seconds to put him into fifth place at this stage. But unfortunately for Greg, running last was Toni Dawkins who would nudge him into sixth place. Toni really is one of the very top UK handlers at this moment - as well as being one of the smallest!  She put in a faultless clear and was the only handler to get under 32 seconds, beating the second-placed dog by over a whole second. It really was another stunning day of competition.


Winners

 

Handler

Dog

Time

Faults

1

Toni Dawkins

Spellcast Made in Heaven

31.06

Clear

2

Alan Bray

Lunarlite Selenaís Tiger at Upanova

32.34

Clear

3

Ian Jackson

Taliswood Temptation

32.40

Clear

4

Chris Cole

Magic Charmer

32.84

Clear

5

Ian Smith

Nutmeg of Windermere

33.29

Clear

Invitation event winner: Linda Hutchinson with Highlander Jack
Invitation event runner-up: Katie Mitchell with Comebyanyway Rocketman

Day 3 (Tuesday)
So we were now on to day three of our semi finals. It was another oppressively hot day. One or two handlers had spent the first two trying to qualify. It was also very sad to hear that a dog had died in the car park the previous day as a result of being left unattended in the car. The RSPCA were out in full force and so were television camera crews. The agility handlers were targeted, and the RSPCA were testing the temperature inside vehicles.

First to go in the semi final was Gemma Hanekom with Forest Trail and I donít quite know what to say - a superb round, stunningly fast and one of only four rounds to get under 33 seconds at 32.14. So into the lead she went and thatís where she stayed as no-one could catch her.

Marc Saunders and Will Rolfe had uncharacteristic eliminations and later we would see Tracey Stiff suffer the same fate. Hannah Banks, Helen Murphy and Paul Oldfield all tried hard but either had faults or were not fast enough. Running seventh, having failed on the previous two days, was Hege Hurdwell with Snazzy Tazzy but today she had a lovely clear round in 32.37 seconds to go into second place to book her ticket for Olympia. Alyson Martin, Helen Nelson and Eleanor Balchin all had clear rounds albeit not fast enough.

Anthony Clarke, running thirteenth with Black Magic had a good clear which put him into third place at that point of the competition but that was soon taken away from him by Lee Windeatt with Tenita Princess Lyla and his clear in 32.85. Running 18th, David Alderson was going to try again and this time he did it with a superb clear round in 32.38 seconds to go into third place, quickly followed by Lynne Ward with another clear in 32.52 to ultimately finish the day in fourth place. Commiserations of the day went to Anthony Clarke who finished sixth and hence just outside of the qualifiers.


Winners

 

Handler

Dog

Time

Faults

1

Gemma Hanekom

Forest Trail

32.14

Clear

2

Hege Hurdwell

Snazzy Tazzy

32.37

Clear

3

David Alderson

Waggerland Spice

32.38

Clear

4

Lynne Ward

Waggerland Kite

32.52

Clear

5

Lee Windeatt

Tenita Princess Lyla

32.85

Clear

Invitation event winner: Lynne Ward with Waggerland Kite
Invitation event runner-up: Will Rolfe with Madmag Magic Moment

Day 4 (Wednesday)
So on to day four and the last semi of our first set of competitions. Today we had a change of weather. Sporadic showers during the day meant that handlers had to take it a little bit more carefully, although you wouldn't have thought so when you saw them running.

First to go was Lee Gibson with Che. This looked to be good in 32.64 clear but ultimately would not be fast enough. Second to run was Hannah Banks who I think had been with us for all four days but would she be lucky today?  Yes - 31.80 seconds was her time so into the lead she went.

This was another bad day for Helen Nelson who had an elimination with Chad. Sarah-Jayne Davies with Rock Deejay tried hard but 32.51 would not be fast enough. Will Rolfe, Shauna Lyons, Jannyne Holmes, Alan Wildman and Angela Williams (with a limp), all either clear or with faults, would not be good enough.

We had to wait until the 11th runner for our next handler to be in contention and that was young Alyson Martin with Sunny Jim. With a determined look on her face and everyone keeping their fingers crossed, she must have been fuelled with alcohol as she went round the course in 31.45 seconds and hence into the lead.

But it wouldnít stay that way for long as next to run in twelfth place, fresh from her triumphal win at the Highland Agility Stakes Finals the previous Saturday was Pat Brown with Bailstails First Edition. She took almost a second off Alysonís time to go clear in 30.65 seconds and into the lead.

David Munnings with Mister Billy Whizz put in a fast clear in 30.95, just 0.30 behind Pat Brown to go into second place, swiftly followed by Lee Gibson with Taddymoor Jack on 31.39 to go into third place. Of the last five dogs to go, there were three eliminations by Linda Hutchinson, Lorna Peachey and Greg Derrett who had had a very unlucky event throughout. Also Jo Rhodes and Fiona Vaughan, although having clear rounds, were just out of the places on time. So hard luck to them, especially Jo who finished in sixth place.


Winners

 

Handler

Dog

Time

Faults

1

Pat Brown

Bailstails First Edition

30.65

Clear

2

David Munnings

Mister Billy Whizz

30.95

Clear

3

Lee Gibson

Taddymoor Jack

31.39

Clear

4

Alyson Martin

Waggerland Sunny Jim

31.45

Clear

5

Hannah Banks

Wildkap Wannabe

31.80

Clear

Invitation event winner: Will Rolfe with Madmag Magic Moment
Invitation event runner-up: Helen Nelson with Wholly Chad

So that was the first four semi finals for Olympia over, with three more to go at the Town & Country Festival.

Thank you
A special thanks to the Kennel Club and Pedigree for supporting what is no doubt the most highly regarded set of agility events in the UK, if not the world. Also as Graham says in his report, my heartfelt thanks to our bunch of stalwart helpers - Roger and Pauline Churchill, Rob Hunter, Liz and Alan Pollock and my secretary Helen for organising the running orders and driving them over every evening.

Judges Report
To be asked to judge the Olympia Semi final was a great honour and also a weighty responsibility and I can honestly say that more than a few hours and a few sleepless nights went into the planning of the courses and on the lead up to the event.

I tried to set flowing courses that also gave the handlers and dogs a few choices to make in the way that they were handled. This was, after all, a public event and the lead in to one of the most prestigious finals in the year where the courses were going to be fast and furious.

Day 1 soon arrived and the nerves were still jangling a bit, but all the competitors were great. As soon as the competition started my nerves disappeared as I witnessed some of the best dogs and handlers in the country show just how good the standard is in Britain today.

The competition over all four days was of the highest standard and was conducted in the best possible atmosphere and spirit. I was exhausted at the end as I think I ran each course with each competitor and also felt their joy at qualifying or their disappointment at not.

I had a great time and enjoyed the experience and I hope that the majority enjoyed the courses that I set. (They can't have been too bad as I didn't get a slagging on the net.)

Thank you
My thanks must go to the Kennel Club and Pedigree for placing their trust in me to officiate at this event and also to the organising crew of Dave Ray, Roger and Pauline Churchill, Rob Hunter and Alan Pollock for their help and support throughout the event and especially to Liz Pollock who fed and watered us all and sustained me throughout.

 

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