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Good bye to one of the greats...

The remarkable agility career and partnership that Nigel Staines and Ag.Ch. Dragonheart Dark Destroyer AW/G (Zico) ) have shared for the last 12 years has come to an end but it cannot go unmentioned. Nigel and Zico have been the outstanding ABC partnership over the past 10+ years. Not only have they dominated the ABC world, but they have competed at the highest levels, becoming an Agility Champions and representing their country at the European Open and World Agility Open. It's been a  career that anyone would be proud of. Bethany Todd has complied a list of some of Zico's glittering achievements.

On 1 May 2002 a little Australian Kelpie was born. Little did Nigel know that the puppy he had just collected and tucked into his pocket would go on to become one of Britain's most successful agility dogs. Zico was the first Large dog to gain the Kennel Club Bronze, Silver and Gold Warrant awards with now having more than 10,000 points.

She started as she meant to go on, with 35 wins in Novice. She now has just over 350 wins, over 2000 top 10 places, and has taken part in over 40 National Finals, her last only a few months ago, coming 2nd in the Dog Vegas Pairs final and the ABC final and still winning Grade 7 classes. She has only ever missed six contact points in her very long career.

A true Champion
Zico won her first National Championship just after her fourth birthday, winning the Jumping round, the Agility round and then the Final. Her second Championship win was only a month later. She became an Agility Champion in 2007 with four Champ wins and several Reserve tickets under her belt. She still holds the breed record for number of Championship wins.

Her ABC domination has been immense. Amongst her other achievements are:-

  • First ABC dog to get to the Olympia Senior Final

  • The only dog to have won the ABC Olympia Stakes title twice (2007 & 2009) and being runner up twice, appearing seven times in total. In 2007 she won the qualifier, the Semi-final and the Final

  • Winning the National ABC Dog of the Year Title (Agility Eye Magazine) eight years in total as well as being The Agility Voice Advanced Dog of the Year three times and also runners up twice

  • Twice Crufts ABC Champion, plus runner up twice and four times Crufts Team Finalist.

  • The only dog to win the Pedigree Highland Final morning and afternoon events on the same day

  • Double world medallist, bringing home Bronze medals in 2011 and 2012 and coming 4th in the European Open Agility Finals 2008 whilst representing Great Britain

  • Burgess Supadogs Advanced Champion

  • Crufts Singles Finalist 2008, having won the overall points table

Four interesting facts about Zico you might not know
1) Away from agility, Zico has taken time out to have two litters, having ten puppies in total, five of which are competing at Grade 7. Her daughter, Cougar (Morgans Assassin AW/G) is carrying on the winning streak by taking the 2013 ABC Olympia title, Nigel's fourth win.

2) Involvement in a road accident on the way home from coming 2nd in the Advanced Power&Speed Final in 2008 left Nigel's van crushed aqnd Zico with a serious shoulder injury when the crate she was in was crushed to less than half its size. But plenty of rest and physiotherapy soon brought her back to the competition ring.

3) Zico has only ever had one lead. It has been with her at every training session and competition run she has ever done.

4) The most amazing fact that most people are unaware of is Zico is actually Medium height! She started competing on the old jump height and Nigel chose not to have her measured for Medium when the Kennel Club rule for Large came into effect, just so that he could run her in his favourite event, the ABC Olympia Stakes.

Early retirement
Unfortunately, just as she was starting her training to defend her world title in Spain in May 2011, Zico became very ill, losing a third of her body weight and nearly losing her fight for life. She gathered all the strength she could to pull through it, but was left with permanent medical problems so she's had to retire from agility. She now spends her days going for walks, playing ball or curling up on her armchair.

First and foremost, Zico is the dog who stole Nigel's heart and makes him so proud. He says she has the fight of a lion. Let's hope that fight continues.

 To Zico.
A true champion by any standard from your friends


Greg Derrett
Nigel and Zico have been the outstanding ABC partnership over the past 10+ years. He has not only dominated the ABC but competed at the highest levels becoming an Agility Champ and representing his country at the EO and WAO. A career anyone would be proud of and I hope Zico has a happy and long retirement.

Bethany Todd
Five years ago I watched this bald bloke from afar who was just in a bubble with his little kelpie - no lead, walking to the ring, dog staring and barking at him. He had a big smile, did a perfect run, then a massive game of tuggy at the end, ignoring everyone - just him, his dog, in their own little world.

Mike Richardson
I've been asked to say a little bit about Zico and Nigel.

What can I say apart from what a team! And that's from someone who has competed against Team Zico the whole time she and Nigel have been competing together in Agility.

Zico has had success in almost every part of agility in the UK and overseas. She has been in every final in agility that I can remember and has turns to die for. She can wrap herself round wings and drop the other side of fences like a plane dropping out of the sky.

I remember a few years ago at SKC Champ final Fly and I were leading the class and then up stepped Zico and Nigel. Right up to the wall, they were behind our time. Then Nigel dropped Zico so tight over the wall that we were level on time, and the end result was that Zico won the Champ class by 1/100th of a second and Fly was demoted to Reserve. It was the turn at the wall that clinched it.

The other memorable time was at the Highland Finals when we all travelled up together. The discussion on the way up was to train in the warm up round and go steady and push the final. Well, Nigel had different plans. When he got in the ring, he pushed the Semi and won it. Then Zico won the Final as well. So well worth the trip to Scotland for Zico. 

As well as producing some top class agility offspring because Nigel is keen to widen the gene pool of the Kelpie in the UK and has gone to great lengths to make this happen by importing his stud dog Zuma from Australia.

Zico is an inspiration to non Collie owners and shows that with the right training and attitude any breed can make Agility Champ and AWG.  It has been a pleasure travelling to shows up and down the country with Zico and Nigel even kipping on a double air bed In the back of my van with Nigel on occasions.  Happy retirement, Zico. It's been a pleasure competing against a dog of your ability. Your have been an inspiration to a lot of people and have put lots of smiles on the face of Nigel Staines.

Wishing Zico all the best in her retirement.

About the author...
Bethany Todd, Orthopaedic Veterinary Nurse and owner of three rescue collies. She competes in agility with her young dog Wilf (MorgansR Smooth Criminal) at Grade 7 and helps out at Dark Destroyer Agility, run by her fiancée Nigel, as his motivator under the Todds Intensive Training Scheme or TITS which Nigel loves.

First published: 3 March 2014



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