• Show Date: 29/10/2023
  • Show Type: Championship Show
  • Judged by: Andrew H. Brace Contact Judge
  • Published Date: 30/10/2023

Midland Counties Canine Society




In 2015 I had the great honour of judging all the Groups and Best In Show at Midland Counties, an appointment which I still consider one of the highlights of my judging career. This year again I judged Best In Show but today’s appointment was rather poignant as the original judge who was approved for the appointment was the late Per Iversen, one of Scandinavia’s most respected all-rounders who was a frequent and popular visitor to the UK. This should have been Per’s first UK Best In Show appointment so I was extremely touched to be invited in his place.

I judged my first UK Best In Show at a general Championship show in 1988 when I did so on my then home ground for the South Wales Kennel Association and today’s was my 21st Best In Show. I can honestly say that this was the strongest BIS line-up I have ever judged, anywhere in the world, and I thank the group judges for giving me such a headache!

From the first day came the Terrier Group winner, the Smooth Fox, Wilberg’s Ch Kanix Quickstep, a bitch of the highest quality whose forehand and expression are so impressive and who moves so true on the out and back, never losing her balanced outline, and the Toy Group winning Miniature Pinscher, Watkins & Bugden’s Ch Hawksflight Hot Pursuit, a red male so clean-cut and screaming quality whose static outline instantly catches the eye and holds it and whose movement in profile is just perfect for the breed. He was very much the baby in the line-up and I suspect that next year he will continue to make his presence felt at the highest level

The second day was devoted to Gundogs and the group winner was Cox’s Clumber Spaniel, Sh Ch Vanitonia Soloist, such agile Clumbers don’t grow on trees and seeing this male power around the ring convinces that he could do the job he was bred for.

Day Three brought forward two males, the Australian Shepherd, Raymond, Shaw & Kirtley’s Ch Brighttouch Drift The Line Through Dialynne (Imp Rus), and the Basset Hound, both of whom I had judged previously this year, the Aussie being my Group winner at Blackpool and the Basset winning BOB and BIS4 at Munster Agricultural Canine Society in Ireland. The Pastoral Group winner is the ultimate show dog who never puts a foot wrong and was in the most magnificent condition, perfectly groomed and handled. Point for point he fits his Breed Standard like a glove and there is nothing I would change about him. The Hound Group winner, Blevins’ Basset Hound, Ch & Irish Ch Blevwil Kenny Dewitt, is another beautifully conditioned dog whose carriage and deportment will always impress and he is so true out and back, holding his outline at all times.

The final day saw the St Bernard bitch, Deegan & Grainger’s Ch Chandlimore Heart Beat, topping the Working Group who, like the Australian Shepherd, had won the Group under me at Blackpool and the Akita male, Bevis, Corr & Venezia Ch Stecal’s All Guns Blazing. The St Bernard is a fine example of thoughtful and dedicated breeding as she loses nothing in breed type but producing one of a giant breed that is so wonderfully constructed, sound and free on the move and in such spanking condition is quite an achievement. The Akita radiates breed type, is perfectly balanced, full of quality, and essentially masculine without being coarse and his movement is spot on. He too had the benefit of expert handling and presentation.

So, having completed the hands-on examination and gaited the dogs individually I realised that hairs had to be split. It wasn’t going to be easy so I was now looking for the dogs who had that extra charisma and convinced me that they should be called to the boards!

After more circuiting of the big ring I decided that the Australian Shepherd and Akita were just giving that little extra and so this pair were sent around again before I pointed to the Aussie as Best In Show and the Akita Reserve.

On reflection I concluded, in these not-so-optimistic times, that this competition reflected the very best of British dogdom as those who didn’t make the final placings were so sporting and generous in their acceptance of my final awards and warmly congratulated the winners in a manner seldom seen outside the USA. This was a BIS appointment I will never forget.