• Show Date: 25/06/2023
  • Show Type: Championship Show
  • Judged by: Andrew H. Brace Contact Judge
  • Published Date: 28/07/2023

Blackpool & District Canine Society

Breed: Group



Just as the Working Group, this was one of the strongest Pastoral Groups I’ve ever judged and so again there was another sizeable short list.

Included in my first cut were the Briard, Estrela Mountain Dog, German Shepherd Dog, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Picardy Sheepdog, each of which were excellent examples of their respective breeds but when it came to splitting hairs they didn’t make the second cut.

This included the beautifully balanced and wonderfully typical Bearded Collie and the extrovert and so correctly made Norwegian Buhund who had so much ring presence, which left me with an outstanding quartet for the final decision.

Utilising the huge ring, in which the dogs had the opportunity to give of their best, my winner was the exceptional blue merle Australian Shepherd male, Ch Brighttouch Drift The Line Through Dialynne (Imp Russia) who, with all due respect to his competition, dominated the ring from the moment he appeared. In gleaming condition, totally at one with his clever handler, from that first step he opened up and looked as if he was determined to win. The hands-on examination was a pleasure. His head fits his body, is clean cut, dry and well balanced with a moderate but well defined stop. His expression is bright, intelligent and his love of life is apparent from the start. The hands-on experience is a joy, from his dry, elegantly arched neck to his well-laid shoulders, through his well-sprung ribs to perfectly muscled and let-down hindquarters, he just rippled with muscle tone and condition. His coat was correctly textured and groomed to perfection and at all times he was on his toes, alert and interested in everything that was going on around him. His overall appearance and performance were flawless and I felt that on the day he was unbeatable. Despite the strongest of competition in the Best In Show ring I was delighted that Howard Ogden appeared to agree with me … congratulations!

Group 2 was the black & white Border Collie male, Thwaitlake Buzzman, who I understand had won his Championship title on the day. Symptomatic of the times we live in was having the indignity of a former Crufts Best In Show judge, completely unsolicited, walk up to tell me after the Group judging that “Your Border Collie was simply dreadful”. The opinion was neither asked for nor appreciated and I beg to differ! In my estimation this black and white Border has all the essentials of the breed, is correctly balanced with such impressive conformation and movement to match. His skull is fairly broad with distinct stop and perfectly proportioned. His eyes are just as the Standard calls for, giving him a mild, keen, alert and intelligent expression. Hands flow over him as he is essentially athletic yet with well-sprung ribs and optimum angulation front and back with a perfectly balanced outline. On the move he is smooth, tireless with exceptional reach and drive, displaying the correct carriage for the breed. Like the winner he was perfectly presented and handled.

Group 3 was the sable Shetland Sheepdog male, Ch Rannerdale Showmaster, and he is a classic example of a dog that needs to be handled to be appreciated as he may not be considered the flashiest. His head and expression are glorious – a smoothly contoured one-piece head with perfectly shaped, set and coloured eyes that give him such an enchanting expression when coupled with correctly set and shaped ears. His outline is well-balanced and flows from nose to tail, he handles so well on the table and his overall proportions and angulation are copybook. He is a smooth and sound mover, again beautifully conditioned, and makes a very handsome package.

Group 4 was the Polish Lowland Sheepdog bitch, Ch Mybeards Hera, who completed such an impressive quartet. I well remember 6 years ago awarding the Group to another from this kennel here at Blackpool and here I found the same quality and type. Workmanlike and substantial, yet still essentially feminine this bitch has a lot of breed type with her moderately broad skull, well-defined stop and essentially cobby body. She is well constructed and moved smoothly and soundly whilst a correctly textured coat finished the picture.