MASTIFFS AT CRUFTS 2006

Judge: Mr Peter J Sarjeant

May I begin with some observations that will probably not be included in my critique as published in the dog press but might be of general interest.

It was, of course, a very great honour and privilege to be invited by our Kennel Club to judge at this most prestigious show and to receive an entry of 95 (finally) dogs for competition. On the day and in spite of the early start time for judging, there must have been a possible record low number of absentees – only 17, I think – and I must place on record my thanks and appreciation to all exhibitors for this level of support which contributed to a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable day.

It is less than two years since my last Mastiff judging appointment in the U.K. - at the East of England show, a summer event, grass ring, fresh air etc. – and I was expecting that the Crufts indoor environment at the NEC would place some performance restrictions on the exhibits for which I was prepared to make allowances. In fact, I was more impressed by the general standard of movement in the ring here with very few exhibits being less than acceptable. Perhaps the phase in the recent past when observers have criticised mastiff movement so harshly is coming to an end ?

But is this positive indicator, I wonder, related to two other issues which presented as judging progressed. Firstly, I had a growing awareness that size and substance were no longer the predominant features in the breed that they were; and, secondly, that too many exhibits did not display the required length of body to give the overall proportions that the breed standard requires. In some classes, when the dogs were lined up to give me a good view of side profile, less than half displayed the proportionate body length that I was ideally looking for; and a few were so short that I noted them as more resembling a mastiff head on a bullmastiff body.

Head style which defines mastiff ‘type’ is of tremendous significance in our breed, but I hope that I have never given the impression that it is so vital as to warrant the exclusion of the other important breed points when placing the dogs. I tend to take a very holistic view on each exhibit’s impression and performance on the day; and can well understand the consternation of some breed purists who perceive a lack of consistency in ‘type’ on my part when placing. Indeed, the variety of type was so extreme in some classes, it would have been an impossible goal even if that had been my aim !

As judging continued during the morning, I was pleased with progress until the open dog class which provoked a serious dilemma for which I used far more time for consideration than I would have wished to. Not a large class – only six present of the eight entered but so extreme in qualities to be assessed. Included was what I now know to be a champion in four east European countries and making his UK debut. His enormous size, profile, power and ring presence impressed me greatly but my concern was that his head proportions were, in my opinion, not fully consistent with his overall size. This exhibit, in competition with others in the class with more ‘typical’ and attractive heads but other detractions, was the real source of the dilemma and although it was the visitor who (eventually) won the class and Reserve CC on the basis of his many good breed points, how I would have preferred the head of my second placed dog on the body of, and moving with the drive of the class winner.

The bitches were less problematic, and when I was finally able to browse the catalogue after judging was over, it was reassuring to see that my 1st & 2nd in Special Junior were litter sisters; as were my Post Graduate and Limit winners; and very appealing representatives of the breed they were. Judging to ‘type’ is possible – sometimes !

When my CC winners (the winner of the limit dog and open bitch) returned to the ring for their final challenge, I was completely satisfied that either could go forward into the group competition as worthy and well qualified representatives of the Mastiff breed. It was the bitch to take BOB though on the basis of her maturity, elegance and fluency of movement in the final run; but I congratulate them both on their excellent performances.

BOB - Ch. Lady Lavinia

Dog CC - Bronson Bromley

Bitch CC - Ch. Lady Lavinia

Res. Dog CC - RUS/LUX/HU Korosdombi Lyon

Res. Bitch CC - Ch. Rhilaubekan Brynewydd of Bredwardine

Best Puppy - Chevelu Easter Parade for Heffalump

Best Veteran - Ch. Fearnought The Barbarian

 

Veteran Dog (3/2a)

1st - Ch. Fearnought The Barbarian (Payne)

7 y.o. mature fawn, looking fit and well, good black mask & ears, benevolent expression, moved steadily and with great dignity.

- Best Veteran -

 

Special Puppy Dog (6/1a)

1st - Chevelu Easter Parade for Heffalump (Dodd-Utting)

11 m.o. fawn, very well grown and strongly built; would have preferred slightly more pigmentation; nicely developed broad deep chest; good body length; excellent topline and rear angulation; moved fluently for his age.

- Best Puppy -

2nd - Cyberus The Outlaw (Andrews)

13 m.o. dark brindle; better mask than 1st, good expression, strong construction, well grown, though not maintaining topline; slightly erratic on the move.

3rd - Chevelu Godric Gryffindor at Tresylyan TAF (Taylor)

11 m.o. fawn, litter brother to 1st and very similar in appearance & construction. Not showing the same good angulation but moved well.

Res. - Kumormai Diable (Coulman-Hole)

VHC - Kumormai Zephyros (Maher)

 

Special Junior Dog (6/0a)

1st - Rhilaubekan Lancet of Bredwardine (Tugwell & Thomas)

15 m.o. fawn with very pleasing head style, dark mask & ears, good expression. Broad deep chest, good topline, nice profile, good angulation; fit, moved soundly and with drive.

2nd - Mansuetude Vertical Vision (Broomfield)

15 m.o. brindle of good size and proportion; nice head and expression; deep broad chest; good body length and rear angulation; moved well.

3rd - Magisterial Heavy Load (Hardy)

12 m.o. clearly marked dark brindle; slightly plainer in head than 2nd; nice deep chest, some rear angulation; moved reasonably.

Res. - Carlberg at Swainsi (White)

VHC - Morganlefay Danshe (Bowdery)

 

Post Graduate Dog (10/0a)

1st - Cwmtysswg Gladiator of Merrywyck (Baker)

2 y.o. fawn, medium size but very nicely constructed and with excellent profile. Pleasing head style and expression, good mask & ears; moved fluently.

2nd - Valesco De Molossie (Bellotto & Laubriat)

21 m.o. good size fawn with much appeal but I preferred the head type of 1st Broad deep chest, good body length and rear angulation; moved with drive.

3rd - Klanzmun Quintillus via Kumormai (Knight)

18 m.o. fawn, another of medium size with good type and profile. Moved soundly but not with the drive and enthusiasm of my 2nd place.

Res. - Klanzmun Flavius Vaspasian (Frew)

VHC - Namous Naturally Curious (Blaxter)

 

Limit Dog (12/0a)

1st - Bronson Bromley (Simper)

A strong, fit and alert fawn with very appealing head and mask, wonderful expression, and displaying good proportion and balance. He moved soundly and powerfully, displaying great ring presence throughout.

- Dog CC & BOS -

2nd - Orkadis Aberdeen Angus of Tariya (Williams)

Apricot fawn; not the size, substance or head quality of 1st but very nicely proportioned with broad deep chest, good topline and an appealing profile. Moved freely.

3rd - Bulliff Erk (Say)

Brindle of good size and ample substance. Very broad skull, broad deep chest with spacious well rounded ribcage. Good topline but would have preferred slightly more body length to compliment his girth and more rear angulation.

Res. - Darkling Joshua of bredwardine (McCulloch &Williams)

VHC - Wardien Paternoster Sq (Lyons)

 

Open Dog (8/0a)

1st - Rus/Lux/Hu Korosdombi Lyon (Golnikova)

It is a long time since I saw a mastiff male even approaching the size and power of this exhibit and I was greatly impressed by his many good qualities – superb broad deep chest, very good body length, perfect topline and angulation, supremely fit, and moving with great power and fluency. His head size and style however were not as impressive and although I was happy to award him 1st place and Res CC on the basis of his considerable merit, my concern remains as regards his typicality.

- Res. Dog CC -

2nd - Ch. Faynad King Of Our Cottage (Zadeh)

A much more conventional fawn than my 1st; with very appealing head style, mask and expression. Strong neck, great substance, broad deep chest, good topline, powerful quarters and excellent movement; but he did not have the body length to make the profile that I was ideally looking for.

3rd - Beezaville Coram Judice (Taylor)

Dark brindle of considerable quality. Slightly plainer in head than my 1st & 2nd but showing great presence; with very good proportions, strong quarters, good angulation and sound movement.

Res. - Valesco De Molossie (Bellotto & Laubriat)

VHC - Ch. Kumormai Crouching Tiger (Knight)

 

Special Puppy Bitch (8/0a)

1st - Kumormai Khamsin (Knight)

13 m.o. fawn showing lots of promise. Very appealing head & feminine expression, good mask and ears, nicely constructed, excellent proportions,

good angulation, moved well.

2nd - Chevelu Easter Bunny (Duval)

An addition to the catalogue entry, very nice light fawn at a different stage of development to my 1st; slightly longer muzzle, attractive head, taller but not yet reached the broadening chest phase. Nice length of body, moved & handled well.

3rd - Cyberus Carnelian (Andrews)

13 m.o. brindle and a slow developer. Very nicely constructed, good in profile but not the level of maturity of my 1st & 2nd . Moved soundly.

Res. - Meticulous Matilda at Avadelyon (Lyons)

VHC - Damaco Denbar (McCulloch & Williams)

 

Special Junior Bitch (6/0a)

1st - Mansuetude Dark Desire (Broomfield)

15 m.o. brindle, pleasing head, good mask and ears, nice in profile, good size and topline, adequate angulation, moved and handled well.

2nd - Mansuetude Talivaldi Storm (Scott)

15 m.o. fawn; appealing head and expression, not quite the bone and substance of 1st but good size for age. Developing nicely, moved freely.

3rd - Star Of Tara (Cullen)

17 m.o. fawn with pleasing head and alert expression; good mask though would have preferred more ear pigmentation. Good profile and angulation. Moving rather closely in front – may improve with maturity.

Res. - Queen Of Iceni at Regallian (Lock)

VHC - Sarrecen Dark Angel at Belushi (Rodgers & Fletcher)

 

Post Graduate Bitch (10/0a)

1st - Fragilis Fanfare (Proudfoot)

20 m.o. dark brindle of excellent type and full of promise. Very strong feminine head and expression, excellent in profile, nice ribcage, good length, topline and angulation. Moved soundly.

2nd - Fearnought The Outkast (Payne)

23 m.o. brindle, not as strong in topline as my 1st, but pleasing head, good substance, nice body length and angulation, moving freely.

3rd - Cwmtysswg Miss Tee (Gittins)

2 y.o. fawn with nice head style, mask and ears, not the size or length of 1st & 2nd but showing good balance, topline and angulation. Moved soundly.

Res. - Rumcoat Dawn treader (Drury)

VHC - Friendly Fire of Dobunni (Smith)

 

Limit Bitch (12/0a)

1st - Fragilis Firienfeld for Hexnorden (Norris)

20 m.o. fawn of excellent type, profile and balance. Nicely proportioned head, good black mask and ears, good body length & angulation; moved freely and with drive.

2nd - Faynad Diva Of Our Dreams (Zadeh)

Fawn, larger and more substantial than 1st, very pleasing head and expression, good body length and angulation; not maintaining good topline or moving as fluently as 1st.

3rd - Gwenwhyfar's Brittania Rule The Waves (Tugwell & Thomas)

A darker fawn with good mask and ears, broad deep chest, good proportions, strong in back, nice angulation.

Res. - Cedwalla Sweet Clementine (Chidwick)

VHC - Chevelu Smarty Pants (Duval)

 

Open Bitch (14/0a)

1st - Ch. Lady Lavinia (Lock)

This mature fawn had the size, the quality of head, the profile and proportions, the ring presence and the elegance in movement on the day that could not be beaten.

- Bitch CC & BIS -

2nd - Ch. Rhilaubekan Brynewydd of Bredwardine (Tugwell & Thomas)

fawn of great quality, not the body length of 1st and not quite as settled and fluent in movement today, but strong and well constructed, very pleasing head style, substantial, good topline and angulation.

- Res. Bitch CC -

3rd - Int/Fr Ch. Sandrose Brullemail (Le Courtois)

Apricot, approaching 5 y.o. and looking her age but excellent head style, broad deep front, strong and sound in construction, and moving freely.

Res. - Jumas Joy at Cyberus (Andrews)

VHC - Huggedogge Gunilla of Sobriety IMP (Hill)

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