The countdown has started – only a few days left until the 7th edition of the Eukanuba World Challenge
All roads in the dog-showing world are leading to Florida, where the Eukanuba World Challenge will take place December 14-15th at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center. This unique competition, which brings together representative dogs from 37 countries around the world, is entering its seventh year, and will once again run alongside the AKC/Eukanuba National Championships.
Throughout 2013 dogs have earned their place in the competition by winning at various qualifying events in their respective countries. A total of 43 dogs along with their owners will be flown to Orlando for the chance to participate in this remarkable event!
If a week in sunny Florida isn't enough, the EWC qualifiers will also compete for the chance to win a $10,000 grand prize for the dog who emerges as Best In Show! Each dog will be assigned one of four non-geographical sections, and selected dogs will move forward to the final round under judge Mr Miguel Angel Martinez of Argentina. In addition to an overall winner, Mr Martinez will also choose a first and second runner-up.
Who will be Eukanuba's lucky ''Number Seven?" You can follow the action via Eukanuba's free live-streaming during the event (www.eukanuba.co.uk/eukanubworldchallenge), and through the Eukanuba World Challenge page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/eukanubaworldchallenge) !
Interview with EWC first ever winner Laurent Pichard
Laurent Pichard of Switzerland was the breeder of the first every Eukanuba World Challenge BIS Winner, the American Cocker ''CH Very Vigie Vamos a la Playa'' back in 2007. We asked him to share with us his feelings about being part of the inaugural event and how he sees the EWC today.
We were already enjoying a great year with our boy, ''Vamos.'' He had been named Switzerland's Dog of the Year, and then we learned that Eukanuba was planning a big competition in America for dogs from around the world. ''Vamos'' was invited to represent our country there, so without any time to plan or consider we just said ''Yes!''
We were just excited to be involved. I already knew the great reputation of the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship shows, so to be part of the this new global event was a big honor. But to be honest we never thought we had any chance to win! We planned to enjoy the event regardless of the outcome!
As soon as we arrived we realized that this was something very special. The organization was perfect. Every detail had been considered for us and we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves for the entire week.
Today this show is considered one of the best in the world. Obviously this is because the top dogs from around the world are invited. The glamour and organization that the Eukanuba team members help to create adds to this reputation. It is a place to go, to be seen, and it closes the long year of showing in great style!
Of course, to win was a special memory. But also the warmth and kindness from the other participants and exhibitors was touching. We received so many messages of congratulation from all over the world and those feelings will stay with me forever. I was proud that our team of handler, Hugues Schuh, and Vamos had the opportunity to show the world how very talented they are!''
I feel that if you get the chance to participate in this wonderful event, you MUST go, but not with the thought of winning. If you are so fortunate, then that is the icing on the cake. To be invited and to experience all that the show has to offer is the most important part.
Every minute of preparation is worthwhile … an Interview with Mr. EWC, Jose Luis Ibanez
Eukanuba's Jose Luis Ibanez is a friendly and familiar face at dog shows across Europe and beyond, and has been a prominent figure in the EWC since its inception. We spoke to him about how the World Challenge came about, and why he thinks that it has become such an key event on the dog show calendar.
Going back to the early days when the World Challenge was initially being developed, what role did Eukanuba hope it would take on?
Our very bold ambition was to create an unprecedented event that would quite literally bring the best dogs from around the world together to compete in a very unique setting. We realized that we could not do it alone and sought partners. The FCI, AKC and the Kennel Club provided support to help bring our vision to life. It fills us with pride that this event has grown from strength to strength, and to watch all of these worthy dogs in the ring together is pure joy.
So you feel that the EWC lives up to is reputation as a ''best of the best'' competition?
Absolutely, but don't just take my word for it, ask the participants, judges and spectators! The level of competition is tremendous: we can proudly say that we bring the best dogs from around the world together! In year one, no one knew what to expect from the show, and now everyone wants to be part of it. It's become a highlight in the yearly calendar of the dog fancy. People are referring to it as the ''Olympics for dogs!''
The logistics and planning involved must be an enormous task! Tell us about the team who helps make this happen?
You can't imagine the complexity of bringing dogs and owners from over 40 countries to the USA! We are fortunate to have a wonderful team who has supported us for many years with the event organization. They make sure that the wellbeing of the dogs is considered first and foremost, and that everyone has a smooth trip to Orlando.
But the planning for the final in December is only part of the story. There are so many things to be taken care of throughout the year. We have people on every continent working on EWC related topics, and during the last months there is work taking place from across the globe to make sure the event itself is a success.
Also the collaboration with the many Kennel Clubs from around the world is a big part of our success. A lot of forces need to join to make the EWC happen, but spending time with these enthusiastic, dog-loving people is just wonderful and makes every minute of preparation worthwhile!
What do you think makes the EWC so special and memorable for its participants?
Most definitely the unique set-up of the competition makes it exciting for exhibitors to be part of. The timing and location are just wonderful, and the Eukanuba team is very helpful and devoted to its guests.
To be in sunny Orlando in December, alongside the perfectly organized AKC/Eukanuba National Championships, is fantastic. The AENC is a huge crowd-puller and really draws the public along to celebrate this love of dogs we all share. For the participants to spend a week together creates a great sense of family, and I know the memories they take away will last a lifetime.
Most of us only see what takes place inside the ring. What are some aspects of the EWC that we may not realize?
For me the sense of community is the most striking, and that's something that doesn't come across on pictures or the live-streaming. You really have to experience it. People will arrive in Orlando as complete strangers and leave with new friends! They will stay in touch and go on to meet again at other shows around the world!
Tell us a memorable EWC moment during the past few years.
I would say the atmosphere during the opening ceremony, when all the participants enter the ring with their country's flag, can be very emotional and hence the most memorable from each year. It's one of the many things that make the EWC ''one of a kind'' and add to the sense of family that resonates throughout the show.
Interview with 2013 Best in Show judge Mr Miguel Ángel Martínez
As a judge what are you looking for each time you step into the ring?
Of course I am looking for the best dog, who is closest to an ideal breed standard. A dog which upon examination and with the naked eye displays the healthy and functional characteristics for which the breed was created.
What characteristics do you feel make up a Best in Show winner?
We are talking about exceptional dogs which are born with characteristics and qualities that make them stand out from the rest. The ones who ''want'' to be first over the rest. Then there is the development that comes through proper rearing and conditioning to create a dog who is the ''best'' in and out of the ring.
When two dogs are similar in quality how do you ultimately select one winner?
This is a very interesting challenge for the judge. After you have observed their physical qualities and movement, then you start to evaluate temperament, willingness and show attitude. After all this a winner will simply emerge.
Would you say that judging is a responsibility more than simply a task?
Yes. In fact, it is a great responsibility because a judge's selections can determine the future of a breed. These dogs will go on to be be used by breeders and produce the next generation of the breed.
Judging the ''Best in Show'' is always an exciting role. What are your expectations for the final of this unique competition?
You're right, to judge Best in Show is a great honor for a judge, and if we add the fact that the best dogs in the world will be competing in this unique event it gives me such great expectations for the finale!
To the exhibitors lucky enough to make it to the final round of the EWC, what advice would you offer them?
I would tell them to enjoy the moment because getting to that place is a great accomplishment. It is an honor that I hope will remain with them forever, so please cherish it!
Eukanuba World Challenge judges in 2013
Prior to judging, each of the 43 dogs will be assigned a non-geographic section by means of a public draw, and each section will be designated to one of four judges. Following the pre-judging of each grouping, the dogs and handlers will be put through their paces in the main arena on Saturday. At this point three dogs from each section will be chosen, and progress to Sunday night's final.
Best in Show judge Mr Miguel Angel Martinez has been given the enviable task of awarding an overall winner, as well as first and second runners-up.
The Eukanuba World Challenge is designed to bring the best dogs from around the globe together in one setting. Equally important are the credentials of the judges who select the ultimate winners.
We are proud that our 2013 panel is made up of 5 gentlemen who offer a wide array of talent and experience befitting the calibre of dogs who will be competing in Orlando.
MIGUEL ANGEL MARTINEZ
Judging BIS at the 7th annual Eukanuba World Challenge is Mr Miguel Angel Martinez of Argentina. Mr Martinez has enjoyed a long and varied career in the world of dogs. He has been a breeder and exhibitor of Pointers, Irish Setters, Viszla and Doberman Pinschers, and a sought-after judge of both conformation shows and field trial events. Mr Martinez has held many positions in canine organisations, including the role of President of Federacion Cinologica in Argentina from 1987-91 and currently. He is also President of the Americas and Caribbean Section of the FCI and a member of the FCI General Committee. He is approved to judge all breeds by the FCI, as well as the American & Canadian Kennel Clubs.
Purebred dog enthusiast Mr Zvi Kupferberg is a former President of the Israel Kennel Club. He has also formerly held the position of President of the IKC Judges Committee. He was one of Israel's original Basset Hound breeders, and has also been an avid Miniature Pinscher enthusiast. Fluent in three languages, Mr Kupferberg has judged extensively around the globe since 1976.
Born in Wales but living in the USA since the early 60's, Mr Peter Green holds the unique distinction of being the only handler to win Best in Show at both the Westminster Kennel Club as well and Great Britain's Crufts Dog Show. He is considered a Terrier expert, known particularly for his work in the Norfolk breed, but has been associated with many other outside that group including Pointers and Affenpinschers to name a few during his career as an all-breed professional handler in the United States. Since retirement from handling he has judged extensively in the USA and beyond, and awarded BIS at Crufts in 2009.
Mr Andras Korozs of Hungary is a well-known judge and breeder of Fox Terriers. His ''Agria'' prefix is linked to over 50 champions in both Smooths and Wires. Mr Korozs has judged for over two decades and has served the Hungarian KC in various capacities, including that of President which he currently holds. Mr Korozs was integral to the team which organised FCI World Dog Show in Budapest in 2013.
Mr Gerard Jipping of The Netherlands began his life in dogs as an Afghan Hound enthusiast in the late 70's. As an exhibitor he made up many champions in his home country as well as many others across Europe under the ''El Harakat'' banner. Judging his beloved Afghan breed was a natural progression, which eventually led to all of FCI Group 10, and now a variety of other breeds. He has served on FCI's General Committee since 2011, and this year became its Vice-President. Since 2004 Mr Jipping has been President of the Dutch Kennel Club ''Raad van Beheer.''
Behind the Scenes with Roxane Daunt
Since the Eukanuba World Challenge began in 2007, Roxane Daunt of Geneva has been a key contributor to its success. She is the chief organizer of Eukanuba events, and works tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that a smooth and successful World Challenge takes shape each December. Roxane's commitment to detail is legendary, as past participants will confirm. In honor of the EWC's seventh year, we asked Roxanne to share with us 7 interesting facts about the competition.
# 1 Marking the birth of the Eukanuba World Challenge:
As a result of the strong partnership with the FCI and the AKC the idea of a ‘Best of the Best Competition’ was born in May 2007 at the World Dog Show in Mexico. Remarkably, the team managed to make the event happen only 6 months later with 42 dogs in Long Beach, Florida.
# 2 Eukanuba team members who have been at every show:
The longstanding ‘dream team’ from Europe working on and visiting the World Challenge from the very beginning is made up by Jose Luis Ibanez, Mike Bloxsome, William Bredal and Stoycho Terziev (Roxane was on maternity leave when the first edition was held).
# 3 ‘Kg of dog’ flown to the US:
In 7 years (including this year’s edition) more than ‘6200kg of dog’ were sent to the US (Long Beach and Orlando).
# 4 Size of the EWC family:
Almost 1000 persons have been welcomed by Eukanuba in Long Beach and Orlando over 7 years including breeders, KC presidents, distributors and journalists. On top 307 dogs competed in 7 editions of the World Challenge.
# 5 Number of countries represented in the finals over the years:
Participants from 60 countries were taking part in the World Challenge finals in the US.
# 6 Number of different breeds represented in 7 years:
An astonishing number of 105 different breeds were participating in the World Challenge over the years.
# 7 Most represented breed in 7 editions:
The most popular breeds are Siberian Huskies (16 representatives), Dobermans and Afghan Hounds (both represented 13 times).
A front row seat at the World Challenge
Eukanuba is delighted to once again offer free live-streaming of all the dog show action taking place at Orlando's Orange County Convention Centre! Beginning in 2011, Eukanuba gave dog enthusiasts from around the world the opportunity to experience firsthand the excitement and drama surrounding the AKC/Eukanuba National Championships and the Eukanuba World Challenge.
The response has been incredible; in 2012 around 7000 viewers watched a total number of 5152 hours of live-streaming. Eukanuba World Challenge Live-stream hosts Andrew Brace and Gina di Nardo will be reporting from the main arena and offering some informative, behind-the-scenes insight to this year's proceedings. To put the cherry on the cake, UK Breeder Club Manager Mike Bloxsome will provide further insights by interviewing key people from the World Challenge family and beyond.
Even if you can't make it to Orlando, following along online is the next best thing! Pour a drink and take a front row seat at this most exciting event from the comfort of your home! For more information on how to access the live-stream, visit the Eukanuba World Challenge Facebook page (www.facebook.com/eukanubaworldchallenge)!
Hosts for 2013
Andrew Brace has worn many hats during his lifetime in the world of purebred dogs. Currently he is one of the UK's most popular and experienced dog show judges, whose career has taken him internationally to preside at some of the world's most prestigious events. He has also been a successful breeder and exhibitor, particularly known for his top winning Beagles. Andrew has a long involvement with the canine press, and is presently Consultant Editor of Britain's Dog World newspaper in which he writes a popular weekly column.
Gina di Nardo
As is so often the case in the dog show world, Gina di Nardo was quite literally born into the fancy. Her family are very well-known and experienced breeders of Doberman Pinschers, and Gina seemed destined carry on her family's love affair with that noble breed. She is a former Junior handler and went on to be a very successful owner-handler, winning with her dogs at the highest level. Today Gina is heavily involved in the governance of the American Kennel Club and makes regular appearances on national media programs on their behalf.