22/03/20

This weeks focus is on the other events our MT’s took part in at Crufts this year.
I think we were lucky it wasn’t cancelled given the situation we now find ourselves in!!
Firstly a few words from Manchesters Reunited Obreedience team captain Jean Walker:
Crufts, Thursday 5th March 2020, the much anticipated final of the Obreedience Competition.
Twenty-five teams have battled at heats throughout the year, and the top ten, with allowances made for the various breed groups, were ready to strut their stuff in the Obedience ring at the NEC.
Each team hoped that their dogs and handlers could cope with the crowds, the long day, and the pressure, and produce their best possible performance to win the day.
This year, I and my girl Briar, who is on maternity leave, were not competing.
However, I, as captain, had a very strong squad from which to select my team, and I was confident that they could deliver the goods.
The team consisted of Helen Fletcher and Shimmy, Brenda Harrison with Sadie, and Ann and Chris Harrison with Sophie and Teal respectively.
Lesley Olbinson and Grace, and Lavinia Paxton with Donald were very competent reserves if needed.
We knew that the competition would be late into the ring; in actual fact it got underway shortly before 5pm, and was largely played out in front of empty seats.
However, those spectators who did remain were very enthusiastic, and gave all the teams in the parade a good reception. I was pleased to be able to lead our team out, brandishing the MRU mascot to special cheers from our supporters.
Our team heelwork was very pleasing, four dogs and handlers co-ordinating and  completing the necessary elements very well.
The marks they received kept us in the top half, but I, who could be said to perhaps be a little prejudiced, had hoped they might be given a few more. We were paid many complements by onlookers on the quality of our heelwork.
It was all to play for when the individual exercises took place, Manchesters Reunited being last to run. Shimmy and Sophie were among the top scorers for scent and stop the dog, but a small deviation from the script during the send to bed cost Sadie a few marks, and we finished the day in fifth place.
A team event like this requires not just excellent work but that little bit of luck. When you make your entry you know this. Many of the well fancied teams fell by the wayside this year, and I can’t help thinking that because the event is held so late in the day, the dogs are tired and jaded by the time they have to perform.But it is the same for every team.
I enjoyed my day immensely, and can’t wait to take part again in the heats ready for next year.
I was very proud of Manchesters Reunited as a team. They looked a picture and were a credit to our breed. And I also want to mention again our reserves Grace and Donald and their handlers, whose enthusiastic support added so much to our confidence. Congratulations to the winners, the Sheltie Superstars, and to all the placed teams.
I can’t finish this report, however, without a mention of the retrieve and the indomitable Teal.
She has to get the to the accolade for the most memorable exercise of the whole competition.
In her eagerness to do the retrieve she slammed on the brakes so hard that her rear end kept on going, and she did a perfect handstand before completing her exercise to an almost perfect score!
There was much laughter and appreciation from the crowd, and I am sure this is the wonderful image that many people will take home from Crufts Obreedience final 2020!
Next a report from Ann Harrison who, with Chris, took on the organisation and set up of this years Discovery Dogs stand:
The Crufts Discover Dogs Breed Stand 2020 was as busy as ever.  With Gill Knight stepping down after many successful years we had a hard act to follow in setting up a Stand that maintained the theme of promoting healthy, correct and versatile dogs that will primarily be fantastic family pets.  The welfare of dogs and people are always at the forefront, so we had signs asking people to sanitise their hands BEFORE stroking our dogs and we were impressed by how well this was received by the public and the bio security staff on site.
Estella Saxton undertook the mighty task of distributing tickets to the troops and sorting the rota.  Starting proceedings on Thursday were Linda Walker and breed stand experts Sheldon and Penny with Flyball Champions Team Focus’s Garry and Rachael Minnikin with Onyx and young Zircon.  In the afternoon Kaz Spence with Roxy and Christy Straughan and Darren Templeman with Murphy and Faith took over.  They reported repeat visits from potential owners.
On the second day Sonia Owcarek and Nigel Keates with Billy, Pixie, Betty and Mabel modelled the famous Mabel hats (the dogs, not the handlers!) before Lesley and Elsie Olbinson, Jane Aspden and Dianne Church took over with Mr D, Grace (reserve in the 5th placed Obreedience Team), Tony and Oakley.
The weekend stint began with Sue and John Pinkham and Vicki Sharpe with Lexi, Katie and Otto, followed in the afternoon by Chris and Dawn Boot and me with the other Chris with Reggie looking resplendent in his bow tie,  Ash, and members of the 5th placed Obreedience Team, Sophie and Teal.
The final day saw the younger generation in action with the Hall family of Barry, Gayle, Tabitha and Freddie with Jazz, (who impressed the crowds by not taking a proffered treat from a child’s hand until given the OK by Barry), Megan and Indi O’Neill (fresh from her Young Handler success at the Breed Show) with Jax and Laurence and Ann Spain with Chester (who went on to win the Reserve Dog CC in the afternoon’s Showing) and Ronnie.  Rounding off the weekend in the afternoon were Julie Bearder with Jester, who entertained the crowds with a whole bag of tricks, and repeat performances from Linda with Sheldon and Penny and me with Sophie and Teal.
Crufts is a hot and noisy environment and you do have to repeat yourself quite a bit, so the voice does tend to fade after a 3.5-hour stint.  Reports indicate however, that the newbies to the job enjoyed the experience and we hope we have some new converts to the Breed Promo circuit.  It is always lovely to welcome familiar faces as well as knowledgeable people from other breeds and this year we were blessed with informed enquiries varying from would-be owners to a potential breed judge.  Thank you so much everyone that came to support and promote the Manchester Terrier be it by manning the stand or by your support in coming to see us.
Lastly but by no means least, the fantastic result for Garry & Racheal’s Onyx as part of Focus flyball team.
This time it’s a report from myself after a catch up with Garry after the Finals.
This year was the first year I had managed to get into the main ring to watch the semi finals live and the atmosphere was amazing! I even managed to sweet talk my way in to see the team before they went in to wish them luck and give Onyx a good luck hug!!
Focus Crufts Flyball Champions 2020
Garry has always from a young boy wanted a Manchester Terrier, in 2015 he got in contact with Estella Saxton and met with her, Phil and their dogs, later that year he was informed that there was a pup available to him. Garry made the promise to Estella that he would put Onyx (Rattustrap Tantalum) on the green carpet and the tv for the flyball at Crufts.
Training Onyx for flyball has had its ups and downs and Onyx had a bit of a setback when she encountered a freak accident in late 2018 and alot of work had to be put in to regain her confidence.
Focus Flyball Team have continued their faith in Garry and Onyx and she remains the height dog on the top team.
Focus went in to the quarter finals at Crufts on the Friday and had to win their first race to ensure that they progressed through to the semi finals the following day, their team captain ran the line up of Mouse, Kenai, Panik and Onyx, Focus ran clean and beat Cambridgeshire well and that guaranteed their semi final place the very next day. All other races on the Friday were for places on that day. The team captain chose to alter the line ups several times so that he could rest dogs and equally give every dog and handler the opportunity to run at Crufts.
In to the semi finals and Focus were drawn against their good friends Killie Flyers, Onyx was rested for the first race as she does have a tendency to spit her ball the very first leg and there was no warm up race, Focus won this race and guaranteed their place in the final.
Focus then had to race Aces High who were the 2019 Champions, at 1 leg each and being best of 3 legs it went to the decider, Aces had a light for a spat ball and Focus were running clean but the spat ball from Aces rolled in to Focus’s lane and Roscoe the Vizsla stopped to pick up that ball at the exact point that Garry released Onyx, this resulted in 2 dogs in the lane at the same time, the judge called for distraction which was the correct call and the leg was rerun. Aces ran clean in the rerun and Focus finished 3rd in the semi finals but had done enough to qualify for Sunday’s final.
It was Finals day and Focus were drawn against Brigg Mutley Crew, Focus ran well and won the race, this meant they were racing against Karmandos (Garry and Onyx’s previous team that they raced with), the winner of this race would be crowned champions.
The first leg Focus ran clean and won on speed, the second leg there was a spat ball from Focus, the atmosphere was electric and very tense, could Focus hold their nerves as they went in to the final leg, Craig their team captain changed the order that the dogs ran in which turned out to be a very good tactical call, Focus ran tight and both sides got an early light but Focus had gained a huge advantage due to being the faster team and reran the handler fault of an early cross and came back faster than Karmandos and were duely crowned Crufts 2020 Flyball Champions.
There was tears of jubilation and some emphatic celebrating. I asked Garry how he felt afterwards and he said he was so proud of Onyx but more proud of the whole team and their achievement as flyball is a team sport and every person and every dog plays a part.
Garry comented:
Still not sure how this happened as it was all a blur.
We went in to that arena today with 8,000 people watching and the arena commentator got the crowd going to the point that they were stamping their feet, this freaked Onyx and blew her little head, I chose not to run her as knew she would fault.
Everything we do we do as a team and the win for the team was the most important as our team motto is “We Win And Lose Together”.
The racing was good and our team captain played it tactically right, over the full 3 days that we’ve raced we haven’t run the same team line up in more than 2 races.
I’m so proud of the team and my little girl Onyx, I’m so pleased with the support from all you MT folk and hope we’ve done you proud.
Thanks go to all the guys in the team and also my wife Rachael for both keeping me calm, supporting my dream and having the little job of being the Focus Box Loader in the final, she literally has 1.7 seconds to reload the box with a tennis ball.
Estella & Phil thanks for everything that you’ve done for us, you entrusted us with not just one dog but two, you’ve given advice and listened even when we’ve disagreed but most of all you are with Phil really good friends.
Estella I promised you I would get you a dog on the green carpet and the TV, you trusted Rach and I and you let us own a dog that has been part of the team that have become Crufts Flyball Champions.
We Win And Lose Together.
I think it’s safe to say our breed was well represented this year and am looking forward to seeing how everyone progresses ready for 2021.
However two weeks have passed and since then everything has gone crazy all over the world! No shows or events until at least June so there won’t be much for me to report on!! If anyone has any funny or interesting stories, any ideas to help keep everyones pooches busy and they’d like to share with the MT family please send them to me and I will put them in the notes.
Everyone take care, stay safe and remember everyone is in this together so be nice.
Lesley Olbinson.

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