London Collie Club 11/6/17
Rough Collie Bitches

Enjoyable day at London Collie Club. Primarily of course due to the quality entry but also  the pleasant  atmosphere contributed  and I have to add no small part played by a venue which is truly fit for function for a  warm day such as this.. Speaking of  “fit for function” - For all of its interpretations there are still only so many words within a standard to rework into worthwhile descriptions so a judges task in this respect isn't necessarily an easy one. Still, even if editing isn't ones forte, and its not mine, and even if one fails to articulate  a viewpoint to universal satisfaction; its still the case that assuming one doesn't subscribe to a ringside judges club or my own particular pet hate, the often unwarranted and potentially damaging practice of pre writing catalogues and unwarranted prediction of results; then on those occasions when one has been invited to offer an opinion- it would seem quite legitimate to actually attempt to  give one. The practice elsewhere of verbal or written critiques for all entrants is not without its merits but for me personally it’s not without its limitations. Yes one can reflect an opinion relevant to the standard but - relative to the peers of each dog and therefore reflective of a decision, I feel not. My point- the grass is not always greener. Post show written critiques can at least offer some overview; sometimes a judge can "place" a remark not directly within a particular dogs report but within the broader text which is still relevant and recognised by the owner, sometimes there is as much said in what remains unwritten.

The breed comes in for quite some criticism, some of it well founded, much of it well articulated, most of it well intentioned. Just a little of it for my taste borders on the negative rather than the constructive and a sliver is a little self serving. For me the antidote to the latter unconstructive conversations (I use the word conversations loosely) is the opportunity to judge an entry such as this one here today. For you the British exhibitor, the antidote is the ability to produce entries such as this one today but for you the British breeder the real answer to the critics is in reproducing entries like this and that will mean a return to doing what you do best - and breeding again. Looking at your puppy classes today there is evidence of that.. My perspective is one of an” outsider” who began visiting shows here standing 3 and 4 deep with other visitors watching exclusively British dogs and now  returning  to judge in a quite different landscape. I have no particular commentary on the nationality of the dogs present in the rings these days, why would I, each to their own, it’s for no one to suggest from where one should draw stock. It’s a small world, a small gene pool and long gone are the days when borders dictated our choices. And yet.. and yet.. all that said, keeping hold somewhere at the back of the mind the notion that this is one of your native breeds can hardly do harm and just may yield dividends?  I hope the day is soon with us where between the home grown talent and those with which you have judicially chosen to supplement your own stock, there will be enough to mix and match and move properly forward. If any of which appears like a criticism, no, on the contrary , it  is a reminder that there are still "outsiders" who tend to look to the country of origin and home of the standard for direction and have a genuine desire to see you succeed in you efforts.

I will say that I left today rather more optimistic than when I arrived. Hopefully the team of stud dogs that will be required to be worthy of these nice bitches you have is available to you.  Just as an example I noted that the first two in the minor puppy class had the same sire, their grand sire fathered the first two in open, and their great grandsire produced the winner of post grad,   and that’s only one example  but  when you look,  the tail mails lines are still about. As always I attempted to look not only through my own eyes but to  see each dog with the eyes that its owner might view them and therefore recognise not just faults but to see the merits in all. Some continue to be frustrated by the insistence in some quarters to Pidgeon hole judges into either head or movement categories as if there wasn't the hope to find a balance of both. I tried to find  that balance,  those in the line up had a mix of head properties, shape and movement and  confidence and that was what was uniform  regardless of where they came from. I thought the post ticket run offs really lovely.
From the bitch ticket winner to those my co judges sent forward, the male on flying form, one couldn’t have asked for more from him,  to the lovely  record breaking smooth who topped the day – for me, irrespective of the fact that this was a breed club event, any one of them could walk into a group ring and  given fair judgement hold their own against any breed.   

Minor Puppy Bitch
And so the tone of the day was set for me - eight reasons to be hopeful here.
I "grew up" in the breed at a time when it was still common place to hear of a quality headed merle  being referred to as having a "sable head". Its a testament to the work of the British breeder that the phrase gradually became redundant .I’m perhaps looking through not rose but”  blue tinted spectacles”  but I had lately wondered however if we were seeing in various parts a broader spectrum of blue, some a little insipid but quite some tending towards the" muddy”, I’m perhaps wrong ?, in any event nice to see here blues of nice colour and also  real expression. So many variables, so many points of balance in our standard, adding to the mix the challenge of also getting that beautiful colour right - I do admire those who do so and get it right. (Makes one wonder given the scope of the challenge why anyone would wish to dabble in colours beyond the permissible in the county of origin..but that’s a whole other story).
1.  Randall’s Samhaven Hopeful Ladnar. Balanced in head, pleasing in expression, good ears well placed and used, even in this lovely class I felt this lady just so striking , super outline, good shoulder,  correct upper arm, straight front, good pasterns, the  reach of neck  undeniable here , enough through the ribs. Nice rear  quarters, turn of stifle and  good hocks. Showed and moved steadily in this class and just had that little bit more composure and precision in the class on the move  to take it and she had to too  as it was a super class. . Wilted just a little in the run off for best puppy but lots to come from this lady surely.
2. McEntee’s Gerian Sunfrosting  see half sister to the winner,. she is just delightful, so so sweet, so feminine, pretty head and how lovely to see this expression on a blue. Nice little body shape to her, movement ok too and will improve further  to then trouble some I’m sure. Two lovely bitches and I can’t fail to mention those behind them each of which had merit and showed promise. Lovely to see.

Puppy Bitch
1 Walder’s  Beldones La Vita Bella for Hanvale. Retains enough femininity but there’s something honest abut her for size shape and substance that surely marks her a useful type of bitch to have in a kennel. Performed well throughout, well presented and handled and pressed on throughout the day keeping the pressure on her peers in both sexes to eventually take Best Puppy here. Head handles nicely, good parallel planes nice moulding on foreface, pleasant true expression. Well made body and stepped out with confidence. In lovely bloom and just that  little mix of puppy charm with sufficient maturity to make you want to look again in the challenges.
2. Lockyer’s Takhisis  Hope and Dreams with Gataj. I see a half sister to the winner here.  Nice standard of girl all round, head planes ok, ok for expression, nicely grown on in good body with enough tone to her for age and moved out confidently.

Junior Bitch
1 Beloreen Starlight, I remember now this prefix from old, nice to see it return. The only girl who stood alone here today, again a blue for the line up, elegant of frame, good for neck,  clean and refined in head,  pleasant in expression. good length of back. Moved ok.

Novice bitch
1 Samhaven Hopeful Ladnar
2, Humphrey’s  Shasam Shades of Guilt. Moved up here from 3rd in minor puppy I see the sister of the best puppy dog, two nice youngsters. Pleasing head type, nice expression, nice make and shape with good shoulder,well boned, correct coat, she has  well let down hocks and she moved ok. Well presented.

Graduate Bitch
1 Wares Bella Bimba Della Buca Della Fate at Wassail. Quite a handle isn't it but she’s got that touch of glamour about her to go with it, very feminine in head, just enough on the foreface , ok for stop, clean through the cheeks, dark sweet almond eyes, ears well used, enough shape to secure a place in the line up, well furnished lady but didn't detract, moved out well and performed admirably..
2. Hodge’s Jopium Secret Fantasy  one of two quite similar half sisters from this kennel today, both of which I like and not surprised as I quite liked their sire also. True honest collie quality here, not my job to hold a crystal ball but also surely useful additions to a kennel. , Little stronger in head than the winner who also made more of her ears but I like the  balance, the moulding here, pleasing dark eyes, good for bone, spring  of rib and moved nicely all directions.

Post Graduate Bitch
1 Jackson’s  Sassari  Sea Shimmer. Nice for size, very good for reach of neck, I like her angulation and proportions all round, enough coat to flatter those elegant bodylines.  She stood and showed that refined balanced head.  She moved well in all directions, no great effort required for her to do so, just has a tendency to lift her tail a little when at pace but an all round quality bitch. Totally free from exaggeration.
2.Swain’ s Lexcolls Jewel In  My Crown,  not quite the ear placement or elegance of the blue but an attractive bitch  in nice condition  whose clean balance head pattern with well placed stop and sweet expression held a lot of appeal for me. Good depth of rib, strong let down hock and moved out well here.. 
Mid Limit
I do like these "middle" classes you retain in your classifications, I have missed them elsewhere. The opportunity to work your way or mature a dog through the classes has a value, again the grass I will say to you, in my opinion - not always greener elsewhere
1.McIntyre’s  Meryctin Brite Lika Diamond .Same sire as second in post grad and again the head piece was going to please me, correctly placed stop balances good planes of correct length with  nicely filled foreface, flat skull, dark expressive eyes and good ears, neat and well placed.. She has the  body shape too, nicely put together  throughout with ample neck  , nice length to height ratios, in fair coat . When she puts it all together she can’t be ignored. Moved well.
2. Congdon’s  Haute Couture des Beldones .  Sired by the dog ticket winner, little wonder she is a quality bitch, in good coat and condition here today, moulded nicely in head, dark expressive eyes, ok for length of back, nicely let down hocks. Moved ok.
Limit Bitch .Very nice class. .
1 Randall’s  Ladnar Inkheart, I gave her litter brother a class at c.c.o.w  earlier this year and similar comments apply really. Relative to some I can imagine her to be considered naked in some quarters. But the black coat she has is true black, those whites sparkle and if the petticoats aren't there to add the wow factor in that department well that figure hugging jacket dresses adequately what is a very nicely constructed animal. Beautiful  reach neck, with that little arch to it , its rises from well laid shoulders and correct upper arm, length through the ribcage, well enough bodied up and to borrow a worthy  line from the American standard that I love and which could be applied to any standard, anywhere – “unencumbered by any useless timbre”. She has a good top line and bend of stifle down to correct hocks. Stands square, placing her feet just where they ought to be without any stacking required. Extends well over the ground, follows through well behind. The head is refined, well proportioned, the ears well placed and used effectively. For some possibly not the sweetness of rivals but alert, interested, kind  - enough  of the hallmarks of the breed there surely,. not surprised she has  a ticket under her belt.
2 . Tames Rahlissa Love Song. Another well on the road to the upper house, that head has quality to it, the eye - an unexaggerated medium, the ears placed on top nicely tipped and   she knows it’s a show and a performance is required. Stands well on nicely boned legs and feet and moves out soundly, her day will come. She’s good and had to be as the 3rd here is another with ticket potential.
Open Bitch
I’m perhaps as guilty as anyone for category assigning  judges, head v movement being the big one, but the truth of it is most do I think at least try to find the balance of both, within those parameters then the reality is you will expect to find aspects which are not to ignore, not to forgive but to accept as imperfections relative to the bigger picture. This was an interesting class with a lot of quality on show, it included a very worthy Champion and at least six other  very  lovely  ticket winners and as always there were virtues on one that I loved, something else about another that pleased me and so on.  Some just a little “flat” today – still lovely of course, some  when in stance  beautifully showcasing their attributes to advantage and yet whilst sound , on the move today maybe not using the top gear they do possess and I needed to see to make the difference. A case in other words could reasonably made  for various combinations of placings  and that  is quite acceptable to me. That’s what keeps it interesting.

1. Cronk’s Chelborn Kiss 'n Desire. .  I handled her early in the class,  I  instantly referenced her in my mind for that  top end shortlist, but having scanned the class I knew there was plenty of stiff opposition to come. On first look I wondered if she would prove a little stronger than I’d prefer, slightly more to her in head profile than some to be fair..BUT..Handle her and that clean moulded foreface blends nicely into smooth cheeks and flat skull, her stop is correctly placed and neat well placed ears sit well and are used appropriately. Her eye is  dark and as per the standard a true medium and the expression alert and pleasing and  true to the breed. She has enough neck, the angulation fore and aft is not to be found wanting, I like her firm top line with slight rise over correct croup. Enough heart and lung room without excess weight round her,  good bone not too much although I wouldn't wish for more. She stands four square ,plants her short hocks exactly where they ought to be and in good bloom but free from exaggeration and of course turned out ever so well she made a good all round first and final  impression.  She extended well on the move, held that top line and showed me plenty of  drive from the rear. As I worked through the class I found much to admire elsewhere but I found that the mix of head properties with basic breed appropriate soundness brought me back to this one again and again. She ticks so many boxes, is coming right into her prime just now and looked every inch a winner. Tough decision made - Bitch CC, which she followed with Best of Breed and Res Best in Show. Well done and good luck for that third CC.
2.Humphrey’s Brilyn Kiss at Midnight to Jamesfair. I believe half sister to the winner,  little different , more refined and a little longer on foreface, but again the correctness to the written template  evident, the medium eye nicely set, gets her ears just about high enough, (she has been doing this for a while!) Expression  - surpassed by some rivals but still -  gentle and suggestive of nothing else but collie. Enough neck, nice length of back, bend of stifle and good hocks. To this point in the proceedings a placing contender, but then she moved and for me she just flowed, footwork tidier than some of her rivals from my perspective  and holding an elegant frame right through to the tail end. I’m open to stand corrected  but there was something about her that recalled for me some Karava heritage. In any event the opportunity to acknowledge that free effortless gait and at the same time give a nod in the direction of longevity couldn't pass me by. Given the quality in depth of this class it was I felt appropriate and reflective of that quality to recall her for the Res CC here. I believe she is on two tickets as are some other worthy seniors, I hope they are given the chances they deserve.  It’s not over till it’s over -Good luck. Res CC Best Veteran.
Veteran Bitch
I’ve heard it said in the past that the awarding of the CC to the veteran does not reflect well upon the status of the breed. I suppose I can understand the genesis of the opinion in as much as , yes, one needs to see the youngsters, the future of the breed breaking through but for me the winner of the veteran class or a veteran regardless of the class entered deserves the same crack of the whip as any other. Love this class. Retire your stock when you choose and never when someone else suggests you should. Let the veterans be seen...
1.McDevitts Caronlea Dixie Chick.  And so now as with her brother, I have judged her three times in her career. The first  time as a puppy when in different ownership when I gave her a class, the second in her prime when she earned the green star, and now as a veteran in her tenth year. She’s had better outfits for her day’s trips, but that kick she can produce from those short hocks is still in there and it won her another class from me. Her owner knows by now what I like and what I’d change about her but the chance  that's given on the odd occasion to stand in a ring and go over   an exhibit at various  different stages of its lifetime is one of  the enjoyable plusses of this job for sure.
2.Philpin’s  Tudorlyn Little Princess, a “ Detox”  daughter so she goes back to some favourites of mine. Has a couple of years advantage over the winner and very nearly beat her, nice type of bitch , balanced throughout, moving freely, shown in excellent coat and condition and handled to advantage.
Thank you for the invitation, entry, hospitality and sportsmanship.

Paul Battigan