|Ch Lourdace Fulcrum - winner of the Gundog Group, Crufts 2016|
My inbox is full of emails this morning from show peeps who wouldn't normally say my name without spitting venom.
The Gordon Setter that won the Gundog group at Crufts last night was bred and is co-owned by the judge's sister.
But really... so what?
Amusingly, there was an item on the TV coverage last night that present the show world as a lovely little community where everyone looks out for each other.
The reality is that it's a nest of vipers and people can't wait to stick the boot in.
But I fail to see the great scandal here. The showing bug often runs in families and it's a small world. Inevitably, loads of people are related to each other or in relationships with each other.
Indeed, you've got to ask what judge Di Arrowsmith was supposed to do - ignore the dog because of the relationship? That would surely be unfair.
James, as Ch Lourdace Fulcrum is known, won Best of Breed under a different, independent judge. He is clearly a lovely-looking dog and my personal tip for Best in Show because he ticks a lot of boxes - beautiful, a vulnerable breed and his handler co-owner came over well on TV last night.
This might just be my wishing thinking, though - or perhaps the fear that I will self-combust if that disgraceful ball of fluff that won the Toy Group waddles off with the top prize.
Of more concern to me is that Ch Lourdace Fulcrum has a hip score of 27. He is the son of a sire with a hip score of 17 and his dam's score was 27; hardly surprising his hips aren't great.
A score of 27 is almost triple the breed average (the 5y rolling median is currently 10). James has also already sired three litters, two of them to bitches with hip scores also above the breed median (18 and 11).
The BVA advice is to not breed dogs with hip scores above the breed median.
I hope James is used judiciously at stud from here on in. I've met a lot of older Gordons who look terrible on the move - clearly stiff and sore. It is, I'm afraid, one of the consequences of a breed that is no longer kept fit and functional by the work it was originally developed to do. (Very few Gordons in the UK are working gundogs).
I have suggested, several times, that dogs should come to the ring with some existing points in the bag - e.g. for good hip scores/health tests/working qualifications/lower than breed-average inbreeding etc. I can't see that it would be anything other than a win-win situation - for the dogs and for Kennel Club PR.
But no. Crufts and other dog shows remain primarily about outside appearance and not inner health.