The 2009 Eukanuba World Challenge

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To fulfill what it calls an aspiration to promote magnificent dogs and bring together breeders and their top-winning dogs from around the world, for the third year in a row Eukanuba sponsored the World Challenge in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.

Top dogs from 37 FCI member countries, plus one dog each from the United Kingdom, Canada and the US, participated at the first World Challenge in 2007. In 2008 12 additional FCI member countries were added. Following the 2008 event Eukanuba executives decided to consult with their partners in this venture, the AKC and FCI, to make this unique competition even more exciting. They decided to also invite the Best in Show winners from four prestigious dog shows — the FCI European Winner show in Ireland, the FCI American Section Show in Ecuador, the FCI World Show in Slovakia and the FCI Asian Section Show in Taiwan. (As Bo Bengtson mentioned in his report, the World Show BIS winner was not in Long Beach.) In addition, a semi-final competition was held at the World Show in Slovakia in October 2009 in which dogs from 20 European countries competed for three additional spots in the Challenge, giving more countries an opportunity to be part of the competition.

Along with an invitation to compete, each participant and a human companion also enjoy all-expense paid trips to Long Beach. When the invited breeder or dog is a member of the Eukanuba Breeders’ Club, the company pays expenses for an additional person to travel to the World Challenge. The winner of the Eukanuba World Challenge wins a $10,000 cash award.

Judges are directed to use the FCI breed standards to judge dogs from FCI countries, and the US, UK and Canadian standards to judge dogs from those countries. This year participating dogs were randomly divided into four preliminary groups, to be judged by respected names from around the world: Sergio Lopes Meira DeCastro, the president of the Brazilian Kennel Club; Greg Eva, president of the Kennel Union of South Africa; Carla Molinari, president of the Kennel Club in Portugal; and Roberto Velez-Pico, Executive Secretary of the Kennel Club in Puerto Rico.

The actual preliminary judging took place during the day on Saturday while the rest of the regular class judging was going on. Then, following the ceremony on Saturday evening in the main arena where each participant entered the ring with its handler and another person bearing the flag from its home country, one at a time each of the four groups entered the ring and the judges announced their finalists. On Sunday evening, iconic American judge Frank Sabella judged the 12 finalists, selecting Bracco Italiano Ch. Axel Del Monte Alago as the World Challenge winner, Saluki Ch. Shiraz California Dreamin’ as Runner-up, and Wire Fox Terrier Ch. Sanherpinc Arepa as First Runner-up.

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