Crufts 2007

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For three years running the Crufts Best in Show winner has been exhibited by a professional handler from the U.S.: Peter Green in 2005, Larry Cornelius. I'm not going to speculate on what this signifies, but it's a fact that perhaps it wouldn't do any harm for serious British exhibitors to consider.

What always strikes me about the American pros, and Britons like Geoff Corish, is not so much their formidable rapport they are able to build up with their charges. They make it look so smooth and easy, when we all know it's anything but. Perhaps that's the definition of a true professional in any field.

By now I am sure you have heard that the Tibetan Terrier U.K. & Am. Ch. Araki Fabulous Willy made his return to Britain -- after a few months in the U.S. -- a spectacular one. Among those with reason to be joyful were Larry and his partner Marcelo Veras, breeder Ken Sinclair, who over the past 25 years has made turning out top Tibetan Terriers into an art form, and Ken's partner Neil Smith, who has been a big part of the Araki story in recent times. Neil remains co-owner of 'Willy' with John Shaw, who is based in Hong Kong and America and has supported many successful show dogs on both sides of the Atlantic, including the dual Westminster Group-winning Pekingese, Ch. Yakee Leaving Me Breathless at Franshaw. And let's not forget Mark Cocozza, who is no longer one of Willy's co-owners but handled him to most of his early successes in the U.K.

Willy is the breed's top winner in the U.K., its only Crufts Group winner (twice) and its first Crufts BIS winner. At 6 years of age he has won a total of 45 CCs, three previous BIS and many Groups in the U.K. Twice he was top winner of the year in the Utility Group, and he has been BOB at Crufts four times. Although used only within Ken and Neil's kennel, Willy has sired several champions and was last year's top stud dog in the breed as well as top winner, even though he left for a vacation in the U.S. halfway through the year. There, handled by Larry, he was BIS first time out and won several Groups. Now he is retired from regular competition in the U.K. and will stay on at Araki for a while, although he may return to the U.S. later.

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