Date - 20 February 2018
Author - Diane Stewart-Ritchie
Sunday 29th March 1981. This date hails the inaugural meeting of the Midlands Irish Setter Society. The Society was formed as a new regional Irish Setter Club based in the Midlands. Miss Sybil Lennox was the first President of the Society. The first Chairman was Eve Gardner, David Bell was the first Secretary and first Treasurer was David Jack. The first Committee was formed and included, Jackie Alexander, Diane McDonald, Lynn Muir, Maureen Savage, George Stevenson, Arthur Kelly, Viv King, Jeremy Bott, John Powis, Maurice Webb and Colin Troth. Hopefully I haven't missed anybody - my information was supplied by the current Secretary. The Society initially held companion shows and matches until it was officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1982, whereupon they were able to hold Open Shows. Championship show status came in 1986, with the first Championship show being judged by Margaret Cordwell and Brenda Levick. Margaret judged dogs, whilst Brenda judged the bitches. The principal winners were as follows: DCC Aristocrat From Cornhill, RDCC Rhuwind Somethin Special of Duskhunter, whilst the bitches were BCC and BOB Sh Ch Carramore Irish Moonshine, RBCCIr Ch Loughantarve Kerry Lynn. The Connection, or Sky Blue Connection as it was originally known has always been the venue of choice, with all of the Midlands Championship shows being held there.
At this first Championship Show the Society were immediately challenged as the then Chairman did not turn up on the day. Ok, not that much of a problem you might say, but he did have the rosettes and prize cards with him! After this show the Committee put George Stevenson in place and he remained the Chairman for fourteen long and industrious years. Some of you will remember the fabulous three generation pedigrees that were included in the catalogue. The Midlands were the first Irish Setter Society to produce this. The brainchild of George Stevenson, it was a very useful tool for us all in the days before pedigree websites and internet.
The judges of choice for this years show were Mrs Sandra Chorley-Newton (Kerryfair) tasked to judge the males and Mrs Chris Butler (Rubymoon), allocated to judge the females. A good entry awaited both ladies, totalling 220 and making 280 entries. Lesley Armstrong-Rogers (Atron/Scotsway) was scheduled to act as referee should the occasion arise. The show started promptly on a dry February day, what a bonus the weather was for exhibitors and Committee alike. Both rings were of good size allowing the opposite side of the hall to be used for benching. Now onto the judges and a little bit of history for you about each.
Mrs 'Kerryfair' Chorley-Newton is a familiar, popular and hugely successful exhibitor and I know her passion and dedication to the breed she holds dear, remains as firm now as when she first started showing in 1977. Sandra's foundation bitch was purchased from the successful breeder whom many of you know but also whom many have only heard of, the late Janice Roberts. Janice's famous Cornevon kennel was the foundation quite a number of todays winners and in most cases they are line bred through Sandra's homebred boy Sh Ch Kerryfair Night Fever. Sandra's foundation bitch Cornevon Spring Melody was purchased from Janice in 1977. When mated to Sh Ch Sowerhill Sahib, it formed the beginnings of what was to become a huge destiny for Irish Setters as a breed. From a litter of 4, Kerryfair Night Fever was to become the ultimate star. Mack, as he was affectionately known, gave that rare influence on a breed that most breeders can only dream of. Having been extensively used at stud, he was pre-potent and sired 23 Champions over 9 years, the most famous being Sh Ch Danaway Debonair - Supreme Champion, Crufts 1991. I could write for hours about Night Fever and his influences and stock - a really interesting topic, perhaps for another article on a cold wet winter day when the season is quiet.
Sh.Ch. Kerryfair Night Fever
At home with a young Kerry Chorley.
Mack... just being Mack ! A dog in a million.
Mack's first big win came aged only two years old, when he won the CC at Crufts under Olwyn Hunt. He completed his tally at 26 CC's and 11 RCC's. His contribution to the breed is almost unrivalled, especially through his stud work , where he was Top Stud Dog All Breeds for five years but what is interesting is his lineage, which shows also in other influential sires like Sh Ch Caspians Intrepid and Sh Ch Caskeys Concept at Aoibheanne, who descend directly from him. A lasting legacy of which I know Sandra is hugely proud.
Other prominent winners for Sandra's lovely Kerryfairs have been Sh Ch K Lover Boy,
Sh Ch Kerryfair Lover Boy..... here handled by Piet Roks
Sh Ch K Snow Fox and of course, bred in partnership with dear friend Christine McLarnon Snow Fox's mum Sh Ch Outfoxed by Kerryfair. Outfoxed's mother was a Wendover girl, Ir Sh Ch Wendover Hero, whose mother was Country Belle of Wendover. Sandra had gone to see Country Belle as a puppy at Peter James' and ended up coming home with a four year old girl. How lovely that she too made up and became Sh Ch Wendover Rose of the Shires, pet name Amy.
Sh Ch Wendover Rose of the Shires
Sandra recalls the story of one of her phone calls to the James household to tell them how Amy had done at one of her first shows. Peter was not at home and Sandra told Julie that she had won the Reserve at the show. When he called back Peter said, 'that was pretty good then, a fourth'........ 'No', Sandra said, 'it was the Reserve CC!' Rose of the Shires was the last Wendover to become a Show Champion in the UK. Amassing over 50 CC's and almost equal the number of Reserve CC's, the Kerryfair affix, was Sandra's second choice actually with Melodyspring being her first, chosen after her foundation bitch. The Kennel Club refused the first choice and Sandra's second choice, named after her only child, was selected. Sandra's second litter and what she says was her first serious litter coming from a show bitch, contained the great Kerryfair Night Fever who ultimately made history and made the name Kerryfair synonymous with quality Irish Setters. For Sandra's judging career, she judged her first CC appointment at Merseyside Gundog in 2004 and has judged the breed eleven times since, officiating at all of the Irish Setter Clubs here in the UK with the exception of the Welsh Club and the Belfast Club. In fact Sandra has judged the MISS twice, stepping in to take over Geoff Coupes appointment at the last minute in 2008. Sandra's judging highlight came in 2015 when she judged Irish Setter bitches at Crufts. This appointment is one of which she is particularly proud and as she says, she 'loved every single minute of it' - and quite right too, what an honour. The Kerryfairs are now redeveloping and the reins are slowly being handed across to daughter Kerry Chorley and grand-daughter Emma Flinders. Good luck with the next Kerryfair chapters ladies.
The bitch judge, Chris Butler was judging our breed for the second time. On her previous appointment at Leeds in 2016 Chris Found her CC winners in Sh Ch Thendara Pot Noodle and Sh Ch Bardonhill Please Don't Tease Quensha. This entry saw Chris work through her 109 entered bitches. For many of us, Chris is a lady whom we don't see exhibiting so much in our Irish Setter ring nowadays, but her interest is firm and as she says, 'Irish will always be her first love.' Chris purchased her first Irish Setter in 1983. He was Dormora Red Rag, bred by Mr & Mrs Merry and of all Wendover breeding. He was a family pet, but as fate would have it, her mothers next door neighbour saw him and as she showed dogs herself, she recognised a quality within him and of course, encouraged Chris to take him along to the local exemption show. A rosette or two later meant the bug had bitten! Eve Gardner was the judge at one of these particular exemption shows where Red Rag won, so of course when Chris saw her name judging at Leicester City Champ show, off she went. How delightful to then come home with a third place card in Limit. Other dogs followed in the dog showing quest, including Amberwave Rain Storm who didn't like showing, Amberwave Pearl at Rubymoon who was subsequently mated to Tyrone giving Chris a litter of thirteen, where she kept two girls and a boy. The dog, Rubymoon Big Diamond did well as a youngster winning many Best of Breeds at open shows and shortlisted to the final six in the Puppy Group at South Wales. Two other Irish winners for Chris were R Royal Flush who gained a Reserve CC at Setter & Pointer and Covarney Enzo at Rubymoon who gained his Junior Warrant. Unfortunately Chris stopped showing him after his resultant poor hip score. She tells me she was heartbroken and stopped showing for about two years. She met up with Kate and Gerald Condron at an Open Show and they very kindly invited her to view a new litter they had, finally resulting in them gifting her Covarney Wait N See Rubymoon. Another big winning youngster, he was also super at Obedience but fell out of love with dog showing.
Covarney Enzo of Rubymoon (right)
A final try for Chris saw her buy another dog in and yet again some bad luck after he bloated. It just didn't seem to be working out for Chris. To keep her dog showing interest alive Chris bought a Gordon Setter who won a Reserve CC. Another followed who is currently being campaigned and has collected a CC and 4 RCC's so far.
Yennadon Lochan at Rubymoon JW ShCM
Thank goodness for a light at the end of that long adventurous but dark tunnel. Chris enjoys the temperaments of the Irish and still has a nine year old at home. She says her home will never be without an Irish Setter......they do get right under ones skin!
Back to the Show where final results culminated in Sandra having found her male winners from the Open Dog and Limit Dog classes respectively. Both half brothers, with Sh Ch & Int Ch Coppers Magiska Under as their sire, it was a 25th CC for Arthur Sh Ch Coppers War of Roses (Imp Swe) and a third Reserve CC for Squaddie, Gwendariff Unknown Soldier JW to add to the first CC he won in 2017. Her Best Puppy Dog was won by new kid on the block, Gwendariff Weekend Warrior, owned by Alec Stewart.
Chris chose her Open bitches to be the recipients of the top honours, awarding Jane and Roger Mugfords full Champion, Lark alias Lynwood Happy As A Lark, the CC and Marita Botts girl Tabitha, Bardonhill Guilty Pleasure the Reserve.- Tabitha already has two CC's. Best Puppy Bitch and ultimately Best Puppy in Show was Jane & Rogers Lynwood Abracadabra, Magic to her friends!
Both ladies agreed that Arthur should be Best in Show, with Reserve Best in Show to Lark. As above Lynwood Abracadabra was Best Puppy in Show and a very delighted Jill Holley picked up another award for the girls, winning best Veteran in Show with Fizzy, Sh Ch Gwendariff Soda Pop To Wynjill.
During the day cake, crisps and a little bit of fizz were the order of the day, with Lynn Muirs baking going down a storm once again. This time it was all part of a celebration for Joan Cox. Joan was celebrating her 75th Birthday with us all. She, along with friend Jan Nevitt have had Irish Setters all their lives from various breeders over the years. They are great Irish Setter stalwarts and regularly attend the Midlands show as well as some of the Open shows the Society may host. It was really good to see our Irish Setter exhibitors all tucking into the goodies whilst enjoying and exchanging stories. These type of get togethers are so welcome in this new world of showing we are now experiencing. To win is great, to have fun along the way is the key and if we can socialise together and be kind along the way, is I believe, 'the icing on the cake'.