Dutch in  2014

Entry-wise, the year 2014 was not a good year for the Dutch Cavy Club as only at the Southern Area Show in September did the number of exhibits manage to reach the thirties. This is a far cry from ten years ago when, at the 2004 AGM, our late President, Mrs Margaret Elward  suggested the possibility of two judges when there are large entries (81 at the Southern Area this year) as there could be a build up of work at the end of the show.  Why entries have been so disappointing this year is rather hard to fathom as we have an energetic secretary in Amy Heale and quite a few new members have joined in recent months. Perhaps it is partly the knock on effect of the recession, partly that some members have diversified into other breeds and perhaps simply the lack of exhibits good enough to show. I know I've had nothing to trouble the judge this year.

As usual, the showing year started at the big Bradford/Harrogate Championship Show in January. Although 700 cavies were entered, this never seems to be a big draw for the Dutch exhibitor. Despite being very well covered by the judges (their detailed critiques much appreciated), I found it hard to discover any adult entries with only single entries in the other age groups. Roy Wearmouth's pig took the 5/8 months class with Amy Heale's good Chocolate boar doing very well in the young classes; placed in both the Marked and Marked/Ticked Challenges.

February saw our Midland Area Show with the NCC boundary guidelines slightly stretched to allow the venue to be Sandbach. Peter Wardman did the honours and although it was hoped to entice a few more exhibitors from 'Up North', only Malcolm Atkinson made the trip down. The entry of 18 was disappointing but I suppose February is hardly the best time of year to venture out and, in fact, it was an indication of what was to come 

Details of the show are somewhat sparse as Pete managed to lose his judging book but I can tell you that Amy Heale took all three places in the Grand Challenge with her Chocolate boars and Red sow (all adults). Midland Area Secretary, Kevin Hopkins did quite well with his Reds taking Best Youngster and it was good to see Andrea Gallagher supporting the show and taking Best Newcomer with her 5/8 months Red boar.

April saw the Yorkshire Championship Show at Keighley where the DCC Northern Area Show was being entertained thanks to the kindness of Keith Brockhill and his team (including our Northern Rep. Kim Holmes). Yours truly had been assigned to do the honours here and an entry of 21 Dutch awaited me. Few from the South were in attendance as the date, unfortunately, clashed with other shows in Kent and Cornwall where DCC members had responsibilities.

Chris Pearson's adult was the best amongst the Reds where the most competition was in the young classes. Here I made the comment:  All in need of better table manners.  And it seems that this 'liveliness' is nothing new as I had looked back in my records to check when I did my first DCC engagement. It was the1968 Annual at Guildford Town Show where 20 young Reds had been entered. After the two classes, I made the comment: In these young Red classes, reluctance to handling complicated the assessment of markings. The A.O.Cs proved far more adaptable to showing.  So nothing has changed!

In Black Dutch, Malcolm Atkinson's two exhibits were easily best of the five on display that day. The Adult Chocolate class proved the one to give me the most to worry about as I recognised the prolific winner, 'Burgenhagen II' but my attention was drawn to what turned out to be his stable companion. My thoughts were that I could be making a fool of myself by deserting the 'form selection' but I had to please myself first and the exhibitor second. The cheeks were less heavy and the stops longer plus colour and condition (on the day) seemed better with this apparent second string. Hence it had to win.

In the Agoutis, Kim Holmes' adult Golden sow was a nicely balanced exhibit if heavy on cheeks and a tad untidy (run under) on stops. She did well in the duplicates.

My Best though was to come in the 5/8 months classes, where I discovered a very promising Chocolate boar with little to fault other than heaviness on one cheek. It was owned by Amy Heale who later told me that this was the one that had done so well at Harrogate.

Best Newcomer went to Sandra Fardoe with Chocolate sow that had plenty amiss markings-wise but it was shown in good order and I hope she perseveres it is could easily breed that elusive winner.

The South West Area Show took place at Wyvern C.C. on 28th June with Graham Godfrey placing the awards.His comments: 'A moderate entry (21 Dutch) today, but mainly good examples of the breed. BIS today was a lovely Red sow, very well shown, congratulations to Alan Wilson on I believe his first BIS.'

This particular sow, 'Ice Age' was to amass a string of wins over the following months and it is a credit to Alan that he has kept the sow in good order to do herself justice on every occasion.

In the Grand Challenge, Amy's two Chocolates followed Alan's sow with Sarah Stribley taking the Reserve/Fourth spot with an adult Golden Agouti. Other Agoutis worthy of mention were Gary Clark's Silver and Madelaine Coomber's Chocolate. Also, Wilmot Goldsworthy did well with her 5/8 months Black without quite making the final duplicates.

Come September and it was time for the Real London Show at Bracknell where the Southern Area Show was being entertained with Julie Davies doing the honours. An entry of 30 Dutch awaited her and there was quite a good mix of colours on view. Emily Bennett took the Adult Red Boar class but it was Alan Wilson's Red sow that took the Red Adult Challenge and went on to gain a second Best Dutch award. The judge's comments: 'Good h/e/e, even stops, good saddle, well balanced, very good condition'. Whilst discussing the Reds, it was good to see an overseas exhibitor from Portugal amongst the awards. Well done to Fld Cavies and thanks for making the effort to attend.

A new name was to appear in the Cream Dutch class and Kaye Thomas is, indeed, a very welcome addition to the Cream Dutch ranks. Maureen Woodward once again kept the Cinnamon Agouti Dutch flag flying. Madelaine Coomber took the Silver Agouti Adult class whilst Sharon Collis appeared to be the only exhibitor showing Black Dutch, winning the 5/8 months challenges.

In the Grand Challenge, the placings were, 1st Alan Wilson Red adult sow, 2nd & 3rd Amy Heale adult & u/5 months Chocolates, 4th Gary Clark Red u/5 months boar.

Before moving on to the next show, I would add that I noticed that one exhibit was No Awarded by Julie with the comments: 'no award as was bit bald and down in condition.' The two could be linked and I would certainly praise Julie for taking this action rather than make any other comment. It reminded me of the advice given to me by Chas Bacon, a noted rabbit judge namely; 'Never be afraid to make a decision.' That's advice not always easy to follow.

The Margaret Elward Memorial Show was held in Kent in 5th October with Maureen Woodward behind the table this time. The entry of 23 Dutch was the second best of the year with Alan's Red sow and Amy's Chocolate boar once again in competition for top honours. This time the Chocolate boar prevailed. I've now had the chance to handle both pigs and I suspect it was a close run thing. Amy's Chocolates are worthy examples of the colour as they come from a good line that goes back through Andrew Pearson to the Vidlers of Kent. That's the lineage as far as I'm aware and they could possibly be traced back to Margaret Elward's line of Chocolate Dutch as it was she that nurtured the colour through WW2 and surprised everyone by exhibiting the colour at a post war Bradford Championship Show.

However, it was not just this Chocolate that impressed Maureen as overall she stated that:'The Reds too were of very good colour.' In fact it was the Reds of both Alan Wilson and Gary Clark that did well in the duplicates. In addition to 2nd & 3rd in the Grand Challenge, Alan also took the 5/8 months duplicates with a Red sow: good saddle, shade dips under, nice cheeks and stops, good shape and muzzle, fit.Gary prevailed in the Young classes with a promising Red boar: lovely cheeks, good stops, nice saddle, shade untidy under.

Kay Thomas again took the Newcomers Class with a useful team of Cream Dutch.

The second Northern Area Show for 2014 took place at Worth Valley Fanciers on 1st November where an entry of 16 Dutch was entered for Chris Pearson to judge. Once again, Alan Wilson's Red sow 'Ice Age' prevailed and took Best Dutch with Harold Laycock taking 2nd & 3rd in the Grand Challenge with his Reds followed by Malcolm Atkinson with his Black Dutch adult sow. One pleasing aspect of this show was the presence of a juvenile as Katie Bingham (granddaughter of L & P Cavies) was showing a Red sow that won the 5/8 months Red Sow class beating a certain A. Wilson. She was also placed in the duplicates being 4th in the Sow AC AA class behind three experienced fanciers. Well done Katie. I hope we will see you at future shows.

The Annual Stock Show that should have been the highlight of the show year was rather a disappointment as only 16 Dutch were entered and three of them were absent. With Amy placing the awards, one would have hoped for at least double that number but it was not to be. Again it was Alan Wilson that took top honours with 'Ice Age' and after the judging, I had the chance to handle this pig. She certainly is a nicely balanced sow with a pleasing eye and other good features.

After the Reds, Cream Dutch were the colour most numerous with four on show and with Kaye Thomas taking best with her adult sow. This pig was good enough to also do very well in the NCC classes (Best Dutch I think) and although a 'nice example of the colour' it could have benefitted from a little more substance. Additionally, it was placed in the DCC Grand Challenges behind two Reds (Wilson & Clark) and Madelaine Coomber's adult Golden Agouti. This Golden Agouti certainly took Amy's eye being well shown and nicely marked bar a tendency to have a lowly cut saddle. It was Best Boar and runner up Best Dutch to Alan's sow.

Something that has surprised at this year's shows is the apparent lack of Black Dutch with five about the most on show at any one time. Also, if Amy isn't showing, Chocolate Dutch can be absent and this is a colour that can do really well amongst the AOCs and can challenge the best Reds too at times. On the plus side it is encouraging to have Kaye Thomas campaigning with her Creams and giving Alan Wilson some competition. The Agoutis in all colours could do with more supporters but Cinnamons could see an increase as Pam Gardner from Scotland has acquired a few from Maureen Woodward, that stalwart of the colour.

Hopefully, entries will be better in 2015 and, you never know, we may even see Kevin Lidbetter coming out of retirement to show and surprise us all! It used to be the case of not who will take Best Dutch but which colour will Kevin produce to take the top award?