Going beyond our limits

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale is a truly global organisation and, as well as working towards a collective goal, it operates as a body where people can meet with the shared aim of exchanging ideas and experiences but without paying the slightest attention to their cultural, geographical, political or religious differences. We come together under the banner of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale to protect all dogs equally, no matter where they come from or where on Earth they live.

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Rafael de Santiago
President of the FCI
Eukanuba's Johanna Rhomberg spoke to Jason Lynn, owner & handler of Standard Poodle CH Afterglow Maverick Sabre, about their EWC win
The winning team - Ricky with his handler, owner & breeder Jason Lynn - doing the final lap in the EWC final

JR: With the World Challenge now finished, I must congratulate you on Ricky's triumphant win! What were your expectations as you began your trip to Orlando?

JL: Thank you, it was a remarkable week! I can honestly say the only thing we expected as the plane touched down in Florida was that we would have a great time. That was a given. To be able to spend a week in Orlando through the generosity of Eukanuba was something we intended to make the most of! We knew that by going to the World Challenge we were giving up LKA back home, and if this made a difference in the Top Dog points tally then we owed it to ourselves to have as much fun as possible!

JR: So you never regretted making the decision to compete in Orlando?

JL: Absolutely not!! We knew that there was a clash with the 2 shows, and from the moment Ricky won the Champion Stakes Final we really tried to put ''points'' out of our minds. The EWC is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we were proud for Ricky to represent the UK there. As it turns out, he finished as Top Dog anyway!

JR: I believe this is your second time attending the EWC. How would you compare the two experiences?

JL: That's right, so I suppose it was TWICE-in-a-lifetime experience for us! Mike handled Ricky's grandfather Donny at the 2008 EWC in Long Beach, CA, where he was a finalist. The California venue was wonderful, too, but of course getting there from the UK takes a bit longer. The convention centre in Orlando is just incredible, and there is so much to do within walking distance. The main similarity between both trips was Eukanuba's hospitality and care of all the participants. They look after everyone so well, and plan every detail so that you can relax and enjoy your stay. For us in the dog show world, it’s like the ultimate holiday. You meet so many interesting people from around the world who all share the same passion for dogs.

JR: When did you find out who your Section judge would be, and what was your reaction?

JL: Eukanuba put on a big dinner party for all of the owners and handlers at a wonderful Cuban restaurant on Thursday evening, and during the course of the meal there was live drawing to determine which of the four judges would be assigned to each Section. Our judge ended up being Mr Jipping from the Netherlands. We had never shown under him before, so we had no reaction either way. Like I said, we were there to enjoy ourselves!

JR: Describe the morning of Section round judging.

JL: I guess we finally went into ''competition mode'' on the morning of the pre-judging. That's when the pressure was turned up a notch. There were a lot of people around the ring watching, and as we were in Section 3 I got to see a bit before it was our turn. The quality of the dogs was really impressive and it became obvious how tough the competition was going to be. There were so many dogs in each section which had big reputations in their countries such as Top Dogs, World Show Winners, Crufts winners and so on. It was really exciting to watch unfold. We knew that we wouldn't learn which three dogs had made it from each section until after Saturday night's opening ceremony, so I only hoped that Ricky would perform like we knew he could. He didn't let me down, and handled himself brilliantly in the big ring. Then it was just a case of waiting!

JR: Participants always find the evening flag ceremony a special part of the event. How was that for you?

JL: The flag presentation is quite unique in the world of dog showing! I've seen it as a flag-bearer myself back in Long Beach, as a spectator from the stands last year, and now as an exhibitor with Mike carrying the Union Jack for me this time! It is a spectacle, with flags from each nation lining the ring next to dogs and their handlers. It highlights the truly international feel to the Eukanuba World Challenge and you can't help getting a caught up in the moment.

JR: What one word would describe your feelings upon hearing Ricky announced as a finalist?

JL: Relief!

JR: Why relief?

JL: Because for all that I keep saying that this trip was only about having fun, the truth is we are competitive people. And not only that, I felt a sense of obligation to do well out there because of all the support we had received in the UK throughout the year and leading right up to the show. We had so many calls and messages of encouragement, including a massive card signed by all the Poodle people which we took with us for luck. People were following along on the live-streaming back home, too. It felt like so many were pulling for us, and I guess I didn't want to let them down. So I figured making it to the finals was a case of job done, and no matter what happened after that we would go back to England happy.

JR: How were your nerves prior to Sunday's final, and what was going on in your mind inside the ring?

JL: I was honestly never nervous. These are the types of moments we live for! Ricky is so much fun to show, and is a dog that you can stand away from and allow to showcase himself. I was eager to get in there and get to work! When they announced the order we would go in the ring, I noticed I was next to the American Dobermann bitch ''Fifi'' whose not only earned a tremendous record, but is the ultimate show dog. I remember thinking that I would have to take some risks and give Ricky a lot of freedom out there if he was going to hold his own next to her.

JR: He certainly did hold his own! Describe the moment he was announced as the winner.

JL: I felt Ricky was absolutely on fire, and did everything I asked him to. He seemed to sharpen his performance each time he went into the ring and truly saved the best for last! When Mr Martínez began to announce the winners, it was the Dobermann as 1st runner-up, and then the famous Dogo Argentino… and when we were called as the winners, I hugged Ricky for what felt like five minutes before going to the centre of the ring to accept the award! And then he did his trademark ''bow'' in front of the crowd which pretty much sums up the clownish nature of this wonderful dog!

JR: Looking back on your successful trip to Orlando, what would you say this win means to you?

JL: The EWC has grown from an exciting idea into a fully-fledged, world-renowned event. It's the dog world's answer to the Olympics I suppose. To win there, a first for a British dog, and with one we've bred, owned and handled is something we will always be proud of, and we are so grateful to Eukanuba for giving our hobby such a grand showcase for the world to see. I'll remember that feeling for a long time!

JR: What is next for you after what you describe yourself as the ‘most wonderful year’?

JL: In the immediate future Ricky will be shown one last time, at Crufts, before he is retired from competition in the UK. We think he has more than earned it! Our long-term plans revolve around what he might produce for us. I think the hobby of breeding and showing dogs is all about looking ahead, whether it is the next show or the next generation of puppies. We are already dreaming about Ricky's potential to create a worthy successor to carry on the legacy we've been blessed with.

JR: Thanks very much Jason for taking the time to share your experience with us. All the best for your next challenges and hope to see you soon around the world’s dog show rings.

Media contacts:

Lars Ortlieb
Communications P & G Petcare

+41 79 230 59 85
Johanna Rhomberg
Communications P & G Petcare

+41 79 734 01 70