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A Report on the first Final of the Royal Canin
Northern Non Pedigree Stakes

After the last Northern Non-Pedigree Stakes Final last year, an occasion of mixed feelings for me, at least of relief tinged with sadness.

It was a year during which I wondered how support for the new Royal Canin Stakes would stand up, in the light of a reduced range of prizes, whilst hoping that previous contestants would throw their weight behind the new competition in recognition of Royal Canin’s generosity in taking over its sponsorship.

The Northern Final of the Royal Canin Non Pedigree Stakes Competition took place at the North West Cat Club Show at the end of September, and the winner was ‘M C ALFRED’, a tabby and white shorthair, owned by Mrs P. Kidd. Also pictured are the judges (left to right) Simon Twigge, Pina Meakin and Susan Woodward.

I need not have worried. I was delighted to witness the same degree of competitiveness in the heats, the same joy at being announced the Overall Winner at the shows and the excellent 20 out of 23 possible finalists not only entered but also all present and correct on the day!

I think, and I hope, that Royal Canin would agree, that this justifies their decision to sponsor the Northern Stakes and I also hope that this level of support will be maintained in the future, especially as Royal Canin did add afew nice extra touches for the Final by way of bigger and better rosettes and a keepsake trophy.

The three finals of the forerunner to the RC Stakes, the NNPS, had attracted 19, 21 and 21 cats, the two levels of 21 being out of a larger number of potential qualifiers, so this year’s 20 showed that there had been no loss of interest due to the minor alterations in the competition.

Many of the “usual” faces were there, including the only two cats who have made it four in a row, qualifying for all three NNPS Finals, and this first RC Stakes final too, Cath Jackson’s Alex and Pat Kidd’s Alfred, both, coincidentally, in the Tabby, Tabby & White Class. There was an extra class this year too, as the RC Stakes has an additional LH/SLH class, and for the Final the classes and winners were:-

Black/White/Black & White SH – Heather Bradley’s TOM;
Tabby, Tabby & White SH - Pat Kidd’s ALFRED (one of last year’s finalists);
Ginger/ Ginger & White, Tortie/Tortie & White – Pat Creaton & Carol Walker’s RAINBOW DREAMCATCHER;
LH/SLH – Peter & Jean Leigh’s NOCTURNE;
AOC SH - Pauline Christian’s TEDDY BOY (last year’s winner).

The five Finalists were then judged across the table by the three judges, Mr S. Twigge, Mrs P. Meakin and Mrs S. Woodward. The three judges had all travelled a considerable distance to offer their services with Simon Twigge, respected HP judge and Joint Show Manager of the Yorkshire County Cat Club having come from Sheffield; Pina Meakin of Bella Penning and also a respected HP judge, having travelled from Surrey and Susan Woodward from Leicester.

Susan was the only first-timer amongst the judges, she owns a recently Crufts-qualified Pekinese and is actually training to become a dog judge, although she is owned by a part-Persian cat at home. After much deliberation, and to the sound of thunderous applause, the winner was announced as Pat Kidd’s ALFRED, who was presented with his rosette and trophy by Show Manager Lesley Muffitt.

At this point I really feel that, on behalf of all the non-pedigree exhibitors and, indeed, Royal Canin, I should offer Lesley a huge vote of thanks for the unstinting support she has given the NNPS, and now the RC Stakes.

The Final is not hidden away as just another set of Classes within a large Championship show as it could easily have been; instead Lesley does her utmost to make an occasion of it, culminating in the class winners being table, rather than pen, judged, usually in front of a good audience responding to a loudspeaker announcement of the Final judging.

There is a winner’s pen alongside the BIS pens and the trophy is presented rather than just placed in the pen. This all helps to make the Final that little bit special, thank you Lesley!
The prizes this year were kindly donated by Royal Canin and comprised a 2kg bag of food for each entrant, a 4kg bag for each Class winner and a 10kg bag for the Overall Winner, plus an engraved trophy and super rosettes.

The rosettes were produced by Premiere Rosettes who, on instruction from Royal Canin to make them a bit bigger and better for the Final, did us all proud with superb rosettes with which I, for one, am proud to decorate my wall!

This all bodes well for a continued interest in the competition for future years, long may the competition reign!

Next year’s Northern Final will, once again, thanks to Lesley and her team, be held at the North West Show on 29th September 2007 and this time the Club will also be hosting a heat of the following year’s competition, so all the more reason to come along!

On the subject of the Royal Canin Stakes in particular, it is lovely to see all but one, I think, of the northern clubs now involved with the recent decision of the Preston & Blackpool to come on board and, exciting news, there is now also a Scottish competition, with additional southern clubs coming along all the time.

Soon, it is hoped, the competition will be truly national, especially if the other regions embrace the competition with the enthusiasm of the northern region; then the competition is in safe hands and should have a promising future.

So any clubs out there not already participating, please get in touch and we can add you to the region of your choice.

Further information can be obtained from the following:-

John Robinson (main co-ordinator and Western Challenge) on 07810 881400 or email energyoptions@tiscali.co.uk

Christian Romeril (Royal Canin) on 07770 814703 or email cromeril@crownpetfoods.co.uk

Janet Tonkinson (Midlands) on 01782 641190 or email janet.tenaj@btinternet.com

Carol Walker (Northern) on 07855 842707 or email on rcstakes@srpcc.co.uk

Finally our very grateful thanks go to Royal Canin in general and Christian Romeril in particular for taking on the mammoth task of sponsoring the competition, which, incidentally, currently represents the company’s biggest single investment in the world of cat shows.

It is fitting, therefore, that this year’s winner, Alfred, is fed on Royal Canin, as are at least two more of the five finalists and many of the other entrants.