Favored Springer Wins Westminster
Westminster, the creme de la creme of dog shows, is noted for its surprises and the successes of underdogs. But not this year.
Champion Salilyn's Condor, an English springer spaniel who answers to the name of Robert, was the sentimental and co-favorite to win it all last night. And the 45-pounder didn't disappoint.
The liver-and-white-coated 5-year-old champion, co-owned by 88-year-old Julia Gasow of Troy, Mich., and Dr. and Mrs. Roger Herzig of Louisville, Ky., handled by Mark Threlfall of Lehighton, Pa., swept to the title last night before 10,000 onlookers in New York's Madison Square Garden.
For Gasow, who has been coming to Westminster for almost 50 years, it was a particularly sweet win and big emotional lift. Last week her husband, Frederick, died.
En route to the title, Robert defeated a field of 25 breed winners in the sporting group. But his competition in the Select Seven was fierce, including an outstanding effort by Champion Lajosmegyi Dahu Digal, a komondor co-owned by Anna Quigley and Patricia Turner of Chehalis and handled by Quigley.
It appeared best-in-show arbiter Barbara Heller of Sarasota, Fla., gave serious consideration to the 110-pound Dahu along with Champion Altana's Mystique, a superb young German shepherd owned by Jane Firestone of Southern Pines, N.C., and handled by James Moses of Roswell, Ga.
Heller, who took just 16 minutes to make the decision, said, "This dog was as close to perfection as you can come. That says it all. But it was a high-quality field, which didn't make my decision easy."
Robert, a finalist at Westminster last year, became the first of his breed to capture the best-in-show rosette since 1972.
The 5-year-old Mystique had won a phenomenal 97 consecutive group championships - and eight bests-in-show already this year - prior to the Garden competition.
In addition to Robert, two other group winners joined the Select Seven final last night, along with Monday's four group winners. They were the hound representative, Champion Fox Runs Ivy Rose, a borzoi, owned by Ronald Mater and Joanne Hack of Dearborn Heights, Mich., and the toy titlist, Champion Briarcourt's Damien Gable, a Pekingese owned by Nancy Shapland of Raynham, Mass.
Early in the evening, Stacy Duncan, 17, of Woodinville, won the coveted junior handlers championship in a field of 124.
Handling 3-year-old Ridgewyn's Summer Soltice, an English springer spaniel she co-owns with Gary Zayac of Kalama, the Inglemoor High School junior posted her second major victory in a month. In January she was tabbed the top junior handler at the American Spaniel Club National Specialty in New Jersey.
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