Rosanne DeMascio and Strafe Win Crufts International Finals

Stafe photo credit: Linda Gore GBR
photo credit: Linda Gore GBR
Rosanne DeMascio and her border collie All Zet Air Attack Strafe impressed at the International Invitational agility competition at the prestigious Crufts dog show this past weekend, winning the finals. The International competition featured dogs from across the globe. Dogs are not able to qualify to compete in this class; rather, the event is an invitational. Of note, this particular event only includes large dogs. You can watch the entire 32 minute-long finals broadcast on YouTube.

The competition began with a rousing introduction to each of the 17 finalists as they walked around the ring with their dog and nation’s flag. After that, the commentators walked the viewers through a very cool 3-D rendering of the testing course designed by Gary Murphy of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, who started judging agility in 2010.

Interestingly, the first four competitors to run had been eliminated in either agility (standard) or jumping (jumpers) and were not eligible to actually win the finals under the rules of the competition, although they were able to demonstrate their skills on course (a nice incentive for competitors who travelled a long distance for the event). Of these first four dogs, a crowd favorite was Turbo Toby from Portugal, a 6-year old golden retriever handled by Sergio de Sousa who put in a clear round of 35.15.

Danish champion Ice, a very fast and vocal border collie handled by Kim Gravlund-Krat, missed the weave entry and struck the broad jump, resulting in multiple faults. Alex Sabini and border collie Mind from Spain jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a great 34.678 run. After taking 2nd place overall in the British Open event earlier in the weekend, Susie Josty and border collie Ozzie from Wales ran clean with a 36.706 to move into second place for the moment. The next team, France’s Cynthia Perrier and border collie Heross, missed the down contact on the dogwalk and bypassed the broad jump. Up next, Timo Liuhto from Finland, with border collie Punssi also missed the down contact on the dogwalk but otherwise posted a very nice 35.015.

Catherine Porter from Northern Ireland with border collie Yogi, a 4-time veteran of this event, became the third straight dog to miss the dogwalk exit, which happened right after Yogi knocked a brick off the wall jump. Yogi also ticked the end of the broad jump. Sweden’s dashing Jouni Orenius and his border collie Neela had a very close down contact on the dogwalk but was not called, and knocked down the broad jump but with a great 33.904 that would have taken over first place.

Alan Short and Juice, the Scottish agility dog of the year, appeared to miss the down contact on the dogwalk as well but was not called, finished with a 34.72 which put him into 2nd place, behind leader Alex Sabini and Mind’s 34.678. Next up, Rosanne DeMascio and Strafe from the United States put in a great run, but appeared to miss the aframe down contact, drawing a gasp from the crowd but no call from the judge, and finishing with a great time of 33.795.

Shortly after the competition, a youtube video appeared that very clearly showed Strafe miss the down contact on the aframe in slow motion. A fault would have given first place to Alex Sabini and Mind of Spain. As every competitor knows, judges are not perfect. However, as agility continues to grow in popularity, high profile mistakes like this will continue to raise the issue of quality control and the potential benefits and drawbacks of an instant replay system.

After that, Tanya Wiersma and border collie Mystic, from the Netherlands, put in a nice clear round of 36.723, putting her in 5th place. England’s Greg Derrett and his 7-year old border collie Rehab had a wonderful start to the course but missed the down contact of the aframe. The last competitor was Belgium’s Geertje Schijf and Jammy, with a nice 35.379 that put her in fourth place.

Final Standings

  1. All Zet Air Attack Strafe (Rosanne DeMascio) 33.795
  2. l’Mind de Loustalarie des Bour (Alex Sabini Requescens) 34.678
  3. Give It Some Juice Irn Bruce (Alan Short) 34.720
  4. Jamaican Me Crazy from Let’s B (Geertje Schijf) 35.379
  5. Cool Beans (Susie Josty) 36.706

This win adds another impressive accomplishment to Rosanne and Strafe’s glowing international portfolio, which includes a second place finish in a field of over 300 dogs at the European Open in 2013. In total, Strafe has earned his way onto Team USA three times for the European Open, and twice for the FCI Agility World Championship, with top ten finishes at both events.

The United States, through the American Kennel Club, selected Rosanne and Strafe based on their accomplishment as the highest finishing American dog (9th overall) at last year’s FCI Agility World Championship in Italy. Last year, Desiree Snelleman and border collie Pace represented the U.S. at Crufts, while Rosanne and Strafe debuted at Crufts in 2014.

This week, Strafe returns to the United States as a top contender seeking a national title, as the AKC will hold the National Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 18-20. You can follow this event on livestream presented by 4LeggedFlix.

Esteban Fernandezlopez

A long time agility competitor and co-creator of Bad Dog Agility, Esteban is serving as the first Editor-in-Chief of Dog Agility NOW.