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Best in show breeders team

Orical takes home the most prestigious honour for a breeder in Australia

The Sydney Royal Easter Show is the largest ticketed event held in Australia, and one of the largest in the world. It's canine competition consists of dog sports, and a conformation, 'dog show'. This is a highly prestigious event, attracting dog exhibitors from throughout Australia, and well respected international judges who are flown in to judge the event.

The Royal Show has a long history with dogs, with the first canine competition taking place in 1869. Today, more than 150 years later, the green dog judging lawns have become the pinnacle event for dog exhibitors and breeders.

The 'Breeders Team' class can be entered by a team of 4+ dogs, that are 6 months of age or older, and all bred by the same breeder. The class is judged on the conformation of the dogs, including breed type, and the dogs in the team being similar to each other to show the consistency in the breeding. This is a prestigious event for breeders as it demonstrates the quality of a breeders dogs.

The dog show component of the Sydney Royal Show is held across 10 days, with the last day being 'General Specials', the grand final so to speak where Best in Show and the top honours are awarded.

On Good Friday, it was the Finnish Lapphund breed day. You can read about our wonderful Orical achievements in this component of the show in our blog post from Friday. One of the highlights of the day, was our Orical Breeders Team winning Best Breeders Team for Finnish Lapphunds, and then going on to win Best Breeders Team of the day, with both wins under judge Mr. Shawn Nichols (Canada). Here is our winning Breeders Team on Friday:

Best breeders team of the day podium photo:

Lappies L-R: Akela, Possum, Maeve, Primrose

Handlers L-R: Katrina Long, Danielle Giacovani, Amber Frankland, Melissa Sparrow

As we won Breeders Team of the Day, we were invited back on Easter Monday for General Specials, the 'Grand Finals', which is such a privilege. We had some logistics to handle behind the scenes, as two of our breeders team handlers, Melissa Sparrow and Amber Frankland, were driving home to Melbourne the following day, with Maeve, who was in the breeders team. And in the excitement and hive of activity of Friday, Possum had left with her owners and travelled back to their home in Orange, NSW. After some chats and organisation on Friday evening, we had arranged for Maeve to stay, and fly home to Melbourne later the following week, and for Possum to get picked up on Sunday. Deryk and Jordan Long kindly stepped in as handlers, and the breeders team outfit colours were decided to be blue and white, the national colours of Finland.

Our judge for Breeders Team in Show was Mr. Juha Kares from Finland. Mr Kares is an extremely well respected judge and breeder worldwide, breeding under the Chic Choix prefix in Finland. Mr Kares has had 650 champions (wowee!) and is a prolific writer, and I have enjoyed reading many of his breeder focused articles over the years. Mr Kares had judged our breed specialty a few days earlier, giving our girl Possum Best in Specialty Show, and providing lovely feedback on our dogs, so we were hopeful he may take an interest in our team when judging Best in Show Breeders Team.

I myself couldn't be there on the day, as my mother recently had surgery and I was in Newcastle for the long Easter weekend caring for her. The last day of the Royal is live streamed on YouTube, so I watched along with everyone else.

Here is the Best in Show Breeders Team section:

Imagine all of our excitement when it was announced, 'The Finnish Lapphund!' Such an amazing achievement for a lesser known breed, a team of 4 bitches (usually it's the males that are more impressive looking in the show ring) and for a breed where consistency is difficult to breed due to the very low inbreeding of the breed as a whole. One in our team isn't even a champion yet and this was only her 3rd set of shows (Possum), and Maeve has been sparingly shown.

Also, while we try our best, Orical is not a huge show kennel that advertises and promotes itself to judges.

But, if there's one thing I have learnt to rely on that is that a Finnish judge will always recognise good quality dogs, regardless of anything else.

Video fun fact: When Katrina and Mr Kares have a 'moment' of huge surprised smiles together after judging, it was because Katrina said 'Kiitos' (Finnish for thank you) to Mr. Kares, and he was highly surprised hearing his native tongue in Australia!

I must admit many tears were shed, by myself, Katrina and Danielle. We have had so much show ring success over the past few years, each one topping the last and I think to myself 'wow, that is it, that's the highest honour', but this achievement truely is the pinnacle. That it was at the Sydney Royal Show, and under such an esteemed Finnish judge. It doesn't get any better than that. I know how hard I have worked over the past 12 years, how much I have personally and professionally sacrificed, how much heart and soul I've given to my breeding program, how much I have tried to learn and develop. I am so incredibly proud of my breeding program, proud of the dogs I've bred, and proud of my beautiful Orical community. This amazing recognition at the 2024 Sydney Royal Show is truely the icing on top. Kiitos Mr Kares for your kind recognition.

L-R: Mr. Juha Kares (Finland), Danielle Giacovani, Katrina Long, Jordan Long, Deryck Long

L-R: Possum, Akela, Maeve, Primrose

Have you ever seen a happier judge! 'Joie de vivre'

This achievement would not have been possible without: my right hand women, Katrina Long and Danielle Giacovani, our breed day handlers and supporters Melissa Sparrow and Amber Frankland, our General Specials handlers Dercyk and Jordan Long. And the owners of the 4 beautiful girls in our team- Katrina long, Amber Frankland and Talia and Evan Zell.

I thought I'd include a little bio on each of the 4 beautiful Lappie girls who made up our breeders team:


Orical Asteria WNPD

Possum is from our litter between Reimu and Parra, born in 2020. This was a standout litter, with sisters Kaia and Athena also being very promising. Talia Zell had been following the breed some time, and was wanting a puppy that she could train for tricks etc and occasionally show. Possum, or Asteria as she was then, was the stand out in the litter for both. She reminded me greatly of her grandmother Asta in mentality, in that she was very intelligent (hence why her registered name is a variation of Asta).

Talia has given Possum an amazing life, she lives part country and part city, and when in her country house she rides on the tractor, herds chickens into their coop and enjoys farm life. She has an incredible trick repertoire, including jumping rope, playing chess and counting. Talia has put that Asta brain to excellent use!

Recognising Possum's potential for the show ring, we borrowed her for our trip to Victoria in November 2023, where I was so impressed with her and I told Katrina she deserved to beat the Queen Akela sometimes. She did get a nice Runner Up to Best in Group under Mr Mr Harri Lehkonen (Finland) at Sunbury. We knew she just needed a bit more show training to have consistent results in the showring.

Danielle borrowed Possum for some local shows a couple of months ago, and then for the Sydney Royal. Where she was second in her class to Primrose for breed judging, but then awarded Best in Specialty Show for the FLCNSW specialty.

For Possum to handle the noisy and busy atmosphere of the royal like a seasoned show professional is a testament to her breeding, upbringing and Talia's training.

Side note: Possum reminds me of her maternal great grandmother, the legendary Dagolas Haltiatar.

Possum is now on 80-odd points, on her way to he championship, with a Best in Specialty Show, Best in Show Breeders Team and Runner Up in Group under her belt already!

Photo: Possum Runner up to Best in Group at Sunbury 2023, under Mr. Harri Lehkonen (Finland).


Ch. Orical Girl on Fire (AI)

Maeve is from our litter of two from Akela and Lecibsin Macce, born in 2019. We knew that from two such exceptional parents that their offspring would likely be exceptional as well, and we weren't wrong, with both girls maturing to be such stunning examples of the breed.

Maeve lives with our friend Amber Frankland in Victoria, sparingly shown, she received her Australian Championship title last year. Maeve is a solidly built girl with great structure, who easily holds her own next to her 4 x BISS mother Akela, and 2 x BIS sister Primrose.

We were so thrilled that Amber and Maeve could come to the Sydney Royal Show, as they live in Victoria, it was a big trip for them. And extra work for Amber as we needed to hold onto Maeve for the Best in Show day and fly her home afterwards. Thank you Amber, the Team could not have done it without her!


Gr Ch. Orical Kirsi of Jove (AI) WNPD.

Akela hardly needs an introduction- I would safely say she is the 'most winning' Finnish Lapphund girl in Australia, past and present (someone is welcome to email me if you disagree), with 4 x Best in Specialty Show wins under her belt. She has been highly regarded by breed specialists Ms. Saara Sampakoski (Fin), Mr. Tapio Kakko (Fin). Mr. Esa Ruotsalainen (Fin), Ms Toni Jackson (UK).

Akela is from my Finnish import Dagolas Zeena, Asta, and Ch Eisenfest Flynn Rider, whose frozen semen I imported for this litter (before later importing him himself).

She was a truely stand out puppy who I knew was destined for great things, hence entrusting her to Katrina. I could not be prouder of all of their accomplishments over the years, which have been in part to her breeding, but also in part to Katrina's extreme dedication in care, diet, exercise, training and grooming.

While producing very small litters, Akela has produced very high quality puppies that will continue to build on the quality of our breeding program.


Gr Ch. Orical New Beginnings (AI) WNPD. ET.

Primrose is from our special Akela and Lecibsin Macce litter, born in 2019.

Primrose truely hit the ground running as a baby puppy in the show ring, and hasn't stopped. Even with being on 'maternity leave' for 2 litters, she has achieved her Grand Championship with ease, and within the last 6 months has won 2 x Best in Shows at All Breeds shows, which is a major accomplishment for a Finnish Lapphund.

Onnea Team Orical!

Congratulations Team Orical!


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