The European Open for many competitors is seen as a stepping stone to the World Championships (FCI All World Championships (AWC)). For others it's a normal competition albeit with international handlers.
This year was different. With the AWC in South Africa many countries decided not to send teams which had the effect of increasing the entry at the EO.
Many current and past World Champions were there this year as it maybe their only chance to compete with the world's top agility handlers. 34 Countries and 800 dogs were represented which made it a colourful and diverse competition.
|Three times Medium World Champion Natasha Wise & Dizzy and new European Champion Sian Illingworth & Maybe - I'm the arm on the right holding the flag!|
Another difference this year was the competition was held indoors - thankfully. Although this presented different challenges with logistics, dust, high temperatures and ring sizes, it meant the show could go on when the thunderstorms came through on Saturday. The storm was so intense they had to bring a digger into one ring to excavate a drainage channel!
Organising an event of this size is a huge task. The team behind the scenes worked tirelessly answering the many questions. The challenge they have is people like me (Team Managers) actually go out of their way to ask questions even if they have a sneaking suspicion of what the answer maybe. Why? For me I want my team to be best prepared when they are on the start line, I needed to be able to answer any question they had so there is no baggage in their minds to worry about. One question I had from the team was how the electronic countdown on the table worked. Try explaining beep, beep, beep, beep, beep beeeeeppppppp to an organiser!
It will be interesting to see how the event pans out next year. This year may have set a new direction with world class standards of agility seen, many world champions competing, indoor arenas and high expectations set. The question for me will be is this the warm up event for the AWC or is it a development opportunity for future stars.