The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster

The Westminster Kennel Club will add to its incomparable legacy in the sport of dogs in 2014 when it stages The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster, on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Pier 94 in New York City.

Following the Club's first-ever Agility Trial, Westminster's 138th Annual All Breed Dog Show will be held in the same location (and also in the evening at Madison Square Garden) on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 10-11.

Westminster is bringing what the American Kennel Club calls "the most exciting canine sport for spectators" to center stage on Westminster weekend. Dogs and their handlers excitedly attack the obstacle course of jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and more in a timed competition in the fastest-growing dog sport in the country.

The Masters Agility Championship at Westminster will be open to dogs competing at Excellent or Masters level. That would include purebred dogs, mixed breeds registered in the AKC's Canine Partners program, Miscellaneous breeds not yet eligible for conformation competition, Foundation Stock Service recorded breeds, and Purebred Alternative Listing dogs (purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered).

The Mixed Breed category is especially significant, bringing non-purebred dogs to a Westminster event for the first time since the very earliest days of its show.

The first widely documented appearance of dog agility was at the Crufts Dog Show in England in 1978. It was originally designed as an entertainment segment between the conformation and obedience rounds, and was enthusiastically embraced by the spectators. Agility intrigued dog owners with its demonstration of speed, agility, and the enthusiasm of the competitors of a variety of breeds, and it quickly grew into an international sport local with standardized equipment.

Westminster has created an innovative format for its first trial. Entries will be done by random draw and will be limited to 450 runs for the Standard and Jumpers with weaves rounds. This does not include the Championship round.

Each dog will compete in two AKC accredited qualifying rounds, consisting of a Standard Agility course and a Jumpers with Weaves course. The dogs with the highest combined scores based on time and faults will move on to the Championship round. More details will be provided in the Premium when it becomes available.

The Championship course will be a hybrid of the qualifying rounds and will be televised. It will be run as a 'time to beat' course, where the first dog will set the baseline time for the subsequent competitors.

Judges will be Andrew Dicker of Reading, England (judging Jumpers with Weaves and small to medium sized dogs in the Championship round) and Lori Sage of Oregon City, Oregon (judging Standard Agility Course and medium-to-large sized dogs in the Championship round).

Entry fee will be $60. For additional details, log on to www.westminsterkennelclub.org or www.fasttimesagility.com.



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