Yogi wins Best in Show at Crufts

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A Hungarian Vizsla took the coveted title of Best in Show at the world famous Crufts dog show.

The seven-year-old, whose pet name is Yogi, beat off competition from six other prize dogs in last night's culmination of the four-day show at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre (NEC).

Taking second place was a Scottish Terrier from Russia, whose pet name is Rico.

As wild applause from thousands of spectators greeted the dog, who is from Carlisle, Cumbria, his handler John Thirlwell said: "He is just such a wonderful dog, I am just pleased that he stood up to it."

Yogi, who won the Gundog group earlier in the evening, is the first Hungarian Vizsla to win Best in Show at Crufts and Mr Thirlwell said he is likely to retire now.

Judge Valerie Foss said: "He is such a lovely mover, so powerful, so free.

"He is just a very, very good dog."

The Kennel Club said almost 22,000 dogs across 187 breeds were entered into this year's Best in Show competition.

They had been whittled down in their individual categories during the four-day contest to just seven competitors - one from each group - who battled it out last night.

The Best in Show prize has been awarded for the past 79 years, with 40 breeds winning the coveted title over the years.

Thousands of dog-lovers packed the arena to cheer on the finalists.

They refused to be distracted by a protester, who was escorted from the crowd as she held up a banner and started shouting during the tense moment of judging, and instead masked it with a round of applause.

At the start of this year's event protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) claimed breeders were "creating a Frankenstein's monster of a dog".

The canine showcase was broadcast on More4 this year after the BBC - which began screening Crufts in 1966 - announced it was dropping its coverage in December 2008.

The decision followed a BBC documentary claiming Crufts allowed damaging breeding practices that caused disease and deformities.

The RSPCA also withdrew its support in 2008 because of welfare concerns.

Since then, the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust jointly funded an independent inquiry in a bid to tackle inbreeding in pedigrees, puppy farming and other welfare issues.

As well as coverage on More4, Crufts was streamed live online and its official site on social networking site Facebook attracted more than 21,000 fans.

The judging of the Gundog category - which Yogi won - was interrupted by a streaker who invaded the arena.

After his win Mr Thirlwell said Yogi, who is owned by Naomi Cragg and Kathryn Armstrong, now has 18 Best in Shows under his belt.

The record holding dog's competition name is Show Champion/Australian Champion Hungargunn Bear It'N Mind.

Mr Thirlwell said: "It hasn't sunk in, it is just so surreal. Yogi is seven now and has had a fantastic year. We are just absolutely delighted!"

He said Yogi would probably retire now, adding: "That's the best you can get."

Yogi fought off competition not only from Reserve Best in Show Scottish Terrier Rico, but also a Rottweiler from Rotherham, a Welsh Corgi (Cardigan) from Littlehampton, Sussex, and a Pharaoh Hound from Sweden.

Also in the final were a Maltese from Northampton and an Akita from West Lancashire.

Kennel Club communications director Caroline Kisko said: "We give our congratulations to Naomi, Kathryn and Yogi who has taken the prestigious Best in Show Award.

"DFS Crufts is a celebration of healthy, happy dogs which recognises the special and unique bond between dogs and their owners.

"Anybody who has been watching the television coverage provided by More4 will have seen the wonderful diversity of dogs, the fact that they truly are fit for function and how much dogs and people enrich each other's lives."

Also presented last night was the Kennel Club's Friends for Life award, which recognises the country's dog heroes.

The award went to nine-year-old Sam Daly, from Eton, Berkshire, and his assistance dog, Labrador Retriever Josie.

Sam, who suffers from a muscle-wasting disease, was matched with Josie by Dogs for the Disabled in 2008.

The Spurs fan seemed overwhelmed as he accepted his award, which was voted by members of the public, saying of Josie: "She is my best friend."

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