Will 2016 be remembered as the Year of the Novice? Of the three major events held this year so far, the award for Best Lizard canary has gone to Novices at two. Hot on the heels of Tony Horton’s win at the National, in only his second show season, came Darran Keeley who went one better by winning the Classic in his first. Only David Newton has upheld the honour of the Champions by winning the East Anglian show.
Another feature of the 2016 show season is that the Novices are outnumbering the Champions. 122 birds (excluding sales birds) were benched at this year’s Classic: 50 Champion and 72 Novice. You would have to go back to the 1990s to have seen more Novice Lizards on the bench (1).
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of all is that the overall quality of the Novice birds is good; many would give the Champions a run for their money.
The number of Novices at the Classic tends to go in cycles, not least because exhibitors have only a few years to establish themselves (2) before being obliged to move up to Champion status. The LCA is currently enjoying an upsurge in the ranks of Novices; always a good sign for the future.
The ‘Specials’ winners are listed below, but here are my own highlights and other observations:
Darran Keeley’s Best in Show was a high-coloured, fine-feathered near-non cap gold hen that got rather tired in the afternoon, yet held her spangles well throughout the day. I can understand how she caught judge John Martin’s eye.
David Newton had an outstanding team at the show, winning Best Champion with a super non cap gold cock as well as six of the Champion classes. This bird was much admired, but I thought David’s clear cap silver hen and his broken cap gold hen were just as good (i.e. outstanding).
Wayne Elton had a strong team on show, with excellent spangles, rowings and colour across his birds. I thought his cock birds were outstanding. Still learning, Wayne is laying solid foundations for the future.
Tony Horton maintained his winning streak with several wins in the Novice classes and Specials.
A notable absentee from the Specials prize list was Stan Bolton. Stan has defied his problems during the breeding season, and been in contention at earlier shows, but admitted he’d got his show preparation wrong on this occasion. Despite those difficulties, he had some nice birds on show.
There were other exhibitors who may not have hit the headlines, but whose birds are going in the right direction. My only regret is not having enough time to talk to them all.
My award for the most eye-catching feature goes to Andy Williamson’s broken cap silver hen with outstanding spangling on her head.
Whatever happened to the clear cap gold hens? Only three birds entered across the Champion and Novice classes.
Amongst the visitors, it was good see Tomas Hernandez in fine form, and even better to see that many exhibitors had brought their wives and partners to the show, with the notable absence of Bhorn Bolton sadly laid up with a broken ankle.
Finally a word of praise for LCA judges (in this case John Martin, but he is not alone) who are open minded enough to assess Novice birds on their merits. It happens much more often with Lizards than other sections of the hobby. No wonder the LCA Novices are thriving.
- Best in show, Best Novice and Best Novice Non cap : Darran Keeley.
- Best Champion, Best Champ Clear Cap, Best Champ Broken Cap, Best Champ Non Cap, Biggest Champ Class winner and 2nd & 3rd Best Champion: David Newton.
- Best Champion over year: Daniel Richmond.Best Novice Clear Cap, Biggest Novice Class Winner and 2nd Best Novice: Tony Horton.
- Best Novice Broken Cap and 3rd Best Best Novice: Wayne Elton.
- Best Novice Over Year : Riddle & Page.
My thanks to David Allen for supplying the list of prize winners.
Apologies for the quality of some of the photos; some excellent birds have had to be omitted from the gallery. To compound matters, I didn’t record the name of all the breeders. If you recognise your bird, and haven’t been named, please send a note via the comment box and I’ll be happy to rectify my oversight.
- A record number of 112 Novice Lizards were entered at the 1992 LCA Classic. 95 were entered at the Golden Jubilee show in 1995.
- For the benefit of non-British readers, the Novice classes are open to fanciers who have exhibited for no more than five years. A Novice can move up to Champion status earlier if he or she wishes.