Let me get the usual complaints out of the way. The first weekend in October is far too early for a show as important as the National, but it is a fact of life and we have to live with it. The ‘old’ National, held two months later, was the climax of the show season while the new National is its curtain raiser. It’s still a great occasion though.
Its greatest asset, as was also true of the old National, is the opportunity to meet people; not just Lizard breeders but fanciers of other varieties and breeds. I spent far more time talking to people than I did looking at birds. Long may that continue.
We all know that a good result at the National is rather like a football team winning the first match of the Premier League season. It is no more than an opening skirmish; a win is nice, but even a shock defeat may be only a temporary setback. Take this bird for example, which will surely make her mark at later shows:
It is the performance of the team over the whole season that matters, and the same applies to the Lizard show scene. Yet I have noticed that, over the last five years or so, the winning exhibitors (and often the same birds) have also been victorious at major shows later in the year. The National tells us a lot about the breeders whose show teams are in form; a win here is a better indicator of future success than you might expect.
There were 66 birds in total; not bad for the first week in October. This year, the LCA introduced classes for natural coloured Lizards, following the referendum that voted to suspend the colour feeding rule (1). The innovation proved worthwhile, with visitors being able to enjoy the sight of some excellent Lizards that would otherwise have been obliged to stay at home.
As it happens the Best Novice Lizard (colour-fed) and Second Best Novice (natural colour) were bred by the same fancier: Tony Horton. Tony may be a Novice, but he is a good example of a relative newcomer to the Lizard fancy who has worked steadily to improve his stud to champion standards. His birds have always had good spangles, but now they display good rowings and colour as well. His first major success was a well-merited bronze medal at the World show in 2018. His performance at this year’s National confirms that it was not a fluke; his stud has strength in depth.
Best Lizard and Best Novice was Tony’s clear cap silver hen, an attractive bird that excelled in spangle, but who was just past her best when the show was open to visitors.
I was drawn to his Second Best Novice, a broken cap gold hen whose spangles were distinct and always lined up; she had good colour and rowings too. She displayed her qualities throughout the day, an important asset in a show bird.
Amongst the champions, it was Andy Williamson who held centre stage, winning both Best and Second Best Champion. His winner was an attractive non cap silver hen, but unfortunately she was looking tired when I viewed her in the afternoon. The second, a clear cap gold hen, was in better form.
Noel Sidney, Keith Johnson and Carlos de Santa Ana may have missed out on the major prizes, but I’m sure they’ll be optimistic about their future chances now that the birds have had the benefit of this experience.
I thought that Chris Jordan’s judging was spot on, though no doubt he will have more to say in his official report which will be published in a future edition of Cage and Aviary Birds. The show season will be well under way by the time it is published, and there will be more birds in contention, but Tony’s success was well merited and his birds set the standard for others to beat in 2019 – if they can.
- The suspension of the colour-feeding rule means that natural coloured Lizards are eligible at LCA patronage shows for the 2019 season.
- Apologies for the confusion in my first draft of this report. The judge, Chris Jordan, has since pointed out that there was no award for Second Best Lizard. The text has been revised accordingly