Business as usual? Not quite. There were obvious signs that 2021 was a transitional year; the covid lockdown had cast its shadow over the event. There were plenty of visitors, but not the crush of previous years; there were fewer trade stands in the sales halls and fewer rows of staging in the exhibition hall. Nevertheless, it was a welcome return of the National Exhibition.
One section that bucked the trend was the Lizard canaries. A total of 80 birds had been entered: 52 Champion colour-fed birds, 18 Champion natural coloured Lizards, and 10 colour-fed Novice birds. This is the highest number for many years, and a remarkable turnout for the first week in October.
Judge Andy Williamson had good light for his adjudication, although it had deteriorated noticeably by the time the public were admitted. He was ably assisted by chief steward Chris Jordan and show secretary Tony Horton. Andy later commented that “the standard was very high for time of year and definitely one of the best I’ve seen at Stafford”.
The awards for Best and Second Best Lizard went to the father and son partnership of Rob and Ian Wright. The winner was a clear cap gold cock with a neat oval cap and broad shoulders that displayed his spangles to great effect; the runner-up was a clear cap silver hen with a good cap and lovely rowings and spangles.
They are relative newcomers to Lizards but their birds made a big impact, being beaten only once in the colour-fed classes. The exception was the broken cap silver cock class where Carlos Santa Ana took first and second places. The Wrights also won a class in the natural coloured Lizard section, but the specials went elsewhere.
Novices have deservedly triumphed at the previous two editions of the National, but in the absence of Danny Higgins (who hadn’t entered any birds) and Tony Horton (who has moved up to Champion), the battle for Best Novice Lizard was fought between Jon Martin and Nick Rayson, the latter winning with a broken cap gold cock. I hope they will both take note of the progress that Tony made during his Novice years, culminating with a gold medal at the World Show.
The National Exhibition exceeded my expectations in terms of both the number and quality of the Lizard canaries. Of course these are early days, there will be more competitive shows to come, but it’s good to see that the exhibition scene is back and that Lizard fanciers are as keen as ever.