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FIRST WINNER OF NORTHERN NON-PEDIGREE STAKES

Carol Walker reports as Cath Jackson's tortie tabby & white, Lucinda, becomes the winner of the very first NNPS on Saturday 27th September 2003.

It seems hardly five minutes since I spent two solid days on the telephone begging, cajoling and persuading sponsors to support a new competition for the non-pedigrees in the north to replace the soon-to-be defunct Whiskas Stakes yet here we were with the very first Grand Final judging about to take place.  In fact it is 15 months since it all began, Whiskas are now long gone from GCCF shows and, I am happy to report, the NNPS seems to have become an established and accepted part of the show catalogue in the north. 21 cats qualified for the first ever Grand Final, held at the North West Cat Club show in Altrincham on Saturday 27th September 2003; 18 entered and 16 of those turned up. The two absentees were due to one of the cats having been caught in the eye by a playmate and  the illness of the owner of the other. The Final was keenly contested by the remaining 16, spread over four Classes, every single one in with a fighting chance of becoming the first ever winner.  
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The array of prizes was superb, the sponsors did us proud. For the qualifiers there were personalised mementos – picture, certificate and key ring (the latter certainly attracted some excellent feedback) – courtesy of the South Ribble Pet Cat Club, a free brush and a Felix feed mat courtesy of Pets at Home, Techni-Cal samples from AJM Pet Products and a food sample and discount voucher from Smylee Pets.  That was just for being there! For the cats who came third in the Classes there were bags containing 2kg of James Wellbeloved and a food offer voucher, both from Smylee Pets, with the second placed cats getting the same plus several small cat toys and a “worthy bag” (very useful small plastic container with green plastic rubbish bags ideal for the car or cat shows). The Class winners were treated to 3kg of Techni-Cal (AJM Pet Products), 12.5ltr Bio-Catolet cat litter (Midas Products), a £20 voucher from Pets at Home  and a small tabby cat figurine from Country Artists. All first three placed cats in each Class also received a rosette kindly sponsored by the North West Cat Club. 

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And the Overall Winner? In addition to the prizes for winning the Class the lucky winner also received 7.5 kg of Techni-Cal (AJM Pet products), 12.5ltr Bio-Catolet cat litter (Midas Products), a superb cat bed/scratch centre courtesy of Kalven, a further £20 Pets at Home voucher, a large cat figurine from Country Artists, a 6 month subscription from Our Cats, a 12 month subscription from Cat World, a trophy from SRPCC (to keep) and a free photo sitting from Alan Robinson. There were further rosettes, an overall winners one (sponsored by the NWCC) and three runners up rosettes (sponsored by Bella Penning).  
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The first results to come in were from the Tabby and Ginger/Tortie classes – the winners being Cath Jackson’s tabby boy, Alex and Pat Kidd’s tortie & white, Hannah. Then came the AOC, Cath Jackson’s tortie tabby & white, Lucinda – Cath had a fantastic day with both of her two qualifiers becoming Grand Finalists! Judge Chris Stalker, then kept us in suspense for the final result, the Black/White/Black & White Class. When this arrived it carried a surprise for us – our Littleman Raffles was beaten into second place by our other entrant, Little Rascal. Not that we minded, we were overjoyed to have a Finalist, but Raffles still is not speaking to Rascal! Chris did speak to us later, saying that the pressure on the judges for the NNPS Classes was intense, being fully aware, as she was, that each and every one of the 16 had had to win an overall heat to be there. Every cat was, therefore, more than worthy of a place, the decision as to which of them were the eventual 4 finalists was no easy task. The four Grand Finalists were judged across the table by the three judges, all four cats behaved purrfectly but one was that little more composed and confident and the final vote went deservedly, to Cath Jackson’s Lucinda. With the sheer volume of prizes it was a good job that Cath’s husband drives a people carrier!  

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The Final ran smoothly and all qualifiers and Finalists seemed happy with their spoils. Hopefully having seen the sheer volume of prizes more people will now be encouraged to enter and have a go at being there next year. The whole competition could not, of course, have existed without the most generous support of the sponsors and the NWCC who have backed us from the outset. In fact, several months before we launched the Stakes, and at the time it was first discovered that Whiskas were to “pull the plug”  it was Lesley Muffit who asked why we didn’t try to come up with something,  along the lines of “well if you can’t……”. The rest, as they say, is history. We are most grateful to Lesley for her support, and for not only offering the Classes free to the qualifiers but also providing the rosettes. 
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We would also like to give our most grateful thanks to the following Heat and Final sponsors, without whom the competition would not have happened:- 

Heat sponsors:- Techni-Cal/AJM, Bio-Catolet/Midas, Smylee Pets, Our Cats. 

Final Sponsors;:- Techni-Cal/AJM, Bio-Catolet/Midas, Smylee Pets, Our Cats, cat World, Kalven, Alan Robinson, SRPCC, NWCC, Country Artists, Pets at Home, Bella Penning (for providing the 4 Finalists pens, drapes kindly made and donated by show manager, Lesley Muffit).  

We would also like to thank R & L Pet Products for supplying the litter until April and to give a special  mention to Bio-Catolet for not only coming aboard for the 2003/2004 season but also for filling the gap left by R & L from April to July and for the Final. On this subject, if anyone has any Yesterdays News vouchers from NNPS heats at shows that they have been unable to redeem please contact us at nnps@srpcc.co.uk or on 01772 321869 to arrange a suitable show at which we can meet to hand over their Bio-Catolet. 

So, first year over, first overall winner celebrating, second year well under way, the future looks bright for the Stakes. But at the end of the day it not only relies upon the sponsors, it also relies upon entries so come on all you non-pedigree exhibitors within range of a show offering the Stakes Classes – get entering! Who knows, next September it could be your cat who goes home laden with prizes.