It seems that these days, wherever you happen to be in the world, there is a top winning show dog whose owner is one, Victor Malzoni Jr. That might be a slight exaggeration but to those of us who live in the UK, Europe or the USA it seems that Mr Malzoni is associated with one or more of the top ranked dogs. Yet many people see Victor Malzoni merely as a name in a catalogue or advertisement. I had met him briefly on a few occasions previously, but I was fascinated to discover what actually motivated this enigmatic gentleman, who is possibly the last of the great “fanciers”, and our presence in Helsinki for the 2014 FCI World Dog Show gave me the opportunity to spend some time with him and find out a little more about his life, his hopes and his dreams.
As I expected Mr Malzoni – he actually prefers his acquaintances to address him simply as Victor – was not easy to track down. He is a very busy businessmen and his time is precious, but going through his indispensable PR Livia Krainer we were able to meet in Helsinki for a few hours.
To those who have never met him, but who may have built up a mental image of this man who finances the careers of so many show dogs in various countries, he may come as something of a surprise. He is quite happy wearing an open-necked shirt and jeans, he is quiet and self-effacing and possibly even a little shy at first.
Logically the best place to start was at the beginning. Victor was born in 1950 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from parents who owned a bank and were major exporters of that Brazilian staple, coffee. He graduated from Mackenzie University where he studied Economics.
So how did the interest in purebred dogs begin?
“My first contact with show dogs was in 1957, when my father bought a Rough Collie from a kennel in Italy. The kennel is still active today under the name Canil di Cambiano and many British Collie breeders will be familiar with Maria Teresa Garabelli, the owner of the kennel, as she has bred many beautiful Collies, some of whom distinguished themselves in Britain. Then in 1965 my brother had bought a Saint Bernard from the Saint Bernard Monastery in Switzerland. This was the first dog that we took to dog shows in 1968. My first terrier arrived in 1992, when I bought my first Wire Fox, bred in Brazil. That is when my passion for terriers began.”
I was keen to discover who it was that fostered the young Victor’s interest in dogs. It seems quite clear that this was Jaime Martinelli who was a leading Brazilian handler at the time.
“My first contact with Jaime came about because we wanted our Saint Bernard trained. Jaime’s father had trained a famous dog for television named “Duque”. After Jaime, who was a handler, saw our dog he convinced us the dog needed to be shown. He taught me all about dog shows and what I needed to know to present my Saint Bernard effectively. We have been great friends ever since; he is now well into his ‘seventies. Jaime started in German Shepherds, showing his own dogs. He later became a handler who made a big impact on Brazilian Dog Shows. Jaime brought many American ideas, handling skills and types of trimming to Brazil.”
As a young man Victor did not have a large amount of time to spend at dog shows. With his brothers, he cared for the family’s construction and development company. On a day to day basis it meant a lot of travelling, meeting with clients and constant care in order for the company to grow.
Yet all the time dog shows were in the back of Victor’s mind.
He recalls “Many times I was in Miami when I would watch the famous Westminster Kennel Club show on TV and I think that is was sparked my interest again. It was such an amazing show with always such top quality dogs being presented.”
In due course Victor established his Hampton Court kennel outside Sao Paolo. Contrary to what some may mistakenly assume there was no great British connection behind the choice of kennel name; it was merely the name of Victor’s home in Florida.
Needless to say Victor wanted nothing but the best for his dogs and he set about designing and building a state-of-the-art purpose-built kennel. This was done in association with Antonio Porcari, Victor’s long term employee, and the dream kennel was constructed on Victor’s farm in Itatiba, outside Sao Paolo.
“I began with a few Cairns that I had bought from my good friend Anna Claudia Torrealvo – Canil Astoria Bay, here in Brazil. I knew I wanted to start a breeding programme and hired Dedè who worked for Ana Claudia as my first handler. Afterwards I began attending more shows, I met Max and Livia Krainer who helped me acquire my first Bedlingtons. Then came Mario Duarte and Jerson Vale who peaked my interest in other terriers. After that, I began to breed more and hire more handlers, including Divonney Rasera and Daniel and Silvia Beloff. Then after meeting Leonardo Bustamante he became my kennel manager at Hampton Court, and he is still with me today. Leonardo started working for me in 2009. He had apprenticed many years under great handlers such as Flavio Werneck and Daniel Beloff. Leo takes care of my kennel, whelping litters, raising puppies and training young dogs. He is responsible for finishing national championships on most of my homebred dogs. ”
I asked Victor what first attracted him to the Cairn Terrier as a breed.
“I think are very fun and cute. They have such active personalities and yet make great house dogs. They are so goofy, I just fell in love with the breed. I could never imagine being without a Cairn and always have a few living with me indoors – I have three with me in my apartment at all times – but as a breed they are not perceived to be big winners.”
When Anna Claudia Torrealvo decided to finish showing and breeding, Victor took over all her Cairns and Wires. By then he had the kennel facility to do so, his kennels easily accommodating 60 or more dogs. He began breeding Cairns and Wires in a modest way.
His first big winner came when, with the help of well-known American handler Gabriel Rangel who he had now met, he bought the Smooth Fox Terrier, High River Mountain Run.
“With the help of Gabriel Rangel in 2006 I was looking for a really good dog to campaign in Brazil. Gabriel knew River’s breeder for many years before, and he had seen River at the shows in the US and liked him a lot. He came to me and won the America and Caribes Show in Uruguay. He was my first really big winner as the Cairns and Wires I were producing were slowly being built up but I hadn’t at the time produced anything spectacular.”
Then began Victor’s journey in Wires, which has been a remarkable one.
“One of my earliest winning Wires was Buster – UK Ch Tamedale Orinoco – who was a UK and Brazilian champion, Panamerican and International Çhampion . He became the winner of 33 Bests in Show in Brazil, and was Number One All Breeds of the Imported Dogs in Brazil. Then there was Arepa – Sanherpinc Arena who was an American and Brazilian champion, Panamerican and International Champion, winner of 38 BIS in Brazil and won Third Place at one of the early Eukanuba World Challenges.”
Victor had established contact with several British breeders, one of which was Bill Browne-Cole who has become a close friend over the years. Victor’s first Travella import was Stage Star. Valken Violet was a bitch who was bought from the Westwood family who produced well. His next significant Travella was Star Lord who had won the group at Crufts in 2011 before he went to South America where he continued his successes being handled by Rasera. He was Number One All Breeds in Argentina in 2011, picked up 53 BISs, won the Group at the World Dog Show in Budapest, going on to Third BIS.
However Victor was by now beginning to produce noteworthy homebred stock and his Hampton Court’s Monte Cristo was Number One National Bred Dog in Brazil in 2013, having achieved his American, Brazilian , Panamerican and International championships.
Victor had first met Gabriel Rangel in 2004 at the Westminster Kennel Club show on New York. “He was back at the set ups grooming the Sealyham terrier, “Ben” Ch Stonebroke Right On The Money. Gabriel noticed I was standing close looking at him working on the dog. I told Gabriel I was from Brazil, was a Cairn Terrier breeder and I admired how he worked. I told him I had hoped that someday he could show a Cairn for me. Then a few years later that Gabriel showed the first Cairn for me!”
A few years later Gabriel introduced Victor to Diane Ryan who had a Wire bitch that Gabriel clearly rated and who was being campaigned by Torie Steele. Gabriel had agreed to handle Wires exclusively for Torie for a year but an association developed and Victor became co-owner of the famous Afterall Painting in the Sky.
“She was a really beautiful bitch, Number One All Breeds in 2013 in the USA, won an incredible 128 Bests in Show and was a World, French and American Champion. She was the 2012 AKC/Eukanuba National championship BIS winner, 2012 the NATIONAL dog show best in show Champion – Philadelphia KC, 2012 Great Western Terrier Association BIS winner, 2013 International Kennel club of Chicago BIS winner, 2013 Montgomery County Kennel Club BIS winner.” She has subsequently been mated to Star Lord.
Then of course we come to the famous Wire rivals of the moment in the UK – Oliver and King. At Crufts 2014 Open Dog in Wires pulled a packed ringside to see which of these two much admired dogs would win the day under Alan Davies. Ultimately it was King who won – Ch King Arthur van Foliny Home – bred in the Netherlands by owners Rony and Dieny Munter and handled by young Welshman Warren Bradley. Richard Allen had to play bridesmaid that day with Oliver – Ch Travella Striking Steel – then still in the ownership of Sue Browne Cole. As is typical of the dog world, rumours were flying around as to who had bought what and where they were going but as time went on Victor bought both males. King of course went on to win the group at Crufts and later in the year at the World Dog Show in Helsinki. Oliver ended 2014 as the Top Dog of All Breeds in the UK.
“Gabriel had told me about King and so I telephoned Rony and asked him what his plans were for the dog. He wanted him to stay with Warren until at least after the European show in Czechia. I had already agreed to buy Oliver with a view to bringing him to Brazil but Bill wanted him to stay in the UK for some time as he was on something of a winning roll. Ultimately King will go to Gabriel to be campaigned in the US whilst Oliver will as planned come to Brazil.”
It is highly likely that when Oliver does arrive in Brazil he will do so as the winner of more all-breed BISs in the UK than any other dog in history.
Whilst Sky was Number One All Breeds in the USA for 2013, the previous year Victor had also owned the Number One dog in the German Wirehaired Pointer, Brazilian & GCh Mountain View Ripsnorters Silver Charm. He was also a Westminster group winner and won the GWPCA National three times.
Then were other big winning Terriers. Another that came from Rony and Dieny was World, French & American Ch Iron von Foliny Home, who won the National Specialty, BIS at the legendary Montgomery show under Paolo Dondina and who was handled by Gabriel Rangel to take G2 at Crufts in 2013.
We should not however neglect Victor’s first love, the Cairns. Of special note is the homebred bitch, Hampton Court’s Ashley who was the top winning Cairn bitch in the USA for 2009, 2010 and 2011, and who topped the breed at Westminster in 2011.
Victor points out with justifiable pride “She was the 2010 National Roving Specialty Winner in the US and is the winner of multiple BIS, multiple BISS, and is an American grand Champion, Brazilian, Panamerican and International Champion.”
Another Cairn of whom Victor is immensely proud is the top winning Cairn in Sweden for 2012, Hjohoo’s Save Hjour Love For Me, who was the Number One Cairn in the USA for 2013 and at the time of writing 2014. This is another dog with an incredible string of titles – 2013 World Champion & Group 2, 2013 Interra Dog Show Best in Show Winner,
International Beauty Champion, American Champion, Swedish Champion, Norwegian Champion, Netherlands Champion, Italian Champion, Romanian Champion, European Winner 2012, Junior European Winner 2011, BOB European Winner 2011, Interra Winner 2012, Bucharest Winner 2012, Swedish Winner 2012, Norwegian Winner 2012.
We should not forget Hjohoo’s Just The Way Hjo Are who is an American, Swedish, Netherlands and Slovenian Champion and won BOB at the World Show in 2012 as as well as countless Specialty BISs and BOB at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and Montgomery in 2011.
There have also been involvements with Skye and Irish Terriers and presently Larry Cornelius and Marcelo Veras are successfully campaigning the Skye, Am Ch Cragsmoor Good Time Charlie in the USA for Victor. (Since the DOG WORLD ANNUAL went to print Charlie has won BIS at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship show, repeating Sky’s win of a few years earlier.)
Victor points out “I have been lucky enough to be included in some great dogs’ careers because sometimes a handler comes to me with a great opportunity. Because of this, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded and included with great some great breeders.”
Victor has used many different professional handlers – so what does he require of a handler and what makes a relationship with a handler really work for him?
“I have used many different handlers because every dog under each specific circumstance is different. Whether it is because of the breed or a co-owner’s wishes, I have strived to make the right decision for each specific dog.”
In Victor’s position he must be approached by various people to back dogs’ campaigns. On what is his decision to do so based? Is he guided by handlers, judges or whom?
Victor seems quite clear on this, “The first thing is, I have to like the breed, whether it is to breed them or not. Second, it has to be a quality dog. Of course, I have handlers, friends and judges that I trust and ask their advice. But, as the years go on I am feeling more confident in my own judgement and understanding breeds to decide on my own. Now most importantly I want to show the dogs that I am breeding. In the beginning of course I had to back more dogs however, now I hope to always prioritise to my Hampton Court dogs.”
In recent years Victor has travelled extensively to dog shows around the world – which shows have particularly impressed him and why?
“Every year I look forward to attending Westminster, Crufts, the World Dog Show, Eukanuba and Montgomery. They are all so different but every one of them is fantastic! Each one has their own specific air every year and that is why I always attend all of them.”
Along the way Victor has also owned Welsh and Norwich; “I tried to breed Norwich but they are notoriously difficult to breed so I decided to concentrate on my other loves.”
When we were speaking in Helsinki it fascinated me that the win of Best Junior Male by Victor’s Cairn at the World Dog Show obviously gave him as much pleasure as his Number One all breeds successes in the USA, his delight was obvious and refreshing.
With his name on so many dogs I wondered what happened to these dogs when they had finished their show careers.
“Some dogs live in my homes in Miami and Sao Paulo. Some retire to the kennel with Leo. Others live with Max and Livia. We also have many that return to the breeders or co-owners. I always try my hardest to make sure they live out their lives comfortably. At heart I am as big a dog lover as anyone else with the same passion. What better could I be doing with my money?” Victor quips. “I am learning all the time and I have made so many wonderful friends through the sport of purebred dogs all around the world.”
Victor had intimated earlier on in our conversation that he had no desire to ever become I judge. I wondered why.
“I just have never had the desire to become a judge because of the responsibility that comes with any decision a judge makes. I am at heart a breeder and the fact that in 2013 I was the Number One Breeder in Brazil gave me enormous pleasure.”
Victor Malzoni has had a great influence on the present day dog world as the owner of many stellar terriers who have won major awards around the world, yet he is resolute as to how he wishes to be remembered. With typical modesty and candour he says, “I hope in years to come I will be remembered as the gentleman from Brazil who bred great dogs, not just the gentleman from Brazil who bought great dogs.”
Andrew Brace is FACE TO FACE with VICTOR MALZONI
(reproduced from the 2015 DOG WORLD ANNUAL)