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Twinstead dog trainer describes ‘huge honour’ after qualifying to represent Team GB at first Senior Open Agility World Championships





A veteran canine trainer from Suffolk has described the honour and privilege of representing her country on the world stage, in the first ever competition of its kind.

Jacqui Wood has qualified to represent Great Britain at next month’s inaugural Senior Open Agility World Championships (SOAWC) – a tournament designed for older-age dog handlers.

Taking place at Sentower Park in Belgium, from July 18 to 21, the event will feature representatives from 31 different countries, with 1,149 dogs competing.

Trainer Jacqui Wood and her dog Quiz will represent Team GB next month. Picture: Mark Westley
Trainer Jacqui Wood and her dog Quiz will represent Team GB next month. Picture: Mark Westley

Jacqui, who runs Ace Agility training school, in Twinstead, will be competing in the medium pairs category, in the 55-65 age bracket, with her 10-year-old Shetland sheepdog Quiz.

With more than 35 years of experience as a dog behaviourist and agility trainer, Jacqui has helped many others qualify for competitions in the past.

These include training numerous junior handlers to reach major events such as Crufts, as well as helping a disabled client to qualify for the Paragility World Championships.

This time, however, she said the opportunity to compete herself and represent Team GB was ‘something you always dream of’.

“It’s super exciting,” Jacqui said. “I’m counting down the days until it begins.

“I was very emotional when I qualified. I took three dogs to the trials and the one that ended up qualifying was not the one I expected.

“I’ve been doing agility training for 38 years, I’ve trained champions and helped a lot of kids get to Crufts, but I went for this one, in particular, because it’s for older handlers.

“This competition is new, so that brings in the emotions, because it’s the first time it has been done.

“To be selected to represent your country is a huge honour and it means a lot because all my hard work has paid off. It’s a real privilege.”

Jacqui also paid tribute to her own trainer in Essex and the sponsorship of Robert Lees, at Linkswood Vets, and Daniel Piper, at Suffolk Chiropractic Services.

Having been based in Glemsford for many years, she now continues to run Ace Agility out of Cobb’s Farm, Twinstead.

Ace Agility spokesperson Hazel Crane added: “Jacqui has trained a number of junior handlers who have represented Great Britain in the Open Junior Agility Championships and returned home with medals.

“Her other amazing results were producing junior handlers that not only qualified for Crufts, but won placings, returning with rosettes and trophies, too.

“She spends so much of her time training world champions and Crufts winners that she rarely considers doing trials herself.

“This time, she did, as this is the first time this competition is happening.

“When Jacqui informed the club she had attended trials for SOAWC and qualified, everyone at Ace Agility was delighted and as proud as punch.

“The club is so proud and pleased. We cannot wait to see her represent her country in Belgium.”