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Ace Agility in Glemsford celebrates record achievement as junior trainers qualify for every category at 2022 Crufts dog show



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Excitement is running high at a Suffolk canine training school, as its junior trainers celebrate record qualification success ahead of the world’s largest dog show.

For the first time, Ace Agility in Glemsford will be represented in every category at this year’s edition of Crufts, which is held over four days in March.

Five young trainers will lead 12 dogs in seven different competitions, after overcoming the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and, in some cases, difficult personal circumstances to make the grade at qualifying events.

Ace Agility owner Jacqui Wood and the junior trainers with their dogs. Jacqui with Angel, Caleb, Harvey and Lewis. Picture: Mark Westley
Ace Agility owner Jacqui Wood and the junior trainers with their dogs. Jacqui with Angel, Caleb, Harvey and Lewis. Picture: Mark Westley

The youngest – 12-year-old Lewis Garstang – took over the training of rescue dog Rosie from his dad Steve, who died in a road traffic collision in May 2018 aged 55.

He qualified with Rosie for agility dog of the year, and his mum Lynette’s dog Teasel in the under-18s jumping category, and he will also collect the Young Person of the Year Award, run by the Young Kennel Club, during the event.

Jacqui Wood, who runs Ace Agility in Shepherds Lane, told Suffolk News: “It’s hard to explain the emotions that go into this.

Lewis Garstang. Picture: Mark Westley
Lewis Garstang. Picture: Mark Westley

“I just love seeing the kids enjoying the relationships they have with the dogs. There’s a huge amount of gratification seeing the children build up those relationships.

“Lewis has been training for the last four years. After his dad was killed in a lorry accident, he started training his dad’s dog, so that has been a very emotional thing for him.

“It’s a bit of escapism for them. Covid has meant we have had to meet one-to-one, but from a training point of view, it has helped the children.

A record five junior trainers at Ace Agility in Glemsford have qualified for the 2022 Crufts dog show. Picture: Mark Westley
A record five junior trainers at Ace Agility in Glemsford have qualified for the 2022 Crufts dog show. Picture: Mark Westley

“Even as their school life has been disrupted, they’ve been able to keep doing something quite normal in their extracurricular lives.”

Jacqui’s daughter Kelsey, a veteran of Crufts, will be entering for the last time as a junior trainer, leading her Shetland sheepdog Ace in three categories – small ABC (anything but collie) agility, small 18-24 agility and small 18-24 jumping.

The 24-year-old, who commutes from London to carry out her training, has also qualified with her mum’s dogs Ping and JJ in the intermediate 18-24 jumping category, while JJ is also competing in intermediate 18-24 agility.

Angel Eley. Picture: Mark Westley
Angel Eley. Picture: Mark Westley

Meanwhile, Angel Eley is celebrating after qualifying in almost every category with various canines, whilst simultaneously completing her GCSEs.

The 16-year-old is leading her dog Zip in graduate agility and agility dog of the year, as well as the intermiediate pairs contest with first-time Crufts qualifier Harvey Sutton, aged 18, and his nan’s dog Peggy.

Angel is also competing with Panda in under-18s jumping and large pairs, Dex in medium ABC and medium under-18s jumping, Ace in small under-18s jumping, and Ping in intermediate jumping.

Harvey Sutton. Picture: Mark Westley
Harvey Sutton. Picture: Mark Westley

She will be partnered in pairs categories by 16-year-old Caleb Crane, who qualified with Ted and Quiz, respectively.

Caleb, who has battled through chronic fatigue syndrome during qualification, will also enter with Quiz in the medium ABC competition, and his dog Jess in the intermediate ABC category.

His mum, Hazel Crane, said: “I am extremely proud that he has kept going, despite any barriers put in front of him.

Caleb Crane. Picture: Mark Westley
Caleb Crane. Picture: Mark Westley

“All the parents, grandparents, friends and club members are so supportive, and we are so excited to be going to Crufts again.

“These young handlers have worked hard all year to not only train their own dogs, but all their borrowed dogs, for the biggest dog show in the world.

“This amazing achievement has been done during a pandemic, when dog shows have been limited and the qualification is so much harder.”

Crufts 2022 takes place from March 10 to March 13.