A PEDIGREE performance at Crufts led to a Sheffield woman being crowned national show handler of the year.
Ella Armstrong, aged 18, of Worrall, won the final at the world-famous dog show with her six-year-old whippet, Wilf.
Wilf also came second in the ‘obedience’ final at the show.
Ella, who is studying A-Levels at Silverdale School, got through to the handling final last year after winning the qualifying class, but was unplaced on that occasion.
Now, with another year of practice, she helped show Wilf at his best to impress the judges.
The show handler final is aimed at competitors aged six to 24 – and the Kennel Club can now apply for Ella to represent the UK at The World Dog Show in Austria in May.
Ella, who fought off competition from about 200 handlers to reach the final, IS delighted at her success.
She said: “I got down to the last 12 last year and used the experience I gained then and advice I was given to help me this time. Handling is all about showing your dog at its best, with the aim for the handler to be almost invisible, so it is just your dog on show looking its absolute best.”
So experienced is Ella at handling, through competing at shows since she was a child, she is now a trainer herself for the Young Kennel Club, where she passes on tips and advice to others wanting to follow in her footsteps.
She said she first started showing her mum’s pet dachshund, Charlie, in local shows and competitions.
Ella said: “I went to dog training classes with Charlie and showed him in local competitions, but he was quite naughty so we didn’t win much, but I loved it so much I continued with my own dog Wilf, who I have had since he was a puppy.
“He surprised a lot of people when he came second in the obedience final, because whippets are naturally quite naughty and ignorant.”
Ella hopes to work as an equine physiotherapist in the future.
n A dog owner from Sheffield was ‘elated’ after her English Setter picked up the prize for the best puppy dog in his breed on his first Crufts appearance.
Linda Marsden, 68, from Bradway, won with 13-month-old Harry, whose show name is Upperwood In The Groove.
She said: “It’s fabulous, a really big achievement.”