Two schoolgirls will be battling it out with the world’s top dog trainers over the next two days as they take part in Crufts in Birmingham.
Hester Cowley, 14, from Orchard Way, Glemsford, and Chloe Crane, 11, from St Bartholomews Lane, Sudbury, have both qualified for the prestigious event.
The pair train at Ace Agility in Glemsford under the stewardship of Jacqui Wood, who will be going along to support them.
While Stour Valley Community School pupil Hester has qualified before, it will be Ormiston Sudbury Academy pupil Chloe’s first time, having only started two years ago.
She will be competing with labrador-collie cross Jess. The pair first started attending sessions due to Jess being rather boisterous when she was rehomed with the Crane family as a puppy.
As well as helping turn Jess into a well-trained dog, Chloe instantly took to the sport and has raced through the ranks, now competing in grade four competitions.
Thanks to her success, she accrued enough ranking points to qualify for the Young Kennel Club (YKC) large ABC agility, which takes place tomorrow.
“What Chloe has done in her time is incredible,” said mum Hazel. “Especially as she has had to build up that bond with Jess as we didn’t have her from birth.”
“Both us mums are as proud as punch. Hester is such a lovely girl, so polite and so focused.”
Hester will be taking part today in the YKC Agility Dog of the Year semi-finals for over 12s, having taken part in competitions since the age of seven.
She will be competing with her six-year-old border-terrier cross border-collie Avon.
Hester’s parents, Jenny and Simon, said they wanted the girls to enjoy the experience and be proud.
“If they manage to qualify from the semi-final heats to get to compete in the main arena, that would be the cherry on the top,” added Jenny.
The pair both train outdoors at the Glemsford centre with Jacqui.
“This woman is remarkable,” said Hazel in tribute. “She stands outside in all weathers and at all times of the year.
“The two girls wouldn’t be where they are without her – she is unique.”
“It’s going to be a difficult and different experience for them, so I just hope they enjoy themselves.”
It will be Chloe and Jess’s first experience in an indoor arena, so there are no guarantees how they will react.
“The first challenge will just be to stay in the ring,” said Hazel.