Duo take a lead role in Crufts’ contest

Dynamic duo Rebecca Ashworth and her spaniel Jake are jumping for joy after wowing audiences at the world’s largest dog show.

The pair were the star attraction in the Young Kennel Club’s Senior Agility class at Crufts last week, taking a full second’s lead ahead of the rest of the pack.

But the trophy was snatched away when judges ruled that Jake had not touched a white marker at the end of an obstacle and they were relegated to sixth place.

Video replays, however, suggested that the three-year-old cocker spaniel did make the required contact.

And while it made no difference to the result, Miss Ashworth was delighted with Jake’s performance.

“It was just one of those things,” she said.

Rebecca Ashworth with her agility dog Jake.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Rebecca Ashworth with her agility dog Jake.'Picture by Jane Coltman

“The judges’ decision is always final, but a replay of the video means we are pretty sure Jake did actually hit the markers. However, he goes so quickly it’s difficult to rule even on the video. I have done a judging course myself so I know how difficult it is.

“The main thing is that Jake was fantastic. Some dogs can get stressed with the occasion, but he wasn’t the least bit bothered. Coming away with a Crufts’ rosette is a huge achievement for such a young dog, especially since we’ve only been competing properly for just over a year.”

Miss Ashworth, who lives in Widdrington and runs Sit Stay Capture dog photography business, as well as agility classes, is no stranger to Crufts having competed every year since 2011, and taking fourth place in agility with Jake’s dad Rusty in 2012.

This year the show was rocked by allegations of poisoning after the death of an Irish Setter, but the young trainer has not been put off.

Crufts is the greatest dog show on earth and it’s a privilege to be able to attend, let alone get placed.

Rebecca Ashworth

“There were 21,000 dogs competing this year and this is one case, and even then we have to wait for the reports to come back. It hasn’t put me off at all,” she said.

“People criticise Crufts because of the breed shows, but 99 per cent of the dogs are happy, healthy, normal pets. The breed shows are also just a small part of it. Crufts gives a platform to agility, rescue dogs and all kinds of things. If we lose it because of what a small minority think, it would be a real shame.”