Banbridge girl Danielle Ritchie-Smith enjoyed success at Crufts recently, when her dog won Best in Breed and went on to claim second in the Hound group at the prestigious dog show.
Danielle, a pupil at Banbridge Academy, co-owns and co-shows her Whippets with her grandfather, Moira man Albert Ritchie.
The 14-year-old also led another dog to success in Dublin just before St Patrick’s Day, when she and her whippet Oakbark My Miracle for Gwendariff - pet name Jodie - was a Celtic winner at the Championship show, winning Best of Breed and finishing first in the Hound group.
Danielle and her grandfather Albert travelled to Birmingham to take part in the world’s largest dog show, showing Jodie, who finished in the final seven dogs in her class out of 24, and Demerlay Armabay Billie Jean - pet name Gina - an Irish Champion who brought great success for the local family.
Meanwhile, Danielle also won ‘Best Puppy in Breed’ and ‘Best Puppy Bitch’ with 11 month old Irish Setter Cilla (Gwendariff Carries It Off), after winning the Puppy Class, adding to her ‘pedigree’ in showing dogs.
Speaking about their win at Crufts, Albert explained: “Gina won Best of Breed, which is the top award for that particular breed.
“There were 484 whippets entered from all over the world, America, Sweden, English champions. There were 32 whippets in her class, the Open Bitch class.
“We then went into the group with all of the Best of Breed hound winners. There were 30 hound winners in that group and she came second in the group.
“That is a big win,” Albert said. “We were beaten by a Saluki from Sweden.
“It was absolutely out of this world,” Albert added.
“It was the most fantastic experience, this has been the biggest win ever,” Albert commented. “I’ve had people congratulating me from all over the world.
“We have gotten places several times, I’ve been to Crufts many times and done very very well over the years, but this is the biggest win.
“There were between 21,000 and 29,000 dogs at Crufts and we finished up basically in the last 14, when you think there are seven groups, with the winners going into the Best in Show final, and we were second in our group.”
Speaking about Danielle’s Crufts experience, Albert said: “We both enjoyed the experience. Danielle’s very much into the dogs and enjoyed herself very much.
“Crufts is getting bigger each year with people there from all over the world.
“This is what dreams are made of,” Albert concluded.