Give teen big apaws!

Antonia Leech with Basset Fuave de Bretagne, Champion Hibeck Scooby Doo
Antonia Leech with Basset Fuave de Bretagne, Champion Hibeck Scooby Doo

A 16-year-old who made her dreams come true by winning Best of Breed at last year’s Crufts has now fulfilled an eight-year ambition to win a junior handling title.

Antonia Leech of Great Brickhill, became the youngest ever owner and also handler of the breed to make up a champion when she won a place in the Hound Group Finals in the Best In Show ring last year.

But 12 months on, the teenager, who has always been placed in the final line-up, won the YKC Working and Pastoral Handling Finals (aged 12 to 16 years) last Thursday.

Antonia, who was handling a young Dobermann, Doberway Chito Achaffa, owned by Hollie Kavanagh and June Caffel, said: “I was just so thrilled when the judge, Alex Paisey pointed at me and pulled me out first.

“I have been striving to win that coveted trophy for so long and it will take pride of place. It is only the fourth time that I have handled Chito – the last time was in November when I came third in the Junior Handling Association’s National Finals at Discover Dogs.

“It meant so much to me this time, especially when the judge said at the end of the day that I had been the best handler of the day – the competition is just so tough.”

Antonia also did well with her own three breeds; her Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Champion Hibeck Scooby Doo with Soletrader, and her Bearded Collie Jamchala Lady of Shalott (Lottie) both came third in their respective YKC Hound and Pastoral Stakes Finals, beating numerous champions.

And Antonia’s Portuguese Podengo, Arranbourne Bandeira for Jamchala (Luis) won his class, which automatically qualifies him for next year’s Crufts.

Antonia added: “What a Crufts to remember. I was absolutely exhausted, but it was just so worth it.

“It was a fantastic feeling running in and hearing all the audience cheering and clapping. I’m counting the days till next year’s Crufts.”