A Leyland woman has returned from the prestigious Kennel Club Olympia Stakes finals with her border collie in London at the weekend.
Nicola Wildman, 26, and two year-old Zest qualified in the medium dog competition.
The country’s most talented agility dogs and handlers had competed in qualifying heats at agility shows across the country in an attempt to gain a place in the finals, held from December 14 to 18 as part of the London International Horse Show.
Nicola has been competing in agility for 21 years and this was her first time in the main arena at Olympia with Zest.
After coming second in the semi-finals and fifth in the final, Nicola said: “She was second in the semi-final in the morning which meant she got through to the final in the evening and she came fifth in the second fastest time.
“I’m really, really pleased with that considering she’s only done full agility courses for seven months. Next time she will have to qualify for the senior.”
Nicola said she thoroughly enjoyed the whole occasion.
“It was really, really good, there were big crowds and the dogs feed off it,” she said.
Zest qualified in the heats this year and went on to get the fastest time in the quarter finals. Zest’s Kennel Club name is Devongem Freekin Awesome.
Nicola, who runs her own agility club Wild Paws Agility and is also a member of Wyre (Lancs) Agility Club who train at Myerscough College, got Zest at eight weeks old from Devon.
Alongside her agility training, Nicola works at Joseph Boniface Architects Ltd, Blackpool, as an architectural assistant.
Nicola said: “With one of my parents’ dogs I have previously been on Team GB and competed at Crufts many times. My dad also competed in agility very successfully and is the chairman of Wyre Agility Club.
“Zest is a border collie who loves life to the max. She is a crazy, quirky dog who loves nothing more than chasing a squirrel or doing agility.
“She has been a challenging dog and in her days as a puppy I wasn’t ever sure if she would get the focus to run in the ring but we worked hard and she is now a super star.
“We hope in the future to go on to run for team GB, though that is a huge goal for us.”
This is Zest’s first season of competition. This year she has won from grade three into grade six - dog agility grades run from one to seven – and also won a big novice final called the Camddwr Cup earlier this year at the Three Counties showground.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary said: “Olympia is one of the highlights of the agility calendar and each year we really look forward to watching all the talented dogs and their handlers in action.”
With such an excellent atmosphere, Olympia is certainly not one to miss for any dog lover.
The judge for the 2017 Kennel Club Olympia Agility Stakes was Kennel Club championship show and agility judge, Lynne Shore.