Moira man Albert Ritchie enjoyed success at Crufts recently, when his dog won Best in Breed and went on to claim second in the Hound group at the prestigious dog show.
Albert co-owns and co-shows his Whippets with his granddaughter, 14-year-old Danielle Ritchie-Smith.
The pair brought two whippets to the world’s largest dog show earlier this month, Demerlay Armabay Billie Jean - pet name Gina - an Irish Champion - and Oakbark My Miracle for Gwendariff - pet name Jodie - a Celtic winner at the Championship show in Dublin recently.
Whilst Jodie finished in the final seven dogs in her class out of 24, it was Demerlay Armabay Billie Jean, or Gina, as she’s referred to, who brought great success for the local family.
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. “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 well over the years, but this is the biggest win.
“There were between 21-29,000 dogs at Crufts and we finished up basically in the last 14. This is what dreams are made of,” Albert concluded.
Albert added: “I had a great reception, there were at least 500-600 people around the ring. I had to do interviews and people were looking to speak to me, I wasn’t one bit nervous, but the biggest nerves I had - I was shaking like a leaf - was when I received the Championship certificate.
“There haven’t been that many winners with whippets over the years, so for a wee guy from Moira, Northern Ireland to be second in the hound group is amazing.”