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Northern Ireland canines prove to be top dogs at Crufts after scooping five prizes

By Allan Preston

Tails have been wagging all across Northern Ireland after multiple wins at the world famous Crufts competition.

At least five local competitors have now come away with first place prizes, ahead of other prize pooches from across the globe.

Last week, 16-year-old Scarlett Burnside from Saintfield came first in two categories - one with her Alaskan Malamute Ethan for own breed, junior male class and another in the international junior handling finals with a dog she had only met that day, a pointer named Babs.

Now proud owners from Banbridge, Belfast and Londonderry have added to Northern Ireland's reputation for top dogs.

Darwin Martin, a Banbridge based dog breeder co-owns three Terrier dogs - Erik, Ifor and Griff - with dog handler Paul Burke from Downpatrick.

They were stunned when Erik won first place for junior dog in the Kerry blue class. "Erik did very well," said a delighted Mr Martin. "He was the baby of the class at 10 months and only qualified to get in by a few days.

"He's a fantastic dog who has already had several best in shows in Ireland so we've high hopes for him in the future."

Erik was judged on his movement and features like his coat, colour and teeth.

Ifor also came within sniffing distance of victory after finishing third overall in the puppy section for Welsh terriers.

"The first place dog came from Canada which shows how big the competition is," explained Mr Martin.

"In all, there's about 23,000 dogs that compete at Crufts so it's quite an honour to even be placed let alone to win anything."

Also celebrating wins were Belfast's Gerry Daly and his daughter Alison - they won best puppy dog and best bitch puppy with their Kerry blue terriers Comanche Boy and Alice Be Lucky.

Harold Quigg from Londonderry also won first prize in the best bitch category with his Irish Terrier, named Maggie.

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