Stoneleigh dog trainer makes squad for new sport at Crufts this year

From left: Leanne Ward, her dog Brodie and Rachel Bradley
From left: Leanne Ward, her dog Brodie and Rachel Bradley
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A member of a new dog training club in Stoneleigh has been selected to represent the Midlands in a sport making its debut at Crufts this year.

Leanne Ward and her rescue lurcher Brodie belong to Stoneleigh Rally, a club which launched at Stoneleigh Park in February to offer tuition in ‘rally’, a canine sport where dogs have to navigate an obstacle course against the clock.

The duo only started rallying a year ago and yet have qualified for a team of eight representing the Midlands in a competition at the world’s largest dog show taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from Thursday March 9 to Sunday March 12.

Leanne said: “There’s no bigger stage in the dog world than Crufts. It’s going to be a fantastic experience and great fun. All eyes will be on us as rallying is a relatively new sport and has never been at Crufts before.

“Although Brodie is very smart and quite versatile as a lurcher, she isn’t the easiest of dogs which I think stems from her background of having been dumped as a puppy about six years ago.

“So when I found out that we had been selected, I was really shocked but delighted at the same time.”

Rachel Bradley is head trainer at Stoneleigh Rally and will also be part of the rally display team at Crufts, as well as scoring competitors.

She said: “We’re delighted that one of our members has been selected for the Midlands team and hope that Leanne and Brodie’s achievement will encourage others to give the sport a go.”

Brodie is a reserve dog in the Midlands squad so will only compete if one of the other dogs pulls out - but she will still train in front of the crowds and walk the courses.