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Where old meets young...

When the FCI announced that it would be adding a new Agility World Championship competition in 2024 for older handlers to their calendar of prestigious events, Jackie Gardner instantly knew that she wanted to be involved. The new event the Senior Open Agility World Championships (SOAWC), based on a similar format to Junior Open Agility World Championships, is open to handlers over the age of 55 and split into two age categories: 55 to 65 and 66 plus. It is being held in Sentower Park, Belgium, alongside the JOAWC.  Jackie got her wish and is now GB SOAWC Team Manager.

Kennel Club Announces First Senior Agility Team GB

The Kennel Club has announced its support of the first, and recently-selected, Senior Agility Team GB set to compete at the Senior Agility Open World Championships, taking place from 18th to 21st July 2024 in Opglabbeek, Belgium.

The successful handlers were selected after a try-out event held on 28th April at Dog Sports Derby, team sponsor, which was open to handlers aged 55 and over.

Team Manager Jackie Gardner commented, 'I would like to thank everyone who attended the Team GB Senior Open Agility World Championship try-out day. Everyone made the day extremely enjoyable and set such a high standard of competition. We had a tough job selecting the team, but Paul Sensky, Susannah Chalmers and myself have all come to an agreement and we feel that we have a very good team and are so excited for the event in Belgium.

'Partnerships were firstly selected on whether they had the skill sets required and the fantastic courses set by our judge Tom Flynn really tested those skills. We then looked at whether they could meet the MPS (metres per second) set and how they manage only having a limited time course walking.'

Teams have been selected across dog height categories: Small, Medium, Intermediate and Large, across two different age categories, 55-65 years and 66+ years.

Small

Age category 55-65 years old

  • Jason Smawfield-Huby with Cotton Candy Sunshine AW/D (Hope)

  • John Clayton with Pacolito Take Two (Elsie)

  • Lee Harfield with Devongem Rewrite the Stars (Fun)

  • Marc Wingate-Wynne with Obay Thatz Entertainment (Snazzy)

  • Reserve Jason Smawfield-Huby with Lillynn Copper Eclipse AW/G (Khloe)

    Age category 66+ years old

  • Alan Bray with Ag.Ch. Devongem Fire Starter at Upanovatiger (Ticita)

  • Aljeana Baddley with Skymara Rockin Robin (Tilly)

  • Jayne Wilkinson with Adrival Just William (Billy)

  • Marilyn Adams with Obay Thatz The Truth (Ziji)

  • Reserve - Christine Hicks with Devongem Double Decker (Decker)

Medium

    Age category 55-65 years old

  • Ande Smith with Bramleycott Charleston (Gertie)

  • Laura Mackay with Weslo Lucy Vamoosey AW/P (Lucy)

  • Stephanie Wilson-Astbury with Agil a Tees Four Fun (Four)

  • Sue Midgley with Licosateria Tangerina (Zephyra)

  • Reserve - Christine Wingate-Wynne with Devongem Shes High on Life (Verdi)

  • Reserve Jacqui Wood with Licosateria Bi Onic (Quiz)

    Age category 66+ years old

  • Bellann Hollingbury with Licosateria Sevile Sunrise (Finlay)

  • Bill Chaffe with Denizon Doris (Doris)

  • Christine Hicks with Kenynten Overtime (Bramble)

  • Peter Schofield with Tickle My Tum AW/G (Lola)

Intermediate

    Age category 55-65 years old

  • Alan Wildman with Ag.Ch. Chikaramor Kynda Amazyng (Zyng)

  • Ande Smith with Mr Jonty Foxtrot (Jonty)

  • Julie Dowle with Tanqaru Page Three Girl (Titserlina)

  • Steve Seale with Devongem Try Fleck (Flec)

    Age category 66+ years old

  • Alan Flynn with It's All About Star (Star)

  • Alayne Lamerton with Fandabidozi Star Light (Dust)

  • Fran Walton with Freyasway Tobermory Meg (Megalina)

  • Pauline Weston with Bobby Blue of Ainmhithe (Bobby)

Large

    Age category 55-65 years old

  • Anne Murray with Wing And A Prayer With Jinx (Jinx)

  • Jenny Barr with Darleyfalls New Year Dancer (Darcy)

  • Karen Marriott with Comebyanaway Guess What (Clue)

  • Michael Harrison with Gaia Beck Beauty AW/D (Gaia)

  • Reserve - Steve Seale with Devongem Be Ballistic (Be B)

     Age category 66+ years old

  • Alan Bray with Ag.Ch. Devongem Blade Runner at Upanovatiger (Ticket)

  • Alayne Lamerton with Fandabidozi Arise Sir Wish (Swish)

  • Kate Fowler with Vogelaar Dunn And Dusted AW/S (Promise)

  • Trevor Shelswell with Clatterhack What the Fluke (Fluke)

  • Reserve - Carole Stapley with Gaunyersel My Remedy Star AW/B (Remedy)

The Kennel Club congratulates all the handlers who have been selected to represent the first cohort of Senior Agility Team GB this year. In addition to being supported by The Kennel Club, the team is also kindly supported by Dog Sports Derby, Galican UK, Agility Plaza, Norton Rosettes, Paws Trading and Crystal Vision.

Further information on the Senior Agility World Championships is available at: https://soawc2024agility.be/

Photos: Lisa Harvey / Pawsoffthefloor Photography


How it Started

As soon as I heard about this event, I contacted the Kennel Club to ask if GB could send a team as only teams authorised by their own country's kennel clubs are allowed to enter. On a personal level, I was excited about this competition as I have a very good young dog, and I wanted the opportunity to compete on the world stage once again so I assumed that others would feel the same way.

But first, I needed to prove to our Kennel Club that the Seniors event was something the Agility community would support, so I decided to do a survey. 

I was not prepared for the number of responses I received which was over 500. I was blown away by the response. And I then had to collate all the information and send it to the KC. The application had to go through various committees at the KC, but finally it was agreed that it could go ahead on the basis that the team was totally self-funding.

Of course, the new Team would need a manager as unfortunately the Agility Team GB Manager already had a full schedule and could not take any more involvement with this new team. I said that If no one else wanted to do it, I would be happy to manage the team as I really wanted this event to happen, so here I am, ta dah... the new GB SOAWC Team Manager. My only disappointment is that being team manager means I can't compete with my own dog in this competition, but I will get great pleasure from building a team and helping them succeed.

There is an awful lot to organise in what seems like such little time to do it.

My first official job was to organise a tryout competition which takes place on the 28th April at Dog Sports Derby Venue. At the tryouts, the competitors will be vying for the overall 'win on spots' i.e. combined results of the Jumping & Agility rounds, of which eight are available. Any breed can enter as long as they are G4 or above and do not have a cropped or docked tail.

Win On Spots

  • Overall Winner of the 55 to 65 Small Dog Category

  • Overall Winner of the 55 to 65 Medium Dog Category

  • Overall Winner of the 55 to 65 Intermediate Dog Category

  • Overall Winner of the 55 to 65 Large Dog Category
     

  • Overall Winner of the 66+ Small Dog Category

  • Overall Winner of the 66+ Medium Dog Category

  • Overall Winner of the 66+ Intermediate Dog Category

  • Overall Winner of the 66+ Large Dog Category

Those who do not win on will need to showcase their handling skills to me and my selection team at the tryouts.

A further three dogs will be selected from each category, making a full team of 32 dogs. The full team will be announced at the beginning of May.

In addition to me as Team Manager, I will be traveling to Belgium with my Assistant Manager Susannah Chalmers and photographer Lisa Harbey of Paws Off the Floor.

The SOAWC Finals will be held in Belgium from the 18th to 21st July, and will be live-streamed for the world of agility to watch. This will be at the same venue and run, somewhat ironically, at the same time as the Junior Open Agility World Championships.

Great support from the agility community
We are so very grateful to our sponsors, without whom, this opportunity would not have been a possibility. They include:-

  • Dog Sports Derby for providing the tryout venue free of charge

  • Galican UK for allowing us to use their equipment for the tryouts

  • Agility Plaza for doing all the show processing and are supplying us with onsite support at the tryouts

  • Norton Rosettes for contributing the overall winners rosettes

  • Paws Trading Ltd for donating prizes for the overall winners

I'm still looking, however, for sponsors for the Individual class winners of which there are 16 Individual classes across all heights/age categories.

I am also looking for a sponsor for our Team Kit as this will be one of the biggest expenses that the team members will have. This will be for a maximum of 35 people, possibly less if a handlers qualifies more than one dog.

Let's build a great team
I hope everyone will support our competitors who are the bread and butter of agility. They are the ones who put on the shows, the ones who help at the shows and the ones who make agility what it is, a wonderful sport to be a part of. They are the ones who truly deserved to be recognised as Champions.

About the author...
Jackie Gardner
has been in agility for over 40 years, both as a competitor and a Judge. She has competed at all levels at all the major finals in the UK and internationally with five of her dogs and for Team GB with two of her dogs.

Jackie has judged most of the prestigious events in this country and abroad, and she is this years LIHS Judge.

First published 27th March 2024

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