Crufts 2023: Mum 'unbelievably proud' as 9-year-old Chesterfield girl and her Labrador best at Junior Handling

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A nine-year-old girl from Chesterfield and her 16-month-old Labrador have won Junior Handling at Crufts.

At the weekend thousands of dog lovers attended Crufts - the biggest international dog show held annually in the United Kingdom for over a hundred years.

Trainers and their four-legged friends were competing in the NEC Birmingham in several different categories depending on the dog’s breed and the trainer’s age.

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Eliza Darwesh, who attends Hollingwood Primary School, and her Labrador, Merlin, were winners of Junior Handling open for young trainers aged between six and eleven years old and their gundogs.

Eliza Darwesh, 9, from Chesterfield and her 16-month-old Labrador Merlin were winners of the Junior Handling open for young trainers and their gundogs at Crufts 2023.Eliza Darwesh, 9, from Chesterfield and her 16-month-old Labrador Merlin were winners of the Junior Handling open for young trainers and their gundogs at Crufts 2023.
Eliza Darwesh, 9, from Chesterfield and her 16-month-old Labrador Merlin were winners of the Junior Handling open for young trainers and their gundogs at Crufts 2023.

Joanne Darwesh, 51, Eliza’s mum, said: “Eliza is just nine and Merlin is only 16 months old which is just crazy. She has only been training dogs for about one year now. I told her to be happy she has made it to Crufts and she should enjoy it as it’s her first year there. And than she won. I’m unbelievably proud of her.

“She’s been working very hard and going to shows almost every weekend. She listened to the advice of all the experts in the field and kept learning.”

Joanne, who is a licenced breeder under Chesterfield Borough Council and has four Labradors and a mini dachshund, added: “Eliza started with her tiny dachshund and soon switched dogs to our Labrador Retriever. It was quite a change from a little dog that is four kilos to a very strong Labrador.

“She absolutely loves her new hobby and MErlin adores her and looks up to her. They work really well together as a team. And In the new year they qualified for Crufts 2024, which is amazing.”

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