Young handler of the Year crowned at Crufts 2023

Morgan Tait-Shoosmith, aged 15, from Herne Bay, Kent, and Cuba (Alisiane Greatest Showman), a four-year-old Standard Poodle, won the Young Kennel Club (YKC) Handler of the Year award, sponsored by Royal Canin, at Crufts on Sunday 12 March.

The competition, which was open to YKC members from the ages of 6-24 and their dogs, saw top young handlers compete for the sought-after title of YKC Handler of the Year before Morgan and Cuba took first place in the YKC ring at the Birmingham NEC.

Proud owner Morgan said: “I’m shocked, I was shocked last year as well but getting it twice in a row is very very shocking!

“I think there was more pressure this year because I had already won it before and all of the handlers were amazing. I didn’t recognise that the judge had picked me at first, but when I did, I was just so happy that Cuba had performed so well.

“Away from the ring, Cuba is very chilled and very quiet. He does agility as well and when he gets to the agility ring, he’s completely different he is all bark, bark, bark!

“I’ve been showing dogs since I was six and started handling four years ago. My mum breeds Standard Poodles and just watching her in the ring has inspired me, as has watching other handlers.

“It is great to show at Crufts, the atmosphere is great, the crowd get the dogs going and it is just an adrenaline rush.”

To reach the Crufts final, YKC members competed in age categories: 6-11, 12-17 and 18-24 years. YKC handling qualifiers were held across the country throughout the year and the first place in each age group qualified for their respective finals at Crufts, with Cuba and Morgan taking the ultimate title of YKC Handler of the Year.

Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts Show Manager said: “A huge congratulations to Cuba and Morgan for this fantastic achievement. The pair demonstrated a high level of skill and teamwork which was exceptional for such a young handler. We are incredibly hopeful and excited to see what more the pair will achieve in the future years and Crufts to come!”

If you would like to find out more about the Young Kennel Club and how to join please contact the YKC team by emailing The YKC or visit the Young Kennel Club website.

Crufts 2023 took place at the NEC in Birmingham from the 9 - 12 March. Further information and results are available on The Crufts website.