Junior handlers from around the world get ready for prestigious Crufts 2024 final

IJH winner 2023 v4. Yulia Titovets | The Kennel Club website
IJH winner 2023. Yulia Titovets

37 top junior handlers from all around the world are set to travel to Crufts at the NEC in Birmingham to take part in one of the world’s leading junior handling competitions – the Joe Cartledge Memorial International Junior Handling competition.

On Friday 8 March 2024, the prestigious final takes place across two stages in the Resorts World Arena. Part one takes place from 8.30am-10am followed by the parade and final at 6.20pm.

The judge of the event will be Rony Doedijns from the Netherlands. Rony has been involved in the dog world for 40 years and started competing as a junior handler with his Finnish Spitz.

The final is the peak of any young person’s junior handling career, with the competitors aged between 11 and 19. Each handler will not be competing with their own dogs, however they will be provided with a breed of their choice. On the morning of the final, they will have just one hour to get to know this dog before showcasing their handling skills and breed expertise with that dog in the main arena in front of the judge.

The list of competitors and the countries they represent are:

  • Australia, Deana Musolino
  • Belgium, Laura Devos
  • Bulgaria, Samuil Bonin
  • Canada, Laurence Giguère
  • Czech Republic, Sára Malinová
  • Denmark, Sara DeAngelis
  • Estonia, Gerda Vunsh
  • Finland, Jonas Sotala
  • France, Sara Dechalou
  • Germany, Alexandra Junow
  • Greece, Eftychia Sezenia 
  • Hungary, Gréta Straub
  • Iceland, Freyja Gudmundsdottir
  • Ireland, Molly Mullan
  • Israel, Liry Sokolovsky
  • Italy, Cecilia Di Bella
  • Japan, Yuha Tamura
  • Latvia, Alise Semeta
  • Lithuania, Dija Maksimaviciute
  • Malta, Mariah Manicaro
  • Monaco, Nicol Zaza
  • Netherlands, Soleile Huikeshoven
  • New Zealand, Jacob Ashwell
  • Norway, Mimmi Indine Nilsen
  • Poland, Zofia Raboj
  • Portugal, Maria Flores Ribeiro
  • Romania, Alexandra Ambrus
  • Slovakia, Daniela Némethová
  • Slovenia, Nikita Rehak Friš
  • South Africa, Anita Jayne Schoeman
  • Spain, Adriana Sánchez Natividad
  • Sweden, Nellie Podlinski
  • Switzerland, Nora Sutter
  • Ukraine, Kateryna Velychenko
  • United Kingdom, Paige Hughes
  • USA, Octavia Stensen

Judge, Rony Doedijns, has this advice to the finalists: “Be yourself and act and compete as you do regularly. It’s great for all participants but also for me as a judge to be part of the biggest dog show in the world. We will show the audience around the ring and the viewers around the world online the great connection and interaction that is possible between handlers and their dogs. The natural and breed typical presentation is very important for me in this competition. I’ll be looking for handlers to move the dogs at the correct speed and being connected to their dog, showing happiness and pleasure.”

Tom Mather, Crufts Chairman, said: “This competition is always particularly special to watch as we see the younger generation stepping into the spotlight, many of whom may have not ever been to Crufts before, let alone walking into the main arena. I must also thank all the dog lenders for their time and effort who will be providing dogs for this final.

“We look forward to hosting this spectacular event once again, where the finalists are already champions of their countries, and hope the audience will show support and encouragement for each and every handler as they represent their nation.”