A SCHOOLGIRL who taught herself dog grooming has taken top spot in three categories in the prestigious Crufts competition.

Abby Webb was awarded first place in her grooming class, first place in her handling class and was awarded overall reserve groomer of the year for the second year in a row.

Uniquely, she was competing in grooming and handling in both the stakes and main breed classes at the annual event in the Birmingham NEC.

The 16-year-old, who attends King Edmund School, in Rochford, practices grooming with her Tibetan Terriers Ciel and Adalia, who she co-owns with her aunt, Sharon Elvidge, from Southend.

Sharon, 61, said: “I was so over the moon when she was awarded.

“Abby took part in the groom through category and brushing through that coat isn’t a five minute job, it’s a major task.

“Contestants are allowed two hours and Abby was worried she’d run out of time.

“She was worried the judges would pick out things she’d missed.

“Her in-depth knowledge really helped her. They asked her questions like what shampoo she uses on the dog, how she stops the hair from being static and she answered them all.

“The judges take a look at the dogs before and then come back after.

“Obviously the cutting looks more dramatic, so they could’ve given the reserve award to someone from cutting. She won that out of at least 20 people.

“To win reserve groomer of the year for the second year running, she was chuffed.

“Out of her handling class on Sunday, she came first place out of the 18 handlers, it hadn’t sunk in an hour later.”

Abby has competed in Crufts since 2015 and attends two ringcraft clubs; the Southend and District Canine Society and Wickford and Basildon Canine Society.

An older junior handler, Jodi Allen, also supports her.

Abby has already automatically qualified for handling in the 2020 Crufts as a result of her first place and is working towards qualifying for International Handling. If she is successful she would represent the UK.