A speedy Monmouth schoolboy has teamed up with his Scandinavian pet hound to win a European sporting title in the Italian Alps.

Rowan Saxton, 15, and Wilma triumphed in the Junior Men’s category at the International Canicross Federation’s European Championships in Santa Maria Maggiore.

Rowan, a pupil at Monmouth School for Boys, was a clear winner in the 15 to 18 age section, storming to victory 52 seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Frenchman Johan Patin.

It is the third time Rowan has won the event – but the first with 16-month-old Wilma, a purpose-bred sled dog from Germany.

The talented teenager also represented the British elite men’s relay team in Italy and they finished a creditable fifth place against fierce competition.

“I am absolutely delighted and very proud of completing a hat-trick of European title wins,” said Rowan. It was special because it was Wilma’s first major championships.

“She has only been competing since the summer and is also a family dog who takes part in regular walks, football and cricket.”

Rowan has enjoyed a host of European title triumphs since he started competing in 2010 with his kelpie cross Henry.

The pair are currently training for a half-marathon in the Brecon Beacons in early December.

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