Top US huskies on Scottish sled team
A SCOTTISH businessman is aiming to make a mark on the European Sleddog racing scene this winter after taking possession of some of the world's finest endurance racing dogs.
Three Alaskan Huskies have swapped the Rockies for the Cairngorms after being imported from America to make a new home for themselves in Badenoch and Strathspey.
The racing dogs - named Budweiser, Dingo and 2 Steps - have joined up with the pack at the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre in Rothiemurchus, Aviemore much to the delight of the Centre’s owner Alan Stewart.
The illustrious trio were previously part of four-time Iditarod winner Doug Swinley's pack of dogs. To win the Iditarod, Swinley had to complete a daunting 1,200 mile journey across Alaska in mid-winter.
The dogs are now part of Mr Stewart's pack of 38 after long-time friend Mr Swinley gave them to him.
Mr Stewart said the dogs would go some way to keeping the UK's only sleddog centre alive and kicking for years to come.
‘For the first time in UK sleddog history that this level of sleddog has arrived on these shores. They are from what is one of the very best kennels in the America,’ he said.
‘Eighteen months ago I visited Doug, trained every day with him and saw the calibre of his dogs. These three are simply awesome racers.
‘The three new dogs' breeding lines go all the way back through the sport's history and it's a privilege to have them here at our centre. To get this level of dogs from one of the very best sleddog mushers in the world means a lot to me.’
The dogs are to go towards replacing Mr Stewart's lead race dog, Chagall, who is to retire on Christmas Day. Chagall's son, Hawkeye, is to take on the mantle, with Mr Stewart eyeing competition on the European circuit this winter, weather permitting.
The racer also revealed that his son, John (22), is to go one step better this winter by taking part in one of the world's premier sleddog races. John will spend up to five months in Alaska helping top Austrian musher Hans Gatt in this year's Yukon Quest, arguably the toughest sleddog race around.
The race runs more than 1,000 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon, during the depths of the Arctic winter.