HE’S Scotland’s junior dog sledding champion – but until last week it seemed he might have to put his race career on ice.
Marco Ezzi, ten, has already won 20 competitions across the UK with his Alaskan malamute, Buck, but faced the prospect of competitions drying up when his main source of funding disappeared earlier this year.
His dad, David, also a dog racer, said he and his son were very concerned when sponsor Robert Wiseman pulled its funding after it was bought by German dairy giant Muller in a £279 million takeover.
But the day was saved for the Armadale pair – and their dogs – when local retail chain Day To Day stepped in to provide £1000 allowing them to buy a new sled as well as providing money for diesel so they can continue to travel to events.
Last year, Marco won the junior section of the country’s biggest dog sled racing competition – the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain’s Aviemore Sled Dog Rally – which attracts thousands of dogs and more than 200 teams.
David, 34, said he was “delighted” at the new sponsorship deal.
“This new sponsorship money makes a hell of a difference to Marco and I – it keeps us on the road,” he said. “When Wiseman pulled out over the summer, we worried about not getting the sponsorship.
“We would not have been able to get to as many races as before and my son would not have been able to compete so it’s really great that this money has come through.
“We are particularly happy that a local company has taken an interest and is seeing something that needs their help.
“It’s good for the community here. We were lucky with Day To Day as they got the ball rolling more or less straight away but we were worried for a bit.
“I think it’s also good for them that people are seeing they’re not only bothered about their shops but taking an interest in the community as well.”
David said he and Marco, a pupil at St Anthony’s Primary School in Armadale, have dedicated their lives to dog racing, and are backed by the rest of the family – mum Louise and siblings Lucy and Aiden – who all bundle into the car every weekend to join them for training at Ae Forest, just outside Dumfries.
There they spend the day racing on the cycle paths and forest trails with their four malamutes – Buck, Sesi, Shadow and Mia.
He said: “The dogs do really well every year and we’ve won lots of races. My son is only ten and this is so important to him.
“He’s won about 20 competitions in total and he’s the Scottish junior champion. The new money is crucial to keeping Team Ezzi going.”
Dog power has been used for hunting and travel for over a thousand years and it is thought that dogs first contributed to human culture as far back as the tenth century.