Millar, Clark lead charge for dog trialling glory
Every dog has its day, but only a select few will make the final cut at the Tux New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championship trials at Waihi Station near Geraldine next month.
As many as 300 competitors and their canine partners will line up for each of the four main national events in the main feature of the dog trialling calendar. The heading events are the long head and short head and yard and the huntaway events are the zigzag hunt and the straight hunt.
In good form is Stu Millar from Peak Hill Station who, with dog Rose, is the defending champion of the national short head and yard event in Taupo last year.
Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association promotions officer Sally Mallinson said the club trials had yet to be completed, but several Canterbury competitors and their dogs were standing out as possible contenders at the South Island and national events.
She said Millar was always competitive and had trialled well at club level.
''The heading guys looking good so far are Andy Clark and Lady and then Neil Evans and Rose and Gem. As far as the huntaway goes they are more evenly spread.''
Canterbury triallists showing their merit in the huntaway section so far include Clark and Evans and Mark Copland and Zoe. North Canterbury's John Kotlowski and dog Tag is also in the mix with Mark Mallinson and Yeti and Freedo and Steve Kerr with Dodge and Bully and Dan Greenwood with Cruise.
Many other triallists are closing in on them with a ''whole bunch'' at the top level, said Mallinson.
She said good numbers of young competitors attracted to trialling, despite pressures on the sheep industry by dairying, were coming through and could up-end some of the older hands.
She said entries had yet to close, but organisers were expecting up to 300 entries in each of the four main events.
The testing courses over Waihi Station's steep gullies are expected to tax triallists, but they will not be the only challenges facing them.
The station is owned by the Reid Family Trust and family head Archie Reid - a trialling enthusiast who ran his first dog as a schoolboy in the late 1930s - will provide drysdales for the competition.
Mallinson said the triallists and their dogs would not be used to working with the breed and the drysdales would provide a good challenge for them. Among the national judges are the farming Manson brothers of Banks Peninsula with Ben adjudicating the long head and Sam the zigzag.
The New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association events are hosted by the Geraldine Collie Dog Club which uses Waihi Station as its base.
Entries close on April 26.