Some of the best sheepdogs in New Zealand will be on display strutting their stuff when the Far North leg of the Tux Yarding Challenge returns to the Kaitaia A&P; Showgrounds tomorrow and Saturday.
Dogs to watch out for during the two-day event include: Barney Strong's Sparkle from Turangi, Nicola Rowlandson's Jan from Raglan, Graeme Northcott's Dick from Taranaki, and Bernie Gower's Eve from Eltham; Northlanders Murray Child's Ace and Dice and Scott McRae's Elle, along with the local faction led by veteran triallist Richie Coulter and Roy (the pair who took out the event last year), Pete Campbell's Dime, Merv Cameron's Clyde, Tony Hargreave with Steele, and Leo Jecentho with Cap.
However, the shepherds and their dogs will be up against sheep from Dennis O'Callaghan who were expected to prove a real test as local commentator and triallist Merv Cameron noted, adding it will take very good dogs to make the final.
Previewing the event, Cameron was also pleased to report a big increase in entries compared with last year, a total of 127 dogs registered and all attempting to qualify for the top 11 run-offs on Saturday afternoon.
He also cast his eye over the field and was impressed to note there were more women joining the sport every year, and doing well at it. "Don't be surprised if we see a lady in the final," Cameron said, adding there'll be prizes for maiden competitors as well.
"The competitors and their dogs will be from most areas of the North Island and many of the very best will be there," he said, noting these Tux challenges - a total of six in the North Island and five in the south - had become very popular with first and second placings progressing to compete in Taupo for the grand final prize.
The event starts at 7am on both days with the aim being to get through more than 70 dogs on the first day so teamwork in organising will be the key to achieving this, Cameron said.
As per custom, the supporting Peria A&P; Handy dog will also be held on the Saturday only for huntaway dogs which also creates a lot of interest from both competitors and spectators.
Entry is free for spectators who can access the grounds via the gates on South Road (opposite the dairy); food and refreshments will be available and the grandstand will provide great viewing for both the yarding challenge and handy dog events.
As well, following last year's debacle which saw some of the event's sheep being rustled, A1 Security will be on duty both nights to prevent any repeat offending.