A Kaitaia sheepdog commentator has boldly come out and predicted that a Northland dog will win the Tux Yarding Challenge final in Taupo over Auckland Anniversary Weekend.
Respected for his knowledge, and also as a fierce competitor on the Northland and national circuits, Merv Cameron said the Northland trio who qualified for the national finals held the potential to return to Northland with the top prize in the fiercely-contested event.
The field of 20 overall - eight South Island winners and 12 North Island combinations - features some of the very best dogs in New Zealand but Cameron said it would pay not to overlook the chances of Horeke's Pete Campbell with Dime, and Te Paki Station's Leo Jecentho with Cap, along with Whangarei's Murray Child with Dice.
"This very powerful trio will be strong contenders," Cameron predicted. "All three men and dogs have been in great form and these dogs are class individuals. Dime and Dice have both won national championships on the hill trials and both were class winners in the provincial finals while Cap was second so no doubting the talent of the three."
Ironically all three dogs were closely related; Dime and Dice both by Neville Child's Deal, while Cap's mother was also of Deal. Though now retired, Deal had made a huge impact on the breeding of top quality heading dogs and his semen has been frozen so his quality can be carried on. Also expected to impress at Taupo next weekend is Kris Sturge from Rangiahua with his dog Flake in the heading maiden competition.
After a series of provincial qualifiers, including one held in Kaitaia last month, the top two dogs from each event making for a total of 20 all up won the right to progress to the prestigious Tux National Championships, while another 20 will take part in the handy dog events where Northland will be represented by Duncan Gilligan from Kaiwaka.
Cameron said Gilligan has been trialling for many years with only minor success so it was great to see him there with the best: "His enthusiasm for the sport is unquestionable and he is now striving to give more back by being an associate judge and judging around the shows to get confidence and more competence. Duncan will certainly be an asset to the judges' list.
"Good luck to our locals and I'm picking we will bring back the top prize," He said confidently.
The annual finals in the Purina Tux Yarding Challenge series are being held at Aratiatia Station in Taupo from Friday to Monday, January 25-28.