While local participants were conspicuous by their absence from the top placings, the Far North fraternity could still celebrate the success of a trio of Whangārei-based competitors who enjoyed great success at the national sheep dog trial championships in Blenheim last week.
The standout performances came — not surprisingly — from the accomplished Child brothers, Neville and Murray, who picked up first and second placings in the long head final with Harry (scoring 94 plus 95 for a total of 189 points), and Dice (95.5, 93, 188.5) respectively, while Scott McRae and Corey from Wellsford finished fifth (94.5, 91, 185.5).
Veteran Kaitaia triallist Merv Cameron was unable to make it to the event due to other commitments but congratulated all three, particularly Neville.
"I was ecstatic as about four years ago as a fundraiser for our club, I auctioned a young dog which was eight-and-a-half months old and it was bought by Neville. It was Harry! Harry was a very talented dog when I trained him, always giving his best to please and showing exceptional ability in working sheep," Cameron said.
"I must say Neville has really taken Harry to new heights and he is now in his peak years and a lot more will be heard of him in years to come."
Cameron said Neville would be over the moon to get the prestigious green tie [given to the winners of national championship titles], having actually won a green tie a few year's ago with Deal — "Harry's grandfather of all dogs" — only to lose it when his vehicle was the target of theft at a motel in Wellington.
It was noted Deal's pedigree certainly shone through, being the father of Murray Child's extremely successful bitch, Dice, as well.
There was also no little jubilation over McRae's third-place finish with Toby in the zig zag Hunt final with a total of 191.25 points (96.75, 94.5). The result was even more remarkable upon considering Toby had literally risen from death's door after being struck down three weeks earlier with a serious complaint — which huntaways are susceptible to — commonly referred to as 'twisted gut'.
"A very fatal complication if not detected in time," Cameron noted, describing Toby's top-five finish after recovering from the ensuing emergency operation — which saw him spend five days at the vets — as a "mindboggling" effort.
"To be at these national champs is an achievement in itself but to be looking like a finalist is unbelievable. Scott told me that when they went on the mark to start his run, he said to his dog, 'Mate, you owe me!' and guess what, Toby delivered!"
Among those representing the Far North at the nationals were Shaun Haynes from Okaihau and Ian McKinnon, who is now based in Kerikeri.
The above results also allowed the Northland Sheep Dog Trial Centre to claim the CP Perry MBE Memorial Shield for 2018 (given to the centre with the most points) ahead of Whanganui second and Hawke's Bay third.
Cameron said his fellow sheep dog trial enthusiasts across the district were entitled to drink to the success.
* About 280 huntaways and 250 heading dogs competed at the 2018 TUX New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Championships, held in conjunction with the South Island champs and hosted by the Marlborough-Nelson SCTC at Blenheim from Monday to Saturday, May 28 to June 2. Other champions were, short head and yard: Guy Peacock and Chief (Dannevirke) 195.5 points total, zig zag: Alex Matthews with Rex (Whanganui) 195.5, and straight hunt: Alex Matthews again with Bonnie 194.1.