More than 30 Hawke's Bay farmers, managers, stock managers and shepherds will be crossing Cook Strait for their big sporting opportunity at the Tux South Island and national sheep dog trials.
The championships will be hosted by the Marlborough-Nelson centre and will be held at Meadow Bank Farms, Omaka, starting on May 28 with about 1000 runs across the four courses in the South Island championships. Organisers and competitors will be hoping to complete in time for the green-tie New Zealand title runoffs to be held before the start of the Queen's Birthday holiday weekend.
They will be buoyed by the success of Te Aute club member Laurie Horsfall in winning the North Island short head and yard title on his home course last week.
Horsfall will be running just Island title winner Raid. Also from the Bay are the three heading dogs of defending national long head champion Bob Bruce, of Te Aute; the two heading dogs and one huntaway of centre president Clark Chrystal, of Tutira; the one heading dog and two huntaways of Wairoa's Rebecca Baynes; and the one heading dog and two huntaways of Wairarapa and SHB centre competitor David Sheild, of Dannevirke.
Bruce's team will include Cheat, with which he won the national title last year at Whangara, near Gisborne. Cheat was an early exit at the North Island championships last week, where Bruce, a former Hawke's Bay centre president, did claim a fourth place in the long head runoff with Jaco.
Shield and Clyde will be defending the South Island long head title they won last year in North Otago and Te Pohue's Stu McNeill will have Ranger tuned for a defence of the zig zag hunt title.
Surprise Hawke's Bay huntaway of the year winners Fraser Taylor and Waite made a short-lived appearance on the leaderboard at Te Aute last week and will be hoping to do even better, Waite being the only entry for Taylor, who is based near Wairoa.