Mike Moody and dog Spot blew the rest of the field away to win the long head at the Omamari Sheep Dog Trials on Saturday — and then showed that result was no fluke by taking out the Northland title in the same event on Sunday.
Local triallist and commentator Merv Cameron described the Ohaeawai pair's performance as a fine effort, and one even more respectable considering they pipped former New Zealand champion Dice and Murray Child in both cases.
The lighter-contoured long head course saw, in most cases, the sheep freewheeling downhill, thus not giving dogs a chance to make and hold solid contact, although the sheep did settle once the heavier rain started and this enabled some tidier efforts to come through, said Cameron.
He added the sheep off the Miller property were testing as they knew their home territory, "but at least knew where the put away gate is and so that's where they wanted to go."
Child and Dice weren't done, however, and went on to show their class by winning the short head and yard at Omamari — on a course "difficult both in the outrun and more so on the flat where the drive and yard takes place" — with an impressive effort.
The Maungakaramea combination also won the short head and yard run off for the Northland championship on Sunday leaving Moody and Spot to settle for second place.
"I must say that those watching saw a monumental display from Dice ... I have no hesitation of confirming that this bitch is by far the best dog in New Zealand. Her display in the final was sublime and an education for those watching of what the elite can do. She just blew me away."
Child eventually claimed two centre championships over the weekend by winning the straight hunt with Frank, having placed 5th in that event at the club trial the previous day.
Another dog catching Cameron's eye was Shaun Haynes' Sue, which finished runner-up to Dice in the short head and yard section of the Omamari trial: "I feel [she] could be the next Dice. Both Shaun and Sue have grown an extra leg this year and their future is exciting."
The other winner of a Northland title at Omamari on Sunday was Grant West and Swagga in the zig zag hunt, backing up their winning of the club title the day before.
The Omamari trial represented leg 4/12 of the provincial circuit was held in conjunction with the Northland championships. This meant the top five Northland placegetters from the trial on Friday and Saturday progressed to run off for centre titles on the Sunday; the winners there automatically qualifying for the nationals, which are being held in the Mid North later this year.
In conclusion, Cameron noted the Omamari trials enjoyed record entries and congratulated organisers Terry North and Anna Blair for a well-run event.
"The Omamari club put a huge effort into these trials and surprised me with the number of young workers they had. They had revamped their clubrooms and ran a trial that many other clubs will fail to match. "
There's now a bit of a break, a weekend off, before the next event in the Northland circuit is held at Rodney from March 9-10.