Buoyed by recent success at the South Island championships in Hanmer, Wanganui Centre sheep dog trialists are all set for the New Zealand Championships.

The nationals are being hosted by the Northland Centre at Ohaewai, starting on May 27.

Representatives will include Wanganui Centre president Paul Evans who was second with Richie in the shorthead at the South Island event, plus 25 centre qualifiers, 23 heading dogs and 18 huntaways as well as a few late qualifiers.

In the hunts at Hanmer, Dave Stuart (Rangiwahia) with Charm was fifth in the zig-zag hunt; Guy Heard and Sky (Otairi-Pukeroa) fifth in the straight hunt; and Tim Macpherson and Gus (Mataroa) sixth in the straight hunt, giving Heard and Macpherson their first ever placings at national level.

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The centre's top heading dog, Graeme Wellington's Rachel, will be at the nationals.

Alex Matthews (Mangamahu) will defend his New Zealand titles from 2018, when he won the zig-zag with Rex and straight hunt with Bonnie.

Mark Lourie (Parapara/Makirikiri) will be trying to go one better with Bella who was second in the zig-zag hunt at Blenheim last year.

Top heading duo Graeme Wellington and Rachel waiting to jump into action in the Centre Champs longhead at Otairi.
Top heading duo Graeme Wellington and Rachel waiting to jump into action in the Centre Champs longhead at Otairi.

Raetihi's Kathryn Oliver, a former New Zealand and Island placegetter, is the only centre woman competing at the nationals.

Hopes are high for top placings for the female competitors after Jo Waugh (Wairoa) became the first woman to ever win a national title, taking out the South Island zig-zag hunt final.