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Dog trials make show return

Dog trials make show return
New Zealand team captain Neil Evans with Tess. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The Trans-Tasman sheep dog trials will be back at the Ashburton A&P Show for the first time since 2011.

The country’s most talented heading dogs will take on their Australian counterparts in the 2023 trial test series which kicks off at 3.30pm in the main arena on Friday.

In the Kiwi line-up is team captain Neil Evans with Tess from Canterbury, along with Brian Dickison and Jake of Southland, Leo Jacentho and Tess of Waikato, and Ian Stevenson and Zac from Canterbury,

The team is determined to win back the prestigious Wayleggo Cup.

New Zealand team manager, event judge and NZ Sheep Dog Trial Association president Pat Coogan said the trials were "hotly contested" and showcased the sport at the highest level.

Competitors will compete on a special course that made for an exciting and spectator-friendly event.​

"Only the best of the best heading dogs get to compete for New Zealand against Australia."

New Zealand has won 21 of the 35 matches since the competition’s inception in 1985, which runs on an amalgamation of Aussie and Kiwi rules.

Coogan said the trials had not run for three years due to Covid-19 and resumed in Australia last year.

"We’re all excited to be back. Each dog will have 15 minutes to complete the course and spectators can expect some fierce competition."

A first for this year's trial will be very first female competitor in the event's history.

"Pip Flower and her dog Flowers Fang will be competing as part of the Australian team," Coogan said.

Local dog trial enthusiast ​​​Mark Copeland said this was the fourth time that the Ashburton A&P show had hosted the Trans-Tasman trial - but the first time since 2011.

He said the Wayleggo Cup was named after the common term for calling a heading dog back. It's an abbreviation of "come away and let go".

The course consists of four obstacles – a gate, a Maltese cross, a ramp and a pen. Each dog has 15 minutes to complete the course.

He said Ashburton was a popular venue for the trial because it was in the middle of South Island.

By Sharon Davis