Competition is expected to be intense at Henty this year as the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the Exelpet Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.
Run under the auspices of the NSW Sheepdog Workers Incorporated, the sheep field trial is set to attract more than 100 dogs and their workers from around Australia.
The Exelpet Murray Valley Yard Dog Championships run by the NSW Yard Dog Association, is tipped to also attract more than 100 dogs.
Championships co-ordinator Peter Darmody said the event was one of the most prestigious on the calendar, and would draw the cream of the nation’s best dogs competing for more than $5000 in prize money plus trophies and prizes.
The maiden trial will be held on Tuesday, followed by the novice and open classes on Wednesday and Thursday.
The finals are due to get underway from 1pm on Thursday, with the winner receiving automatic entry to the 2017 NSW Yard Dog Championships.
Dogs will be fresh from last month’s South West Yard Dog Championships at West Wyalong, and the Rabobank Classic Darling River Championships at Wentworth.
Bill Luff, of Gundagai, Kevin Howell, of Eugowra, Fred Raines, Coolac, and Neil Taylor, Holbrook, and new Australian champion Shane Maurer, Young, are expected to be among the top line competitors.
The event is designed to demonstrate everyday skills a working dog would use on a farm.
Each entrant has 12 minutes to gather a mob of about 18 sheep, herd them through a draft, and then on and off a truck.
Starting on a score of 100, points are deducted for livestock and mishandling breakaway sheep and ineffective work.
Up to 450 sheep will be needed for the Exelpet Sheep Dog field trial heats and finals alone over the three days.
Run by the NSW Sheepdog Workers Incorporated, the event is limited to an open trial, with no encourager or novice class, and handlers entering their four best dogs.
Co-ordinator Paul Darmody said the event would draw both top-line competitors and younger handlers competing for prize money in excess of $3000.
Mr Darmody said the event would attract entries from NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria and Western Australia on their way to the Supreme Championships in Victoria.
The 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 sheep dog trial winner, Laurie Slater, of Murrumbateman, will return to compete this year.
Central NSW dog trialler Paul Elliott broke the four-year winning streak of Mr Slater at last year’s event.
The event is a three-sheep field trial, requiring the dog to move the sheep around a designed course.
The dog begins by casting around the sheep, bringing them back to the worker.
The dog and worker then move around a marked course through obstacles of a race and bridge before penning them within 15 minutes.
Victorian judge Greg Campbell, Sutherlands Creek, will take on the judging role at Henty.