Laurie Slater wins Henty sheep trial title for fifth time

Finalists in the Pedigree and Nature’s Table Three Sheep Trial were from left, Paul O’Kane, Leigh Foster, Julie Burkitt, Geoff Gibson, Laurie Slater, John Perry and judge Peter Oxley.

Octogenarian Laurie Slater overcame a serious injury to take the prestigious Henty Three Sheep Trial Championship for the fifth time.

Laurie, 85, of Murrumbateman, and his Border Collie, Wondara Jules, outclassed a strong line-up of handlers and their dogs in the Pedigree and Nature’s Table Three Sheep Trial.

The trial drew over 100 entries and was run over the three days of the Henty Machinery Field Days on September 18-20.

Laurie was fresh from winning the improver class at the 2018 NSW State Championships, along with the Henty titles in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

He finished on a total score of 256 – one point ahead of John Perry, Bredbo, in second place with his dog Jazz.

Julie Burkitt, Young, NSW, was third on 253 points, while fourth was John Perry and his dog Rapper on 243 points.

Geoff Gibson, Warwick, Qld, filled fifth place and Paul O’Kane, Cobram, was sixth and seventh.

Co-ordinator Paul Darmody said the event was a great way to bring kelpies and collies together to expose the sports to mainstream spectators.

Mr Darmody said judge Peter Oxley, of Bathurst, was tested over the three days, not only by a close field of entrants but also by a swooping magpie.

“Jules did Laurie Slater proud and worked exceptionally well,’’ he said.

Laurie bred the eight-year-old bitch himself and believed she could be in pup for the first time.

She had been crowned Port Fairy Working Sheep Dog Trials Dog of the Year before coming into Henty.

“She did well although she was out of condition as I had a car accident in April, breaking two vertebrae in my back,’’ Mr Slater said.

Murray Valley Yard Dog Championship judge Chris Sellars, Brungle, with winners Robert Cox, Manildra, Peter Darmody, West Wyalong, Dean Incher, Adaminaby, Bill Luff, Gundagai, Kevin Howell, Eugowra, Matthew Sherwood, Muringo and Rex Hocking, Avenue Range, SA.

“Jules worked no differently than any other day but you always hope for the best.

“It is important not to frighten the stock, the less talk the better and give not too many commands to the dog.

“I don’t whistle as my teeth were knocked out as a young fellow.’’

Laurie, who started trialling in 1983, competed with four dogs at Henty and is now off to the Supreme Championships at Hawkesbury.

Meanwhile, the Pedigree and Nature’s Table Murray Valley Yard Dog Championships were dominated by Robert Cox, Manildra, and his dog Karrobar Captain on 187 points under the eye of judge Chris Sellars, Brungle.

Dean Incher, Adaminaby, and Peter Darmody, West Wyalong, were equal second on 185 points.

In fourth place was Bill Luff, Gundagai, and fifth Dean Incher, with Rafa.

The event drew 157 runs across four events over the three days.

Robert Cox won the event with the four-year-old, home bred Kelpie, Karrobar Captain, qualifying for the NSW Yard Dog Championships at Taralga in January.

“The sheep were tricky and the dogs had to be a little sensitive,’’ he said.

“This is great company to win against – Henty is right up there as a win here carries a fair bit of prestige.’’

Mr Cox also won the improver class with Trigger.