Saturday, December 9, 2023

Little club heads winners list at sheep dog trials

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Tiny club 20km from Amberley dominates short head and yard final.
Neil Evans with Tess and Smoke, who both qualified for the short head and yard final at the nationals. Photo: Kayla McKenzie Photography
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There must be something in the water at the Omihi Collie Club in North Canterbury.

Four of the seven dogs to feature in the short head and yard final at the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Championships at Warepa, near Balclutha, were from the tiny club about 20km from Amberley.

Neil Evans and Tess were the star performers, winning the short head title for the second consecutive year. Evans also finished fourth in this year’s event with a second dog, Smoke.

Fellow club members Fergus McLean and Dan finished fifth while Ian Stevenson and Zac were sixth.

Evans and Tess were also sixth in the long head section, while McLean and Suzie finished third in the straight hunt.

A sheep and beef farmer, Evans said the results are a tribute to the Omihi club. 

To win back-to-back titles with Tess was particularly pleasing. It was Evan’s third national title, the first coming in 2010 at Gore with Tess’s mother Rose.

“To back it up from last year was brilliant,” Evans said.

“You don’t expect it because it’s all on the day. You’ve got be on song but you’ve got to have sheep that play ball.”

Evans said he felt under no added pressure with two dogs in the final run.

“I suppose it’s a privilege to be put under pressure. It was actually good to have the two dogs in there.”

Having been in the sport for more than 40 years, Evans rates Tess as one of his best dogs.

“She’s got a great attitude and is easy to work. She has a beautiful touch with sheep and sheep seem to like her.”

The sport is an extension of Evans’s day-to-day farm work, but it has enabled him to visit most parts of the country and make some lifelong friends.

The icing on the cake for Evans was his selection as captain of the NZ sheep dog team for a trans-Tasman test against Australia in Ashburton in October, alongside club mate Stevenson. Evans represented NZ in Tasmania last year. 

“It is a great honour to be selected by your peers. Hopefully we do the job justice.”

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