Top dogs, handlers set to compete in inaugural cow dog challenge

Australian Cow Dog Challenge organisers Tim McVey, Ian Cox and Marie Balmain, pictured with dogs Ruby, Ted and Texoma Mick, are getting ready for the inaugural event. Photo by Hickorwee Equine Photography
Australian Cow Dog Challenge organisers Tim McVey, Ian Cox and Marie Balmain, pictured with dogs Ruby, Ted and Texoma Mick, are getting ready for the inaugural event. Photo by Hickorwee Equine Photography

AUSTRALIA’S best dogs and their handlers are preparing for the country’s richest cattle dog challenge and sale, the Australian Cow Dog Challenge, held at Tamworth on November 3, 4, and 5.

The inaugural event, established to promote the breeding, training and welfare of Australian working cow dogs, is the brainchild of Attunga dog breeder Ian Cox, Texoma Working Dogs, Tamworth vet Tim McVey, and former Tamworth woman Maree Balmain, now based at Julia Creek, Queensland.

“Ian has been thinking about this for a while,” Mr McVey said.

“He always said he'd like to put on a big national event at AELEC (Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre) and we thought we could build a futurity concept which keeps people coming back each year.”

Handlers and breeders from Darwin to Tasmania will compete, with the huge amount of prize money a big incentive.

The open trial, sponsored by Cobber, is worth $18,000, with the winner receiving $10,000. 

The event also features an open sale for experienced dogs, and a futurity pup sale, both run through Landmark Tamworth, with all pups sold eligible to compete for more than $20,000 in prizes at next year’s event.

Fifteen mature dogs will be sold, and there are 96 pups, up to 12 months of age, in the futurity sale.

“We’ve got 56 vendors in the futurity sale and 10 vendors in the open sale, with 75 competitors and 163 dogs in the open trial,” Mr McVey said. 

Mr McVey said the event was the perfect opportunity for people to watch the best triallers in action, including many Australian champions, and buy quality dogs.

Buyers will be able to watch the dogs in working demonstrations on the Saturday, prior to the sale on Sunday.

“There are a lot of people out there breeding dogs with good genetics and it's hard to source them, but this brings everyone together in one big sale,” Mr McVey said.

Among the high profile handlers is Tony McCallum, from Manilla, who will come out of retirement for the event.

Mr McCallum won many events while trialling dogs in Australia and overseas, including Australian and Queensland championships.

He hasn’t trialled for about 20 years but has been breeding a few Border Collie pups each year. 

Mr McCallum will have two dogs competing and a pup in the sale.

"I think this is a good thing for the stock dog industry and I hope it succeeds,” he said.

Natel Tippy daughter in sale

QUEENSLAND trialler Paul Wroe,  Natel Working Cattle Dogs, Middlemount will have five dogs competing in the open trial and will sell one in the sale.

Mr Wroe has been trialling for 14 and has had the Queensland open dog of the year nine times, and won Australian open dog of the year twice.

Natel Tippy, the 2016 Queensland open dog of the year, will compete alongside Natel Dream, Brutonvale Sport, Brutonvale Jatz and Brutonvale Brandy. 

Ten-month-old Natel Skye is out of Natel Tippy and by Borrilla Creek Blade, who has been deceased for six years, Mr Wroe said.

“He was the father of many successful dogs, Natel Archie, Natel Ruby and Natel King. Ruby’s won more than 30 open dog trials.”

Six Shady Acres dogs in open trial

ONE of the country’s top triallers, Casino handler Robert Johnston, is supporting the Tamworth event with six entries in the open dog trial. 

He has some of the most experienced dogs in the trial, with Shady Acres Tania, Young Robin, Shady Acres Livi, Shady Acres Zac, Shady Acres Pattie, and his top dog, rising five-year-old Shady Acres Jimmy. 

Both Pattie and Jimmy have been Australian champions, Mr Johnston said.

“Pattie has won the cattle dog challenge for the Australian competition twice, which has never been done by a bitch, and she’s also had the highest Australian point score,” he said.

“Her son Jimmy has won the Australian point score  twice and he’s the current Australian point score dog.

“I'm very excited to be part of the cow dog challenge. It’s a good event for the industry.”

The Border Collie breeder and retired farmer now spends most of his time on the road, competing in 38 trials from southern NSW to far north Queensland this year.

The Shady Acres stud only breeds six or seven pups a year, only keep the best two, and he’s got a big following from buyers.

“I sell my dogs broken in and I’ve tapped right into wild goat mustering because the dogs are tough enough, and they do exactly what they're told,” Mr Johnston said.

“I trial all my pups, up to 20 months of age, because I want to keep the best for myself, and sometimes it takes a good six months for them to shine.”

Drillham triallers set to make an impact

DRILLHAM will be well represented at the Australian Cow Dog Challenge, with Queensland handlers Isaac Hotz and Jamie Sturrock trialling five dogs and selling 11.

The pair work for Austpec Pastoral, use their dogs every day on the properties, giving the dogs an advantage in trials, Mr Hotz said.

Mr Hotz will trial Jacksons Sister and Serrano Spike, on top of selling three dogs – Coolibah Hugh, Krui Turbo and Bielsdown Blue – in the futurity sale and four open dogs – Wilderness Jimmy, Wilderness Buster, Serrano Jolly and Serrano Spike. 

Paul Wroe, Middlemount, Queensland, has five dogs competing in the open trial.

Paul Wroe, Middlemount, Queensland, has five dogs competing in the open trial.

Getting plenty of time working each day is a big benefit for the dogs, he said.

“Our dogs go to work every day of the week so they're versatile and can think for themselves,” Mr Hotz said.

His boss Jamie Sturrock will have three generations competing at Tamworth, trialling two-time Australian and Queensland open dog of the year Swan Spud; Spud’s daughter Craiglea Twist, and Craiglea Twist’s son Craiglea Tex.

Mr Sturrock has four dogs on offer – Craiglea Lass, Craiglea Seth, Craiglea Sid and Craiglea Nell – in the futurity sale.

Casino dog trialler Robert Johnston with Shady Acres Jimmy.

Casino dog trialler Robert Johnston with Shady Acres Jimmy.

He’s been trialling since 2010 and has already had success.with Queensland, NSW and national titles. Mr Sturrock said he was looking forward to the Tamworth event.

“I think it’ll be a good event to promote cattle dog trialling and that extra prize money has attracted some new people.”

Shady Acres Jimmy in action.

Shady Acres Jimmy in action.

Isaac Hotz and Jamie Sturrock with their dogs Spike, Sister, Twist, Tex and Spud.

Isaac Hotz and Jamie Sturrock with their dogs Spike, Sister, Twist, Tex and Spud.

This story A challenge for top dog at Tamworth first appeared on The Land.