By Dae Peck
THE annual Championship Dog Trial event was eventually held at Westley Farm on Sunday April 22, having being cancelled on Saturday due to bad weather conditions and ferry passengers not arriving on the Friday night. Calm and frosty with a light covering of snow, it was a pleasant enough day for working dogs and an excellent photographic opportunity.
Left: Steven Dickson Assistant Manager North Arm Farm
First to run was Susan Hirtle with Toto; a good run and nifty penning that left the other handlers muttering about 'a tough act to follow' and the judges cards barely scratched.
Next came Paul Peck with Ken who failed to open out wide enough on the outrun, resulting in the sheep running to the letting out pen. This is always a dangerous thing in dog trials and left the spectators groaning and the competitors grinning. Ken redeemed himself, however, by getting his sheep away, and he skilfully made his way through to the second penning of the day.
Both of Steven Dickson's dogs, first Geoff and then May showed the West Falklands that the East dogs are right up there when it comes to trialling. May's smooth style and polished command soon had the crowd enthralled and as the gate shut on the five penned sheep spectators were left with little doubt that May would be the one to beat.
However, then came Christopher May and Meg, with a run that surely equalled the last. There were just no end of thrills and suspense with each handler undoubtedly under more pressure as their turn came to perform.
Tony Hirtle's Kylie and Susan Hirtle's Tasha (only entered a day before, due to Critta Lee not being able to attend) both worked superbly and sailed through the course with the confidence and style that has come to be expected of the Hirtle's dogs.Last to go was Arthur and Yuppy; and after a slow start, because Yuppy was intent on doing the perfect lift on a bunch of baby trees, did well and completed a day of very high standard trialling.
With every competitor penning the sheep in good time, timekeeper Ieaun Ford didn't have to blow his whistle once, which was just as well because it turns out he didn't have one anyway.
The judges, Peter Nightingale, Leon Marsh and Keith Alazia didn't keep anyone waiting too long before toting up their sheets and announcing the prize winners.
Penni and Tex provided a lovely dinner of shepherds pie and doughfries, cold sticky ribs and salad, enough to feed three times as many guests as were there. And so with bellies full and thirst quenched a gang convoyed up over the hills and mountains to Hill Cove where the club was opened and the tales of the day were told and re-told until the early hours.
1st - May and Steven Dickson - 22 points lost2nd - Meg and Christopher May - 27 points lost3rd - Kylie and Tony Hirtle - 32 points lost4th - Toto and Susan Hirtle - 35 points lost