Big dog trials coming to Clutha
The Warepa Collie Club is gearing up to host the South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships on a newly redeveloped course near Clinton in South Otago, in May.
This will be the first time in the Warepa club’s 90 year history that it has hosted the prestigious event, which is expected to attract about 200 competitors and at least 400 dogs, from all throughout New Zealand, in the week-long championship, to be held from May 1-6.
The event will be held at the club’s home ground on Hillfoot Rd venue in the Kaihiku ranges, about 12km from Clinton and 20km from Balclutha.
A working bee will be held on February 8, as a last push to get all the course elements finished and infrastructure finalised.
‘‘We’re pretty much on top of things,’’ club president Tony Miller said.
‘‘There’s been a lot of work done in the last year, and now we’re finishing the parking area, and mapping out where to put the marquee.’’
The club was fortunate to have strong support and sponsorship for building materials and fences, he said.
The Otago dog trial centre had assisted with building the four judge’s boxes for the two huntaway courses, and the short head and yard course, which have been established on the Lawler family farm, along with the long pull course, on the adjoining Cross brothers’ property.
The club’s thriving membership made it possible to host such a large event, which would be run by the Otago dog trial centre, Warepa member and competitor Jan Taiarua said.
‘‘They’re not all trialists but a big portion do take part in competition,’’ she said.
The dog trial season, where competitors and their dogs seek qualification for the South Island champs, are getting under way this week at Lowburn, near Cromwell in Central Otago, on Friday and Saturday.
The aim this year was to create a public-friendly championships for spectators, to enjoy the competition and the hospitality tent, huntaway course convenor and club member Trevor Wilson said.
The club had put together a very challenging course that would test competitors’ mettle on the steep and rugged terrain, and would demand every ounce of the dog and human partnership.
‘‘They don’t get up there there by accident.’’
Warepa Collie Club members Jan Taiarua and Trevor Wilson on the South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships course.