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Crunch Time For Trialists

16 May 2006

Crunch Time For Trialists

It is the business end of the dog trialing season as the country¹s best trialists and their dogs head south for the TUX 2006 South Island and New Zealand Championship Sheep Dog Trials beginning Monday 29th May.

The North Otago Centre is hosting the trials and with entries already reaching 480 dogs and over 250 competitors the standard of the trialing is set to be high.

The trials are being held at Omarama Station, which nestles between the Waitaki Valley and the MacKenzie Country, offering a backdrop of some of New Zealand¹s most stunning scenery. In a bonus for spectators all courses can be seen from the roadside.

North Otago Centre President Richard Watson says the courses are set to bring out the best in the trialists.

³They are all challenging courses, and for many there is the added element of having to work with merino sheep. They aren¹t as used to being handled as the crossbreds so people will have to work out what is the best way to deal with them. And this challenge could be part of the reason we have had such a great response ­ it¹s something a bit different.²

Competitors and their dogs have been competing since early this year at trials held by the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association (NZSDTA) across its 13 regional centres.

To be eligible for the TUX South Island and New Zealand Championships, dogs must have gained six points or more in 2006 Open Standard Events.

Competitors earn points according to their placing in the open section in each event. First place is awarded five points, down to one point for fifth.

The Championship is made up of four events, two featuring the silent heading dogs,

The Long Head and The Short Head and Yard, and two featuring the barking huntaway dogs - The Zig-Zag Hunt and The Straight Hunt.

TUX South Island Champions are found after participating in one run in their chosen event.

The top seven from each of the four events, will then go on to compete for the TUX New Zealand Championship titles. The winner being the trialist who has the highest aggregate score across the two runs.

Organisers are expecting, though timings are weather dependent, the finals of the TUX 2006 National Championship to be run for the huntaways during the afternoon of Friday 2nd June. The final for the Long Head is scheduled for the morning of Saturday 3rd June with the Short Head and Yard taking place in the afternoon.

Watson says the Centre is confident in hosting a great event, thanks largely to a group of volunteers from both the Omarama Club and North Otago Centre.

³It¹s a magnificent venue, both for competitors and spectators, especially as everything is in walking distance from Omarama. It¹s a huge event for us and it has really been a combination of great co-operation and teamwork to be ready.²

Long time sponsor TUX clocks up 37 years this year ­ making it one of the longest running sponsorships in New Zealand.

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