ZEROING IN: Ben Clark’s dog Sir Hugo at the Alstonville Plateau Working Cattle Dog Trials.
ZEROING IN: Ben Clark’s dog Sir Hugo at the Alstonville Plateau Working Cattle Dog Trials. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Hard working dogs shine at trials

THE impressive skills of working cattle dogs and their handlers were on show at the Alstonville Plateau Working Cattle Dog Trials at the Alstonville Showgrounds over the weekend.

Held over two days, the event attracts competitors from all over NSW and Queensland. One of the organisers Hilton Murphy said the rain "bucketed down" on Saturday, but they still had 198 runs.

"The rain doesn't stop us," he said.

"We pretty much have non-stop runs and it is a really packed day."

The handlers and dogs must guide three cattle through a series of obstacles in five minutes.

The handlers can only use hand signals, voice commands and whistles to instruct the dog to guide the cattle. Points are awarded for each obstacle that is achieved.

But points can easily be lost - the judges are tough on their scores and deduct points when the cattle go off course or if the dog "crosses", which means it gets between the cattle and the handler.

Casino's Stephen Flatley and his dog Royce impressed the judges with their run of 1.51 minutes in the open trials on Saturday.

"They get five minutes to get around the course, so to do it in that time is good," Mr Murphy said.

"It was a really good run for Stephen, especially giv- en that it was pouring rain on Saturday."

For his impressive run, Mr Flatley got a score of 98 out of 100.

He was followed by Dick Chapman and his dog Lenny on 96 points, and Ann Sant came in third with Beetle.

The maiden category on Saturday was won by Fairy Hill's Fred Hancock and his dog Jake.

In Saturday's young dog category, Ann Sant won with her dog Snip. In second place was Dick Chapman with Rambo and third was a three-way tie between Snow Ellis with Sarg, Mick Davis with Wes and Ben Gould with Dot.

The novice category was won by Snow Ellis with Molly.

Second place went to Allan Fletcher with Rocket and third was Snow Ellis with Sparkie.

In the open category, Dick Chapman won with his dog Nugget and second place went to Geoff McLennan with Wally, while third place went to Shane Randall with Rogue.

Alstonville hosts well-attended cattle dog trials at the showgrounds twice a year.

CATTLE DOG TRIAL WINNERS

Open/open: Stephen Flatley with Royce

Maiden: Fred Hancock with Jake

Young dog: Ann Sant with Snip

Novice: Snow Ellis with Molly

Open: Dick Chapman with Nugget



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