Colin Armstrong and Cap win inter-district final

A well-controlled run by Colin Armstrong’s stylish and consistent Cap led the field at the Scottish inter-district nursery final at Meikleholm, Courance, on Saturday.

Cap, bred by local handler Angus Jardine, by his Corriedhu Spot out of his Cailleag, like his grandsire, Bobby Dalziel’s Spot, Cap proved to be a good listener.

Colin and Cap mastered the Blackface hoggs and made the job look easy. The evidence of their skill lay in the number of dogs who failed to complete their course.

Judge Nigel Watkins of Wales said: “The top three runs were all very good, but Colin was a clear winner. Cap maintained a perfect line on the return to the pen, whereas most handlers let the line drift there.”

The course was flat and open, with dips which could hide the sheep below a dog’s eye level or make lines difficult for the handler to judge, while the wintry landscape camouflaged gates and distant sheep. The Blackface hoggs ran well on the course but had an intense suspicion of any form of woodwork, while the long cross drive tested the young dogs and many runs were timed out.

Characteristic of the Scottish nursery final, the trial saw 45 packets of four fit hoggs worked by young dogs in front of enthusiasts from the UK, Scandinavia and USA on a cold March day.

Cap ran out and lifted cleanly, gave the sheep space and fetched and drove without any difficulty. At the mouth of the cross drive, Colin seemed to think the sheep were a little low, flanked Cap and caused the sheep to turn round. Colin had to flank hard to put them through then, but he succeeded, and finished the run with a clean pen and shed, leaving spectators in little doubt that he had taken the lead.

“Cap is very consistent, he settles sheep very quickly and they seem to draw on to him,” said Colin. “He was two in February and he has matured over the winter. I’m hoping to run him in the opens.”

Ian McMillan Lamp (R Dalziel’s Joe, S McCrindle’s Cass) ran out clean to the top and lifted well. Mindful of runs timed out, Ian opted for a quick fetch, but seeing the line wavering a little, he slowed the pace and Lamp kept the sheep on a good line after that. The drive was very good, apart from a little hesitation at both gates. One hogg broke apart at the pen, but Lamp quickly kepped her, secured the lot and finished the run with an exemplary, clean shed, the kind for which Ian is renowned. Lamp came second on 91.

Neil Campbell’s Cass (N. Campbell’s Gus and Baledmund Di) stopped short at the top, but she responded to Neil’s whistle and lifted her sheep cleanly.

The hoggs squiggled a little off line, but went through the gate. The drive started very well, and although the hoggs were prepared for a fight at the first set of gates Cass was able for them and put them through. The line of the cross drive was straight, if slightly low, but Cass had no difficulty turning the sheep through the gate. A clean pen and a good shed finished the run third with 88.

Two littermates came next. John Allan’s Ben (A Driscoll’s Cheviot Jamie, A Dickman’s Rule Skye) had a steady run, with minor points dropped over the piece but no major weaknesses and earned fourth place on 86.

Andrew Dickman’s Mist ran out and lifted clean but the fetch did not go so well and the sheep veered round the gate. Once Mist had them under control, she worked well and finished with a good shed, and fifth place on 84.   

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