World Sheep Dog Trials
THE triennial World Sheep Dog Trials, held this year at Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, attracted 242 entries from 22 countries.
Almost 50,000 people attended over the four days and, the night before the trials began, thousands lined the main street of the town to watch the parade of grouped handlers and their dogs.
On the the first two days, Thursday and Friday, there were trials in three fields and from these preliminary competitions, 42 dogs went through to Saturday’s semi-final, from which the top 16 dogs went forward to the double fetch final.
Going to the post with run seven, Aled Owen from Wales and with Roy had a score that everyone said could not be beaten – 583 points. Then with run 14 Ron Snoeck from the Netherlands equalled it with Nell.
Field one lay in front of the mansion house and it was used as one of the three qualifying trials.
The layout of the course was changed for Saturday’s semi-final and again for the double fetch final.
Field two was accessed from the main drive before reaching the big house, while field three could only be reached after a considerable walk towards the ruins of the old castle.
Each field had its own particular characteristics. The gentle humps and hollows of field one required the use of steps by the handlers.
It was open ground for the 400 yard outrun. The first drive was to the left and after the return to the ring there was shedding and penning before finally singling.
Field two featured a steep drop down. Again the handler made use of a podium. The lift and the cross-drive took place on the flat ground below the hill, but at the end of the fetch the sheep had to climb up to the handler just as they made their return to the ring over steep ground.
Field three was the smallest of the qualifying fields. It lay in low ground and was enclosed by trees. It would have to be called an uphill course with the sheep being walked out to the peg. The first drive was to the left.
From each field and on each of the qualifying days, seven made it through to the 42-dog semi-final.
Again, but with an altered course, Field one was used to reduce the numbers to 16, who all went forward to the double fetch championship in which the overseas handlers had 25 per cent of the places.
The final on Sunday began at 9am and David Wood (England) was the first to go with Moe.
His score of 527 was an indication of a high scoring day, confirmed by second runner, Kevin Evans (Wales) with Spot on 532. There were only five runs scoring less than 500 and every run was finished.
Aled Owen’s run with nearly five-and-a-half-year-old Roy was down-pointed in every element with two lost on the first outrun, 12 on his second outrun, three on the first lift and four on the second.
The two fetches were 15 and 26; driving, 32; shedding 2; and pen 1 – totalling 583. As Aled said later, it was one of his best sheds ever .
Ron Snoeck had a dream start, losing nothing on the first outrun and five on his second; his first lift was clear and lost two on the second lift.
The first fetch was clear, but then things started to go wrong for Roy with 38 points lost on the second fetch and 42 on the driving. Ten points went in the shedding ring, but the run ended with a clean pen. His score was 583.
When the first World Trial was held in Bala six years ago, Aled Owen won by a single point. This year, after he and Ron Snoeck finished level on points, a slightly complicated method of scoring, using the allocation of merit points, gave Aled the trophy – again by a single point.
WORLD SHEEP DOG TRIALS: 1, A. Owen (Wales) Roy, 61 Merit Points; 2, R. Snoeck (Netherlands) 60; 3, S. Davidson (Scotland) Jim, 65; 4, J. McGee (Ireland) Becca, 48; 5, A. Gallagher (Ireland) Bill, 47; 6, M. Jones (Wales) Joe, 45. Team Result: 1, Wales, 2, Scotland, 3, Switzerland,