ALL have marvelled at the bond between man and dog brought to our sitting rooms by the highly popular television programme ‘One Man and His Dog’.
Some of the handlers who have appeared on this programme are now familiar names, with many qualifying from their respective national competitions to have the honour of representing their country at this year’s International Sheep Dog Trial.
The pinnacle in the sheep dog trialling calendar, this year it will be held from Thursday, 6 to Saturday, 8 September at Gill Hall Estate, Lurgan Road, Dromore.
Six hundred dogs were entered in the four national championships currently taking place and the top 15 dogs and handlers in each country’s national competition then take their place in the international competition.
During the three days the top 60 handlers, made up of teams of 15 handlers and their dogs from each of the nations, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, will be competing against each other to determine an overall ‘International Supreme Champion’.
All handlers are seeking to win this prestigious individual award, however there is also the team competition and the individuals will have a strong desire for their nation to win this.
The 90-acre field situated in the beautiful undulating Co Down countryside makes a perfect setting for a very challenging supreme championship.
Day one and two of the event consists of the 60 handlers competing to qualify for a place within the Supreme Championship, which is held on day three. The Supreme Competition is restricted to the 15 highest pointed dogs from the qualifying trials irrespective of country or class.
In addition to the Supreme Championship, the Brace Championship and Young Handler Competition will take place.
Sheep dog trialling is a long established event, and the International Championship, as a trial, has been held annually since 1906 with exception of the war years and during the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001, when incidentally it was scheduled to be last held in Co Down at the Seaforde Estate and was subsequently held there in 2002.
As with any international event it would not be possible to stage without the help of many people and organisations. The site has been kindly loaned by James and Bill Porter, to whom the organisers are deeply indebted as without a site of such proportion the event could not take place.
The help given by the main sponsors Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council along with local business sponsors Nutt Travel, Happy Dogs Boarding Kennels, Gerard Hamill and Sons, Lurgan Veterinary Clinic, Sheriff Homes, CCS, The Seagoe Hotel, Precia-Molen, Joseph Walls Limited, Provita, CCM Auctions, Logan Whistles, RJ Lyness, Rathfriland Co-op Mart, DT Dog Boxes, Alph Dog Trailers and DAERA, and the local hard-working committee cannot be underestimated in the efficient running of such a high profile international event.
Come along to Gill Hall on 6, 7 and 8 September, take your seat in the grandstands and see sheepdogs handled like you have never seen before. Bring the family with you and visit the local companies trade stands.
The International Sheep Dog Trial will attract audiences from all over the world, with anticipated visitor numbers in excess of 12,000 during the three days of trialling.