Reported by Maree Fields, ACDC committee. 

The inaugural Australian Cow Dog Challenge and Sale commenced at the AELEC centre in Tamworth over the 3rd, 4thand 5th of November. With record breaking dog sale numbers and a huge Cobber Open Trial program boasting $18,000 prize money the event drew competitors and vendors from 4 states and territories. 

From the first run of the Cobber Open trial dog handlers experienced success with Craig Ervine’s Bauers Jim (Blackbrook Sweep x Bauers Henti) running 90 points proving the indoor arena at AELEC being compatible with a traditionally outdoor sport. He was soon joined by Robert C Johnston and Shady Acres Jimmy (Natel Joker x Shady Acres Pattie) with a near flawless 93.3, Kevin Bell and Claire 91.7 and Robert C Johnston again with his entry Shady Acres Pattie (Burdlla Shep x  Shady Acres Bella) with a 90.3. 

The competition was adjudicated over by three judges Steven Murray (NSW) , Rod Cavill (VIC) and Warren Jenkins (QLD) and had 5 mins allocated over the course consisting of a delivery area, gate, race and put away. 40 competitors advanced into the second round with a score of 78.7 or better. The second round saw another element added to the course and an additional 10 points added to the total possible score, plus extra time. This round saw Paul Roots and Riverside Swagman (Riverside Jake x Hylite Rush) running a 105 average to win the round, closely followed by Robert C Johnston and Shady Acres Zac (Natel Joker x Shady Acres Pattie) 100.3 average and Peter Crowe with Capree Blue (Glenfabe Kenny x Capree Kayleen) running a 98.3. 

15 competitors found their way into the Cobber Open Trial Final on Sunday morning and in front of a huge crowd an emotional Robert C Johnston and Shady Acres Zac amassed  a total of 275.5 points over the three rounds to take home the $10,000 winners cheque. Popular seasoned competitor Mr Johnston admitted to nerves in his first round run stating the event was as prestigious as he had attended and was thrilled his home bred dog Shady Acres Zac had taken out the win.  

Robert attended the trial with 6 home bred dogs,  including Shady Acres  Pattie who, interestingly is the mother of the 5 other dogs Robert showed. The 10 year old matriarch is currently sitting second to her daughter Shady Acres Tanya in the NSW point score. Shady Acres Zac is a brother to Shady Acres Jimmy (both from Pattie and by Paul Rowe’s Natel Joker) however there is 12 months separating them.  Although an Open trial winning dog, Robert described Zac as often the bridesmaids at events so was thrilled he had the chance to step up on such a big stage.  

Robert described himself as an accidental dog trialler having entered the sport 11 years ago. Despite growing up at Alstonville near Ballina on the NSW north coast droving and mustering from a young age with his father Ossie Johnston;  it wasn’t until Robert’s son in law a mechanic by trade starting trialling and winning with Robert’s breed of dogs that he became interested. Robert also took home the Hi Point Border Collie buckle and placed 9th and 10th with Jimmy and Pattie respectively. He also purchased a dog lot 51 Atonlea Llano (Munns Jack x Ohutu She Rox n Tri) from Tim Mcvey with the intention to compete at next years Futurity Trial. 

Coming in second was Peter Crowe and Capree Blue (Glenfaba Kenny x Capree Kayleen). Peter took home $2,500 prize money a  trophy buckle and also the trophy buckle for Hi Point Kelpie. Third winning $1,500 was David Bennett, Junction Hill and Benrose Spring. 

The Australian Cow Dog Sale pre works commenced  on Saturday the 4th with 103 dogs being offered for sale. The sale kicked off on Sunday with well over 500 people in attendance. 

Top price Open age dog was lot 6 at $8,000 was Munns Jagger (Munns Glen x Munns Meg) selling to Carter, Lindsay and Webber on account of Kevin Bell, Coonabarabran. $9,000 Top price male was lot 100 Lad on account of Ian Cox with Mr Cox retaining the dog for next years challenge. $11,000 Top price female was lot 98 Craiglea Nell account of Jamie Sturrock, Drillham with Mr Sturrock taking advantage of the vendor buy back and also retaining the dog for next years competition. Other notable sales was lot 76 Asia, on account of R & S Kelaher, a 4 month old pup selling for $3,750 to Beau Mullin, King Island, Tasmania. Lot 14 selling for $8,500 FL Nutz (SA Fudge x Connolly's Pam) account of Rob Hodgman and purchased by RJ & DE Wamsley, Upper Barron Qld. Lot 24 $6,500 Diamantina Smacko (Macs Western x Princess Jille) account of Steven Elliott, Winton and selling to Damien Curr Pittsworth. Buyers were in attendance from Australia wide with bidders registering from from most states including Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia Northern Territory and Tasmania. 

Overall the sale grossed $347,050 with an average of $3,615. Futurity dogs were sold at 100% clearance and there was overall clearance of 93%. The Australian Cow Dog Challenge and Sale committee would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all who supported this sale and challenge and look forwards to building the event to greater heights in 2018 and years to come.