Moss set to roll

Danella BevisThe West Australian

With a rich pedigree in working dogs and years of trialling experience in tow, Grant Cooke and his border collie Grass Valley Moss will represent Australia on one of sheepdog trialling's biggest stages next year.

It is the second time in seven years the WA Working Sheepdog Association president will compete at the annual Wayleggo Cup, in Lake Taupo, New Zealand.

A team of Australia's four competitors, of which Moss is the highest ranking, will go head to head with New Zealand's four best sheepdogs in the Trans-Tasman competition in November 2015.

Mr Cooke, who runs between 5000 and 6000 sheep and a 1300ha cropping program at Grass Valley alongside wife Linda, brother Angus and families, has had plenty of experience with working dogs in the past.

Mr Cooke's mother, Anne, and grandparents, John and Margaret Bushell, ran the well-known Trelawney Kelpie Stud out of Northam for close to 50 years.

Mr Cooke's dog, Grass Valley Lisa, represented Australia at the same competition in 2007, and in an interesting turn of events, Moss just happens to be Lisa's last pup.

"It's not an easy task to represent your country," he said.

"It's very competitive and the skill level is quite phenomenal."

When it comes to training, Mr Cooke said it was all about quality rather than quantity and depended on the working traits each dog already possessed.

"Moss is quite an eye-y dog. He basically just takes control. He's very natural and he's always been quite an easy dog," Mr Cooke said.

"He never overworks his stock, has good walk-up, good strength and he's always been an old dog on younger shoulders, even in his youth."

Mr Cooke said he was proud and honoured by the prospect of representing Australia alongside Moss.

"To have bred him and trained him and now to have got to the highest level in our sport, it's a very proud moment," he said.

"It's the pinnacle of our sport and there's a lot of pressure, because you know the competition is fierce and you need a bit of luck.

"But it is fantastic. I'm very patriotic and there'll be nothing more thrilling than to beat the New Zealanders in New Zealand."

Mr Cooke and Moss were among some of the best in the sheepdog business to show off their skills during sheepdog demonstrations at the IGA Perth Royal Show last week.

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