Supreme effort by Geoff and Dusty

Report and photos Bob GarnantCountryman

Dogs and competitors from WA and other States battled for honours in the 2011 Australian Supreme Sheep Dog Championship held at Dowerin recently.

The national event, hosted by the WA Working Sheep Dog Association (WAWSDA), was the fourth time the supreme had been held in WA since its inception in 1990.

This year, 47 competitors participated, including 29 from WA, and a total of 170 dogs were put through their paces against three sheep in attempts to herd the woollies around an obstacle course on the Dowerin football oval.

The register of past supreme champions includes the country's eight-time winner, Greg Prince, of Dubbo, New South Wales, who took his Border Collie, Princess Zoe, to three of those wins.

Although the champions list only includes one WA winner, Doug Connop and his dog Glenview Feesha who won in 1995, WAWSDA president Andrew Gorton said the State was always in the running for another victory, especially with the supreme coming to WA every sixth year.

Dowerin added a new name to the supreme winner's list this year, Geoff Gibson, of Warwick, Queensland, and dog Dusty.

Mr Gibson, who has been attending dog trials since 1985, said there were now many more trained dogs to heat up the competition.

He made the trip across the Nullarbor in 1997 and won the improver event with his dog, Peaches, when the supreme was held on the Esplanade in Perth.

"A successful trials dog must be able to read and understand stock," Mr Gibson said.

At Dowerin, Mr Gibson said the sheep, which were supplied by local farmers W. Emmot and Sons, were tough and Dusty sealed the win at the difficult bridge passing.

The best placed WA competitor was Ivan Solomon, of Brookton, and his dog, Sasha, who finished seventh.

Mr Solomon said his Border Collie was WA dog of the year in 2010.

Mr Gibson also won the novice event with his other dog Smokey and WA competitor Frank Sutherland was fourth with Chick in that event.

The Interstate Challenge, consisting of two competitors from each State, was won by Mr Gibson and Dusty who were paired with fellow Queenslander Jim O'Connell and his dog Atom.

First-time winner of the Improver award was Rhonda O'Connell, of Winton, Queensland, with her Kelpie, Shade.

Dowerin events management chairman Philip Metcalf said it was great to see every man, woman and their dogs visit the town's first supreme championships.

"Visitors came from all parts of the State and country, even a few from overseas," Mr Metcalf said.

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