NSW farmer Paul Darmody nearly didn't enter in the National Sheepdog Trials in Strathalbyn, South Australia, this past week, as the event clashed with his daughter having a baby.
But the decision to compete - after gaining his wife and daughter's blessing - was definitely made worthwhile, with his border collie Zeefree Troy winning Supreme Australian Sheepdog Champion on Sunday.
The well-known dog handler from Bungendore, NSW, who is also the current patron of the Australian Working Sheepdog Association, won the open event on 216 points ahead of runner-up Pip Hudson, NSW, with border collie Hudson's Darby on 189.5 points, and Bill Davidson, NSW, with border collie Wirchilleba Stormy in third on 185.5 points.
A long-time supporter of the Australian Supreme, Mr Darmody said he never thought he'd see the day that he won the big prize - ironically a trophy he donates to the competition.
"This is the greatest honour in dog trialing, it is the ultimate and I am very proud to have won it with an old bloody mongrel dog!" he said.
Seven-year-old Zeefree Troy was given to him by fellow dog trainer Laurie Slater "a couple of years ago".
"He wasn't working the dog, and he knew that I liked him. He'd be rapt to see this dog win," Mr Darmody said.
After many decades competing in dog trials, travelling "across Australia six times over", Mr Darmody said it wasn't necessarily "the winning that mattered the most".
"It's the mateship that keeps me coming back," he said.
"I am also very excited about the young people coming through the industry, which will help to continue the legacy of dog trialing to the level that we competed at today."
The Dogpro Plus Supreme Australian Working Sheepdog Championship was run at the Strathalbyn Oval from September 9-17, with 70 entrants from every Australian state competing.
Eileen Moriarty, Jingera, NSW, took out both the improver and novice sections with border collie Riverbourne Fran, while the Ted Gaby Perpetual Trophy Interstate Challenge was won by the SA team of Stefan Cross, with Echo Park Lady, and Tom Joyce, with Oakdowns Sammy, on 499 points.
The NSW team of Pip Flower with Flowers Fang and Peter Oxley with Rivlin Caesar came second on 484.75 points, with these four interstate challengers then announced as the Australian team for the 2023 Trans-Tasman Test at the Ashburton Show in New Zealand on October 27-28.
Martin Waddinham, Tas, qualified for the team, but was unavailable for the trip to NZ, paving the way for Ms Flower, who is only the second female to ever make the team, and the youngest.
She said she was excited to be the first woman to represent Australia in NZ.
1. Paul Darmody/Zeefree Troy 216
2. Pip Hudson/Hudson's Darby 189.5
3. Bill Davidson/Wirchilleba Stormy 185.5
4. Ken Jelbart/Evlyngra Vern 185
5. Barry Knight/Fiesta Jane 180
6. Ken Atherton/Ramulam Charlie
7. Jim O'Connell/Flowers Griffin
8. Tom Joyce/Keilira Boon
9. David Lacey/Akoonah Blondie
10. Milton Cross/Andrina Floss
1. Eileen Moriarty/Riverbourne Fran 110
2. David Lacey/Akoonah Lilly 74.5
3. Rhonda O'Connell/Camara Quilpie 71.5
4. Paul Darmody/Annaway Digger
5. Barry Knight/Knights Frank
1. Eileen Moriarty/Riverbourne Fran 170
2. Linda Dening/Riverbourne Jeorgie 132
3. Sarah Sydrych/Wattleview Pip 111
4. Allan Leech/Trapline Heidi
5. Leigh Foster/Balla Park Chloe
TED GABY INTERSTATE CHALLENGE
1. SA 499 points
2: NSW 484.75 points
3. Tas 474.75 points
4. Qld 472.5 points
5. WA 454.75 points
6. Vic 451.5 points
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