Regular runs from Alexandra to Clyde - much too fast-paced to
be called taking the dog for a walk - paid off for the winner
of the hugely popular Jack Russell race during the Upper
Clutha A&P Show at the Wanaka Showgrounds on Saturday.
Clad in a neon-bright vest, 4-year-old terrier Kate, of
Alexandra, put in an impressive performance to take the hotly
contested title, beating about 65 other canine competitors to
the finish line.
''She's a nutcase,'' Kate's owner Hannah Hutton (10) said of
her energetic pet, after the race.
While Kate had not been on any special training regime
leading up to the race, she often ran alongside Hannah's
father, Mark, on bike rides out to Clyde.
''She's quite fit,'' Mr Hutton observed.
Kate has competed several times in the annual dog dash, which
draws thousands of spectators to the sidelines of the Wanaka
Showgrounds' main ring and is billed by organisers as ''the
most prestigious event in the canine calendar''.
''She had no idea the first year, she was just kind of
running around following the dogs,'' Hannah explained.
Kate's second attempt was more successful, after she grabbed
hold of the hare which baits the dogs and got ''dragged
along'', before she slipped off the prize around the bend
into the home straight and finished third.
In second place on Saturday was Bo, raced by Ava Erickson
(10), of Wanaka, on behalf of her grandparents. Ripley
Platagenet Hutson Custard, owned by Simon Betney, of Wanaka,
finished in third place.
Race marshall Richard Burdon said the race attracted a bigger
field than last year, and had courted the usual controversy
over whether some entrants were genuine Jack Russells or not.
''There's always a couple of impostors ... there was a couple
of [other types of] terriers there but it's always good to
see how they compete,'' Mr Burdon said.
A mass flash mob performed by hundreds of Upper Clutha
primary and secondary schoolchildren immediately before the
race had ''increased the chaos even more'', Mr Burdon said.
The show was held over two days on Friday and Saturday in
sweltering temperatures, which reached 29degC on Friday and
26degC on Saturday, according to MetService data.
Show co-ordinator Jane Stalker believed crowds were slightly
up on the 18,000 people estimated to have attended the
previous two shows.
Despite a huge influx of people into Wanaka, the crowds were
generally well-behaved, Sergeant Aaron Nicholson said.
Four drink-drivers were caught on Friday night, but there
were no other serious incidents dealt with by police.
Mangapoike Ltd won the Beef and Lamb New Zealand ''Golden