Back-to-back wins for southern duo

Last month, Paul Collins and Sky won the national long head sheepdog trials title for the second...
Last month, Paul Collins and Sky won the national long head sheepdog trials title for the second year in succession. PHOTO: ROXANNE COLLINS
South Otago’s Sky shone bright in Taranaki, at the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trials recently.

Sky, a 7-year-old heading dog, and her owner, sheep and beef farmer and Tahatika Collie Club member Paul Collins, won the 2024 national long head competition, defending the title they won last year at home in Warepa.

A miserable mix of wind, cloud and drizzle made Mt Taranaki invisible to competitors as they moved Romney sheep across four courses in isolated Mangamingi, near Eltham, from May 27-31.

"It took three days to get there," Mr Collins, who also had two huntaway dogs qualify for events, said.

"They’d been buggered up by the cyclones and hurricanes so they did really well to have the trials.

"Sky’s a good bitch. She’s been around the competition a few times.

"That experience makes it a bit easier now, so she does most of it and I stand there doing nothing," he joked.

"The first round, you run off for the North Island champs where we came second, then the top seven run off for New Zealand and we ended up winning that.

"Each dog gets two cracks ... It’s an aggregate of the runs added together."

The duo scored 190.50 for the long head.

Winning the same event in back-to-back years is rare in sheepdog trials.

"To be honest, not in your wildest dreams do you think you’re going to win back-to-back titles so heading up there I didn’t even think I had a chance, and that probably took the pressure off a wee bit."

Mr Collins and Sky were also selected as reserves in the 2024 New Zealand transtasman test team who will defend the Wayleggo Cup in Geelong in September.

Other southern shepherds with respectable results were Waihemo’s Lloyd Smith and Greenvale’s Brian Dickison, second and third in the long head, respectively, and Robbie Calder of Becks, Central Otago, who placed second in the straight hunt and third in the North Island championships.

The 2025 South Island and New Zealand Championships will be at at Lochiel Station in Hanmer Springs in May next year.