|Castle Kennedy played host to sixty men and their dogs – and much more besides – during a major event in September. Crowds in excess of 5000 came to the old airfield at Cults to check out events as the International Sheep Dog Trial 2003 came to Wigtownshire.|
Held over three days, dogs from a number of participating countries competed against each other during trials on the Thursday and Friday. The climax on Saturday saw the 15 top dogs from the previous two days compete for the Supreme Championship title. Despite the international flavour of the event, it was a Scot who finished first. John Wilson from Ashkirk, near Selkirk in the Borders, was overall winner when the scores were finalised. Local interest, competition wise, came from the likes of Duncan Robertson from Gatehouse, Jock Welsh from Ballantrae and Clark Cuthbertson from Thornhill. Another local element was crucial in the success of the trial. Around 400 sheep from Stair Estates’ farms were supplied – giving the dogs and their handlers something to round up!
Arts and crafts tents, as well as trade stalls, meant there was plenty to see and do in addition to the competitive element of the gathering. Little was left locally in the way of accommodations as thousands of spectators descended on Wigtownshire for the event. They came from as far afield as the US, Scandinavia and elsewhere in mainland Europe.
[Above - S Gallagher from Ballymena - Penning with Jan]
R Roper from Gloucester running his pen of sheep
spread of competitors was equally impressive. The length of the UK separated
(from Wick in the far north of Scotland) from another (from Devon in the south west of England.)
Trials’ organisers spoke afterwards of their satisfaction at how events had unfolded.
three days went as well as we could have hoped. Everyone seemed very impressed,”
said Newton Stewart man Sydney Paton, one of those behind the event.
He and his fellow organisers estimate that over 2000 folk gathered to watch the start of the event on the Thursday.
The following day there were around 3000 spectators with crowd levels peaking at almost 5000 on the Saturday.
“Spectator levels could not have better,” said Sydney. “And even the weather behaved itself! It was misty at first with a bit of rain.
But then it cleared up and it was ideal for a sheep dog trial – not too hot and not too cold.”
“This is the first time we have organised such an event locally and we could not have hoped for any more,” he said.
Local boy Stuart McCrindle took part in the ISDS Young Handler award with his dog Kas
P Morgan from Newry with Midge winner of the
Young Handler Award.
– 1 J.H. Wilson, Selkirk, (Maid) 468 points; 2 R. Millichap, Port Talbot,
(Ben)459; 3 M. Shearer, Thurso, (Tib)439; 4 R.Lyon, Denholm, (Ben) 433; 5 S.R.Walton,
Bowness On Windermere, (Dug) 422; 6 C. McGarry, Castle Park, (Clifton Taff) 411;
7 G.B.Jonas, Llangollen, (Jill) 399; 8 P.J.Turnbull, Morpeth, (Sal) 391; 9 A. MacCuish, Skipness, (Mirk) 363; 10 J.R.Brennan, Templemore, (Dunedin) 346;
11 W. Welsh, Dalmellington, (Buff) 343; 12 J.R.Welsh, Ballantrae, (Moel Jock)297.
[Reprinted by the kind permission of the Stranraer & Wigtownshire “Free Press” in which this article appeared on 25September 2003.
Photographs reproduced with the kind permission of Ken Pearson Photography]