Canines set to rule the day at Koroit Sheepdog Trials

SOME of the best competitors from around the country will converge on Victoria Park today for the start of the Koroit Sheepdog Trials.

The trials are operated by champion Koroit sheepdog worker Barry Paton in partnership with the Koroit Cricket Club.

This is the fourth year the Koroit Sheepdog Trials have been run and Mr Paton is expecting a big week.

“We have about 30 workers coming down from across Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales,” Mr Paton said.

“In that number we have some of the best sheepdog workers in Australia, so the quality of competitors is really high.”

More than 220 entries have been received for the competition, which features open, novice and improver sections.

Heading the list of competitors are national champions Greg Prince and Jim Dodge, while Simpson’s Maurice Burke will carry a lot of the hopes for the Western District.

Mr Burke has been working sheepdogs for the past eight years and has placed in a number of big trials, including the Australian Championships.

Now a semi-retired farmer, Mr Burke has followed a different path to many other competitors in training his dogs.

“A lot of sheepdogs are bred for competition but my dogs have always been working farm dogs as well,” he said. “I think it helps that the dogs are also working. It allows their natural instincts to come out and it is just a matter of focusing that the right way.”

Mr Burke said he has been fortunate to have learnt a lot from champion sheepdog workers such as Dodge, Paton and the late Ross Dodge.

Mr Burke has attended every Koroit Sheepdog Trials and is excited to be back again.

“Koroit is a wonderful trial and Barry has done a great job getting it up and running,” he said.

The Koroit Sheepdog Trials will run until 7pm daily until Sunday, with entry by gold coin donation.

On Friday night a fish ’n’ chips tea and trivia night will be held.

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