Alan Wilkie and Spot were in the running for top spot at two neighbouring Aberdeenshire trials until a run off gave him victory ahead of Cameron Dickson’s Tom at Monymusk on the event’s 50th anniversary. A further run off, next day at Bennachie, put Jerry Ramsay’s Fly first and Spot took second place there.

Both trials were held at the same new venue, although the direction of the drive was reversed for the second day. Well behaved Mule gimmers helped dogs to produce high scoring runs on a slightly downward sloping course, which pulled dogs in at the end, putting the sheep under pressure as the dogs approached and lifted. The close work set the top dogs apart, while others struggled to pen, although with two evenly matched runs leading each trial, both events resorted to rerunning the dogs to find their respective winners.

Alan Wilkie Spot (Mot) (GE Lightfoot’s Cap, E Williams’ Bet) worked smoothly outbye and made a good job of controlling an awkward gimmer on the first leg of the drive. The next leg went well, and careful work put the packet into the pen, with the same sheep playing up again. A good shed finished the run in the lead, only for the final decision to go to a run off.

Cameron Dickson’s Tom (DK Evans’ Ace, U Stromer’s Caefelin Gwen) ran out clean to lift his sheep, and took them smoothly round the course with only very minor wavers. A clean pen and shed completed the run vying for first place, but ultimately giving way to Spot.

At the Bennachie trial, Alan and Spot overtook their previous day’s work, but were still matched by another dog.

Spot worked very well outbye, and the drive was going well until two gimmers stopped to graze on the way across. Spot reunited the packet, drove them through the gate and on to a clean finish and his second run off of the weekend, which placed him second, outrun by Jerry Ramsay's Fly

Fly (M Gallagher’s Cap, DS McAuley’s Gael) ran out and lifted her sheep flawlessly and took them up to Jerry on a good line, and although she found them a little harder to turn round Jerry’s feet, she got them round and away on to a very good drive. A clean pen and shed completed the run that eventually led to first place.

Suffolk cross Mule gimmers ran very well on an uphill course at a new venue at Kelso, but they were not easily seen by the dogs as they ran out for their sheep and the cross drive gate was difficult for handlers to judge.

Ross Henderson’s Jude (RB Henderson’s Glen, D Wallace’s Jen) had no difficulty on her outrun, but lifted slightly offline, which affected the start of her fetch. The rest of the fetch went well and a good drive followed, although the turn out of the cross drive gate was wide. An excellent pen and shed set the seal on the winning run with a closely packed list, hot on Jude’s heels.

Andy Carnegie was in good form at Cashlie taking first and second places with Linburn Rook and Jess respectively.

The Cheviot gimmers ran well on a green, hill course and Rook (M McTeir’s Bob, C Kirkland’s Groesfaen Jill) worked very well outbye, with only a waver of the line at the start of the fetch against him. With a good drive and good close work, he finished five points of second placed kennelmate, Jess (J McGinn’s Mozz and Tess).

At Walkerburn, Julie Hill’s Bec led with a well paced run round the course.

Well behaved cross gimmers ran on a flat field, where a dip at the far end created a blind spot for the dogs and a wood to the right of the course created an echo which impaired with their hearing. They stuck together at the shed and were not keen to be separated, but most dogs managed to pen. Handlers found the cross drive gate hard to judge, so many packets were too high and slipped by the gate.

Bec (RB Henderson’s Skid, J Hill’s Molly) ran out well, but lifted slightly offline which affected the start of the fetch, but soon had the sheep on line and completed her fetch. She made good work of the drive, moving the sheep round the course at a good pace, never letting them stop, as some packets wanted to, and made an exceptionally good cross drive. Julie and Bec took a little time to pen, but with no breaks and a clean shed, they completed their winning run.

Clipped Blackie hoggs ran well all day on a big hill course at a new venue at Sanquhar with a 650yd outrun.The course went down, over a burn and out on to a steep, green face, so directing the dogs out to their sheep proved to be a challenge.

Kevin McCullough’s Cap (F McCullough’s Craig, J McGinn’s Mozz) responded to two whistles to reach his sheep and achieved one of the best outruns of the day. He lifted slightly offline, and soon had the sheep on line and under good control. He fetched well, and when the packet stopped on their turn round Kevin, Cap was quick to get them moving on to a very good drive. A clean pen followed, and with time on his mind, Kevin took the first chance he saw to shed; it was not the smoothest of sheds, but the hoggs were shed and Cap earned first place.

Good Blackface hoggs, fresh from the hill, ran well at Roro. The flat, national sized course made it hard for dogs to see them in the distance, while rain fell throughout the day. The close work proved testing, even for the winner.

Michael Gallagher’s Dalriada Arya (A Owen’s Llangwm Cap, M Gallagher’s Val) ran out and lifted flawlessly, and put the sheep straight through the fetch gate. The first leg of Arya’s drive was one of the best of the day, with her keeping the sheep under full control and the cross drive continued well. Arya held her side well at pen, while the hoggs wanted to break, and with patience the packet was secured. At the shed, again, patience was needed. The hoggs wanted to break to the exhaust, but when an opportunity arose, Michael called Arya into a gap, she responded and took first place, well ahead of the field.

LEADING awards

Bennachie (Judge: AD Carnegie, Comrie). Open – 62 ran – 1, J Ramsay’s Fly, Ollaberry, 97 Run off; 2, A Wilkie’s Spot (Mot), Glenmoy, 97; 3, A Olofsson’s Craig, Alyth, 94; 4, B Smith’s Chip (Flash), Dunrossness, 92; 5, B Smith’s Lass, Dunrossness, 91; 6, I Wilkie’s Pip, Tillypronie, 90; Local – 1, I Wilkie’s Pip, Tillypronie, 90.

Monymusk (Judge: A Olofsson, Alyth). Open – 60 ran – 1, A Wilkie’s Spot (Mot), Glenmoy, 95 Run off; 2, C Dickson’s Tom, Coldingham, 95; 3, E Nilsson’s Midderry Kid, Balintore, 94; 4, J MacKillop's Zac, Fort Augustus, 91 outbye; 5, I Wilkie’s Pip, Tillypronie, 91; 6, J Allan’s Ellie, Mt Benger, 90.

Kelso (Judge: D Wallace, Blyth Bridge). Open – 72 ran – 1, R Henderson’s Jude, Crawford, 94; 2, D Robertson’s Joe, Langholm, 93 outbye; 3, N McVicar’s Baledmund Pete, Benmore, 93; 4, M McTeir’s Mak, Corsock, 91; 5, RB Henderson’s Bob, Heriot, 89 outbye; 6, L Hinneken’s K’eira, Quothquan, 89;

Cashlie (Judge: J MacDougall, Drymen) Open – 52 ran – 1, AD Carnegie’s Linburn Rook, Comrie, 94; 2, AD Carnegie’s Jess, Comrie, 89; 3, AD MacKenzie’s Jess, Lochearnhead, 85 Outbye; 4, SL Davidson’s Kyle, Sandbank, 85; 5, W Welsh’s Cap, Dalcairney, 84; 6, I Fleming’s Glen, Douglas, 80.

Walkerburn (Judge: A Wilson, Clovenford). Open – 52 ran – 1, J Hill’s, Bec, Heriot, 94; 2, A Stewart’s Jim, Lockerbie, 92 Outbye; 3, RB Henderson’s Bonnie, Heriot, 92; 4, A Stewart’s Malta Mollie, Lockerbie, 91; 5, M Arres’ Doug, Ashkirk, 89 Outbye; 6, L Hinneken’s Zorg, Quothquan, 89; Young Handler – T McKinlay’s King, Coulter, 78.

Ulzieside, Sanquhar (Judge: C Armstrong, Archbank). Open – 46 ran – 1, K McCulloch’s Cap, Ballynahinch, 94 /110; 2, SL Davidson’s Maid, Sandbank, 92; 3, R Henderson’s Jude, Crawford, 83; 4, D Robertson’s Joe, Langholm, 82; 5, JR Welsh’s Sonny, Dalrymple, 81; 6, N Gillon’s Boss, Barr, 79.

Roro (Judge: C Balmbro, Lilburn). Open – 62 ran – 1, M Gallagher’s Dalriada Arya, Connachan, 84; 2, AD Carnegie’s Jess, Comrie, 77 Outbye; 3,W Welsh’s Cap, Dalcairney, 77; 4, M Davidson’s Angus, Lilburn, 76; 5, A Olofsson’s Templehall Fred, Alyth,74; 6, P Martin’s Daisy, Glenlyon, 72.