Not only did Kevin Evans win his fourth International Supreme Championship, this year with Hybeck Blake, at Shandford farm, Brechin, which provided the most challenging course for an international trial in living memory, but he also won the Brace Championship with Derwen Doug and Knockmaa Bec, the previous day.

His four supreme championships put him on a par with fellow Welshman, Aled Owen’s career highlight, but at a far younger age, and so, leaving the door open for further successes in his phenomenal career. The combination of supreme and brace championship was last achieved by John Templeton in 1972.

Kevin said: “That’s the hardest course I’ve ever run on and Blake ran his heart out. I’m very pleased with him.”

The cross Texel ewes were consistently good, but they were out of sight of the dog for most of the outrun while dogs were often unseen by their handler on the outrun; on the supreme fetch sheep and dog could be hidden.

The qualifying trial followed the pattern of nationals, ending with a shed, pen and single, while the supreme course was extended so that two packets of sheep were 800 yards from the handler.

Dogs ran out and fetched the left packet down, left them and turned back to the right for the second lot, brought them down, united the two lots, drove them across the course between two sets of gates, shed 15 plain sheep off and penned the remaining five marked sheep.

The big, open hill of long, rough grass and rushes, had a ditch running across the ground above an area of green grass, surrounded by more rough ground to both sides. To the right, part of a fence, running up the course had been removed and the sheep were reluctant to cross the untrodden line that remained, to go through the cross drive gate in the qualifying round.

Beyond that, another fence, running across, had been removed to let dogs reach their second packet in the supreme. To the left, a hollow before the first drive gate seemed to deter the sheep in the qualifier. In the supreme, the first outrun was to the left and many dogs crossed below the sheep, totally hidden from their view.

Kevin’s Hybeck Blake (S van der Sweep, T Bramley’s Fan) cut in on his outrun, but with whistles from Kevin, he found his sheep and lifted cleanly, but the fetch was sticky. Blake turned back well and worked well from there with a near perfect drive. Kevin shed well, chasing the reject sheep away at speed and hurried to the pen, and with the five ewes lined up at the mouth of the pen, the bell rang and time ran out, but with good work achieved, the pair earned 504 /680.

Scottish judge, Willie Todd said: “Kevin is a master handler; once he had the sheep, Blake worked well on the course. It is just unfortunate that the championship was won with an unfinished run, as so many of the runs were in the supreme.”

In the brace, Derwen Doug (Tanhill Glen, Derwen Blue) ran to the left, but was wide at the top, and Kevin called her down. Knockmaa Bec (Tanhill Glen, Knockmaa Dot) ran out nicely to the right, waited for Doug and the pair lifted together. The shed went well, but the first pen was harder to achieve and the discards were threatening to rejoin the packet being penned. Time ran out before they had the chance to reach their own pen.

Scotland got off to a good start in the qualifying round, with John MacKillop and Zak (C Davidson’s Cap, SL Davidson’s Gillieglen Queen) opening the trial with a steady run which eventually qualified for the supreme and finished sixth overall.

Zak was immediately eclipsed by Kevin’s Hybeck Blake, but in the next round, David Murray’s Sweep (J McGee's Silver and S McManus' Nell) took the lead on 338, a place he held until seven runs later, James McLaughlin’s Dan (D Scrimgeour’s Killiebrae Laddie, J Dyke’s Killiebrae Lyn) produced the winning run of the qualifying trial on 400 points.

In the next round, Neil Gillon’s (Sweep) Shweep (N Gillon’s Bhoy, S McCrindle’s Peg) moved into second place.

Saturday was quite windy, to which a surprising number of outdoor folk objected!

On the field, Scotland again opened on a hopeful note, with Billy Common’s Grit (DK Evans’ Spot, DC Meek’s Queen) following Shweep into third place with 372 points. Wales followed, with A Llyr Evans’s Zac (G Owen’s Zac, J Evans’ Bell) qualifying on 336 points, but from there, a lull of 17 runs followed until John Maginn’s Kate (JF Maginn’s Mozz and Tess) notched up 356. Last to qualify, but certainly not least, was Ricky Hutchinson’s Jock (RJ Hutchinson’s Sweep, IM Brownie’s Mo) on 296 points.

The brace was completed at midday and George Gardner’s Meg (C Smart’s Guy & Fly) and Nan (M MacNally’s Killiebrae Moss, GC Gardner’s Meg) were runners up to Kevin’s Derwen Doug and Knockmaa Bec.

Scotland’s performance won the team competition on the aggregate of the top 12 dogs and the 15 qualified for the supreme included five Scottish entries.

Ireland was well represented with the James McLaughlin’s Dan winning the qualifying, Michael Gallagher winning the driving competition with Val (M Gallagher’s Highcliff Todd, C McNaughton’s Mist) and the rising star, Sam Fagan winning the young handler’s competition with Quories Craig (D Branam’s Nip, MJ McNaught’s Quories Moxy).

During the supreme interval, Isobel McInally accepted the Wilkinson Sword for services to sheepdogs, awarded posthumously to her late husband, Robert McInally, an ISDS director for 35 years and a former Scottish president who died last year.

In the supreme, Irwel Evans’ Gwnnws Bob (IL Evans Jim & Jess) continued the winning streak for Wales.

Bob achieved the best outbye work of the day, with two outstanding outruns on the extremely difficult terrain. His second fetch was not tidy, but his drive was good. Irwel had to restart his shed after the reject sheep regrouped and time ran out before the job was completed, but with such a good start, he finished in second place on 444 points.

A young bitch, not yet two-years-old, made a big impression under the severe conditions.

James McGee’s Jess (J McGee’s Glencregg Silver, D Mullaney’s Nan) followed her commands and found her sheep, lifted cleanly and fetched them well. She was a little hesitant to turn back for more, but found them, lifted, and fetched them down quite nicely, considering the rough terrain. Her drive was good, and although time ran out at the shed, she earned third place with 436 points.

Final run of the trial, Ricky Hutchinson’s Jock (RJ Hutchinson’s Sweep, IM Brownie’s Mo) came in below his sheep, turned out on command, but then ran out and over the top of the hill, out of all contact for a time.

When he reappeared on the skyline, he came down to his sheep, lifted them nicely and brought them speeding down and through the middle of the fetch gates.

His turn back was excellent, but on the fetch, the sheep came too far left, along the top of the ditch and eventually ran by the left side of the fetch gates.

The first packet had strayed and the join up was untidy, but Ricky hurried Jock across the drive with the sheep, turned them in to both gates, and on to the shedding ring. After a struggle, with ewes going out of the ring, he finally penned five collared sheep cleanly and received a round of rapturous applause for one of only two completed runs, ranked fourth on 416 points.

James Howard’s Lad (J Howard’s Wisp, W Mellor’s Lassie) crossed his course, but once turned out, lifted nicely. Conscious of time, he fetched the sheep down a sheep path rather than through rough ground, and emerged at a stony bank, midway across the course, but got his sheep through the gate.

Lad turned back and James stopped him behind the sheep and then brought him on, he brought the sheep straight down and reached the outlying field farther out than the line dictated, and slipped by the fetch gate.

His drive went well with good turns, although he was low on the cross drive. James peeled the 15 plain sheep off in big batches and kept the job so calm, and both he and Lad well placed so neither target sheep nor discards wanted to leave the ring.

One ewe broke to the right at the mouth of the pen and another tried to go left, but Lad secured the packet and completed his run, the first of the day to do so. With 376 points the run was placed fifth.

Running Zak as first dog of the day, John MacKillop had no benefit of seeing how dogs or sheep were likely to behave.

Zak (C Davidson’s Cap, SL Davidson’s Gillieglen Queen) turned well in on his first outrun, but John corrected him and he lifted from the proper side. He fetched the sheep down the rough ground and through the fetch gate. He turned back with encouragement from John and lifted well, but he missed his fetch gate. The drive went well, although the line of the cross drive wavered. Zak worked well at the shed, but John was chasing the 15th sheep out of the shedding ring, when a collared ewe rejoined, forcing a restart which was cut short by the bell, but with 328 points the run finished the day in sixth place.

Kevin Evans pulled off a tremendous feat, at Dromore, Co.Down, (on Saturday) in becoming the first Welsh handler to win the International Supreme championship and reserve with 2016 International champion Preseli Ci, and Ace, respectively.

Ricky Hutchinson achieved the double for England, with additional National, qualifying and brace successes, in 2017, with his Jock and Sweep.

Qualifying -

1, J McLaughlin's Dan 306925 Ireland 400 /440; 2, DN Gillon's Sweep 317704 Scotland 392; 3, JW Common's Grit 330775 Scot 372; 4, JF Magginn's Kate 320267 Ire 356; 5, DJ Murray's Sweep 353136 Scot 338; 6, AL Evans' Zac 309467 Wales 335; 7, RFM Ellis' Tod 352010 Wales 323; 8, JP McGee Jess 359831 Ire 317; 9, JS Howard Lad 343138 England 315; 10, FW Shennan's Spot 336752 Scot 305; 11, M Feeney's Bob 322853 Ire 304; 12, IL Evans' Gwnnws Bob 314152 Wales 300; 13, DK Evans' Hybeck Blake 327335 Wales 298; 14, RJ Hutchinson's Jock 327212 Eng 296; 15, JA MacKillop's Zak 344081 Scot 289.

Supreme -

1, DK Evans, Hybeck Blake 327335 Wales 504 /680; 2, IL Evans, Gwnnws Bob 314152 Wales 444; 3, JP McGee, Jess 359831 Ireland 436; 4, RJ Hutchinson, Jock 327212 England 416; 5, JS Howard, Lad 343138 Eng 376; 6, JA MacKillop, Zak 344081Scotland 328; 7, FW Shennan, Spot 336752 Scot 320; 8, DN Gillon, Sweep 317704 Scot 312; 9, JF Magginn, Kate 320267 Ire 304; 10, M Feeney, Bob 322853 Ire 272; 11, AL Evans, Zac 309467 Wales 204; 12, JW Common, Grit 330775 Scot 80 Ret; 13, DJ Murray, Sweep 353136 Scot 32 Ret; 14, J McLaughlin, Dan 306925 Ire DQ; 15, RFM Ellis, Tod 352010 Wales DQ.

Team – Scotland 3441pts;

Driving – M Gallagher Val 340877 Ireland;

Young handler – S Fagan, Quories Craig 344777, Ireland

Qualifying – J McLaughlin Dan, Ireland;

Supreme – DK Evans with Hybeck Blake.

Brace DK Evans with Derwen Doug 339527 and Knockmaa Bec 345695.