A smooth and controlled run gave Ian Brownlie’s Maid a comfortable lead on a testing day at Birthwood.

The weather was reasonably kind given conditions prevailing over the recent weeks, but sharp snow showers told handlers that the respite was transitory.

The Blackface hoggs needed dogs to give them space, but were not keen on the route of the course.

The field ran uphill into a narrow corner which made it tight for dogs to approach the sheep and lift them calmly, and that resulted in some packets running on.

There were no gates on the fetch, but quite a few packets went offline there anyway, while others attempted to avoid the scenario, preferring to head up along the top fence.

Maid (D McTier’s Bob, A Sim’s Flo) ran out and lifted well and made a good fetch for the day, with just a slight wiggle of the line. The drive went smoothly, with minor deviations and a clean pen and a good shed set the seal on the winning run by a clear margin.

Laura Hinneken’s Zorg (M Shearer’s Jim, L Hinnekens’ K’Eira) ran out well, but the hoggs ran at his approach.

Zorg lifted them, brought them onto line and made a good fetch.

His drive was good, and although the line of the cross drive was high, Zorg turned them neatly down, through the gate.

At the pen, one awkward hogg brought out Zorg’s pushy side, causing the hoggs to burst from the gate, spoiling an otherwise good run.

Although he eventually penned, Zorg was still on full alert at the shed, and the hoggs were unsettled by it; despite that, he made a decent shed and finished in second place with as big a gap behind him as before him.

In the novice section, Kelly Blackwood’s Hank (GC Gardner’s Moss, K Blackwod’s Jill) ran out and lifted well, taking account of the fact that his sheep ran off at the top, but Hank took some time to bring them back on line.

The drive did not go well, but Kelly salvaged what she could, and Hank took the sheep across the second leg and through the cross drive gate. A clean pen and a very good shed completed the winning novice run.

As trialling winds down for lambing, and the nursery season draws to its close, Scotland is finalising arrangements for the Scottish Nursery Final at Meikleholme, Dumfriesshire on March 6.

Meanwhile, there is time for cross border challenges on mainland UK and across the Irish Sea, and England has decided its national nursery champion.

LEADING awards

Birthwood (Judge: W Welsh, Dalmellington). Nursery – 17 ran – 1, IM Brownlie’s Maid, Deuchrie, 84; 2, L Hinneken’s Zorg, Quothquan, 77; 3, RB Henderson’s Bob, Heriot, 70; 4, J Hill’s, Ben, Heriot, 68; 5, I Fleming’s Torr, Douglas, 67; 6, I Fleming’s Glen, Douglas, 65; 7, K Blackwood’s Hank, Abington, 63; 8, GC Gardner’s Bonnie, Lesmahagow, 62; 9, IM Brownlie’s Bob, Deuchrie, 60; 10, T McKinlay’s Ben, Coulter, 56. Novice – 1, K Blackwood’s Hank, Abington, 63; 2, R Reid’s Taff, Carnwath, 57; 3, T McKinlay’s Ben, Coulter, 56; 4, M McColm’s Sky, Leadhills, 45.

Hutton in the Forest Cross Border challenge (Judge: RJ Hutchinson, Littledale). Nursery bounce – three teams of 10 ran – 1, D Mitchell’s Pip, New Luce 88/100 (Wigtownshire); 2 R Harrison’s Sky, Shap, 87 (North Westmorland); 3, A Foster’s Jack, Windermere, 85 (NW); 4, J Bentham’s Kim, Windermere, 84 outbye (NW); 5, D Scrimgeour’s Jim, Wigton, 84 outbye (NW); 6 JW Common’s Jimmy, Lockerbie, 84 (Dumfries and Galloway). Teams – (Border Shield) 1, North Westmorland 750; 2, Dumfries and Galloway, 646; 3, Wigtonshire, 644.

Glenkiln, Arran (Judge: L Robertson, Machrie). Nursery I – two ran – 1, W Stevenson’s Arran McLeod, Whiting Bay, 84; 2, E Bone’s Arran Mac, Arran, 47. Nursery II – two ran – 1, W Stevenson’s Arran McLeod, Whiting Bay,77. Older dogs (Judge: W Stevenson, Whiting Bay) – eight ran – 1, I McConnell’s Sam, Lamlash, 74; 2, S Murchie’s Buffy, Torbeg, 73; 3, M McNeish’s Pip, Sliddery, 69; 4, N McMaster’s Gail, Bennan, 62.

English nursery final (Judges: M Longton, Quernmore; M Watson, Tadcaster). Places – 1, M Hutchinson’s Shadwell Sophie, Littledale 177/200; 2, S Perello’s Shadwell Jey, Lancs., 165; 3, R Saxon’s Nell, Glossop, 161 outbye; 4, P Mellin’s Jen, Oakworth, 161; 5, A Ledgar’s Luna, Macclesfield, 159; 6, F Richards’ Lloyd Bee, Saltash, 151; 7, S Procter’s Bronalt Nan, 147; 8, A Smart’s Flo, Northleach, 145; 9, J Bentham’s Kym, Windermere, 143 outbye; 10, J Watson’s Gary, Postbridge, 143.

Irish nursery championship – 1, T Lambe’s Bruce, 171; 2, L Conn’s Tess, 168; N McDevitt’s Sweep, 164; 4, B Reid’s Bill, 162; 5, C Byrne’s Maid, 154; 6, N O’Keefe’s Tina, 153; 7, D Mullaney’s Dan, 152; Team – North.

Hamsteel Hall Inter-club ((Judge: E Procter). Two teams of 14 ran – 1, P Turnbull’s Deb, Debdon, 95; 2 E Gray’s Megan, Great Elsdon, 92; 3, A Hunter’s Sid, 92; 4, S Procter’s Nan, 91; 5, H Svobodova’s Wicky, Halbankgate, 90; 6, F Satterthwaite’s Tweed, Kirkby Lonsdale, 90; Northumberland, 1023; North England, 986.