Allan Common was in good form, taking first and second places at Crossdykes with Wyverne Glen and Shep, respectively, where the South Country Cheviot ewes tested the young dogs over a slightly rising course on a wet and windy day recently.

Wyverne Glen (DK Evans’ Dan, DC Meek’s Wyverne Meg) started to come in on his outrun, but responded well to Allan’s redirection. Glen lifted smoothly and had a good fetch.

He worked the sheep at a good pace and took a good line down the first leg of the drive and safely through the gate, with a tight turn. The cross drive went well, although the turn out of the gates was wide. A clean pen and shed set the seal on the winning run.

Allan’s Shep (R Games’ Caefelin Glen, R Groucott’s Penywern Nell) had a near perfect outrun and lift, a very good fetch, turned the sheep neatly round Allan and made a good start to the drive. Difficulty set in on the way across and the ewes missed the gate and became unsettled in the process, causing them to spoil their cross drive and miss another gate. Once Shep had them under control for the close work, a good pen and shed completed the working second place.

A perfect outrun gave Michael Shearer’s 13-month-old Rab the edge at the first nursery trial of the season, at Mey in Caithness.

The Cheviot ewe lambs could be flighty, especially if dogs upset them at the lift, where they waited in a hollow, sometimes unseen by the dogs. The lambs tended to drift from line at the top of the field and it was hard for the nursery dogs to put them back on line.

Re-run in the later part of the day, far from being more co-operative as is usually the case, they became wiser and more determined to outsmart the youngsters, particularly at the pen.

Rab (T Coghill Robertson’s Dahl and Dot) ran out on a good line and stopped on the mark. He lifted calmly, but the line of the first part of the fetch weaved before the sheep eventually manged to slip by the gate.

Michael and Rab settled them from there and Rab showed great responsiveness to every command from Michael and together they achieved the best drive of the day.

The lambs were determined not to be penned and stuck together at the shed, but Michael kept his cool and worked patiently with Rab to make a clean pen and let the sheep settle until the time was right for Rab to complete the winning run with a clean shed.

Ian Sutherland’s Moss (P Byrne’s Moss, D Mulaney’s Nan) ran out very well to his sheep, although his lift was rushed. Despite his hurried start continuing on the fetch, Moss put his sheep though the gate and worked well on the drive, until approaching the cross drive gate a little high, he overflanked and pushed them below the line of the gate so they missed that obstacle.

Another clean pen and shed completed the work in close contention to Rab’s but giving way on outbye work.

The following weekend, a steady run at a good pace, gave Scott Macauley’s Dalriada Bess a comfortable lead at Tigh na Blair.

The Blackface ewes ran well, over a flat field on a lovely day, but they were not keen on the chute and could be tricky to separate at the shed.

Bess (A Owen’s Llangwym Cap, M Gallagher’s Val) ran out clean to the top, lifted nicely and fetched very well. Her drive was good, with just minor wavers and a good chute followed. The shed was not quite so smooth and took a little time, but once it was completed, fine work achieved on the course ensured first place was secure, with no contender threatening the lead.

Steven Alexander’s Flo (AD Carnegie’s Linburn Rook, C Maitland Gardner’s Nell) took a whistle on her way out, but reached her sheep. She lifted well and had a good fetch, although she made a wide turn round Steven’s feet.

The ewes squiggled off line before they finally went through the first drive gate, but went across and through the cross drive gates without further problem. A good chute and single completed the run in second place.

A run-off gave Ian Sutherland’s Foinaven Drift the lead over Geordie Simpson’s Gin at Strathnaver.

The NCC ewes ran well there, if given a measure of space, but could bolt under pressure, and the tight corner at the top of the flat field meant that there was little room for negotiation as the dog came upon the sheep at the end of the outrun.

Foinaven Drift (D Aitken’s Tweeddale Buzz, K Keith’s Nordevind Lyn) ran out and lifted very well, and although he had minor wavers on the fetch, he got his gate and took a good line back to Ian. The ewes were off line on the drive away but the cross drive was good and again, Drift put his sheep through the gates.

At the close work, Ian was conscious of time wearing on and after a clean chute, he hurried his shed. Despite that, the shed was made and the run off confirmed Drift as the winner.

Geordie Simpson’s Gin (DK Evans’ Denwyn Doug, RFM Ellis’ Gwen) ran out fine, but her ewes bolted from the top and missed the fetch gate. Gin worked well from there and took the sheep round course on good lines, got her gates and finished the run with good work at hand.

Horrendous weather conditions at Hillswick, in Shetland, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the handlers who pressed on regardless, and they were rewarded with a ranking of their achievements rather than disappointing scores for their efforts.

LEADING awards:

Mey (Judge: A Muir, Halkirk). Nursery – 29 ran – 1, MC Shearer’s Rab, Westfield, 77 outbye; 2, I Sutherland’s Moss, Strathnaver, 77; 3, J Grant’s Brynn, Dunbeath, 76 outbye; 4, G Cormack’s Flash, Dunnet, 76; 5, K Keith’s Tan, Auch, 75; 6, G Simpson’s Joe, Forgue, 74; 7, G Simpson’s Gin, Forgue, 68 outbye; 8, W Cormack’s Maid, Dunnet, 68 Outbye; 9, S Renwick’s Dell, Inverbroom, 68; 10, J Grant’s Pat, Dunbeath, 67 outbye.

Crossdykes (Judge: G Smithson, Kirkbride). Nursery – 10 ran – 1, JA Common's Wyverne Glen, Lockerbie, 85 /100; 2, JA Common's Shep, Lockerbie, 72; 3, R Malcolm’s Gael, Gatehouse, 69; 4, W Todd’s Corrie, Langholm; 5, T Blacklock’s Rob, Kirkconnell; 6, T Blacklock’s Ben, Kirkconnell. Pro-novice – 1, D McMillan's Ruby, Carsphairn, 68; 2, AR Mundell’s Groesfaen Roy, Moffat. Sandy Montgomery memorial trophy for sportmanship – T Blacklock.

Northumberland Nursery League

Ilderton (Judge:C Dickson, Coldingham). Nursery – 30 ran – 1, M Davidson’s Poppy, Lilburn, 91; 2, M Davidson’s Groesfaen Rhannie, Lilburn, 89; 3, P Turnbull’s Jim, Debdon, 85; 4, B Jordan’s, Blaze, Whitfield, 80; 5, E Irvine’s Graylees Rita, Great Elsdon, 79; 6, T Iley’s Crick, Longframlington, 76; 7, B Jordan’s, Flake, Whitfield, 75; 8, D Henderson’s Fern, Allendale, 74. Novice – K McNaulty’s Jill, 76.

Strathnaver (Judge: B Ross, Ardgay). Nursery – 27 ran – 1, I Sutherland’s Foinaven Drift, Strathnaver, 90 Run Off; 2, G Simpson’s Gin, Forgue, 90; 3, W Cormack’s Maid, Dunnet, 89; 4, MC Shearer’s Rab, Westfield, 87; 5, H MacLean’s Meg, Culloden, 83 outbye; 6, G Simpson’s Joe, Forgue, 83; 7, N Sutherland’s Gore Hill Wisp Strathnaver,77; 8, I MacKay’s Shep, Leanach, 74 outbye; 9, S Renwick’s Dell, Inverbroom, 74; 10, J Grant’s Garth Brynn, Dunbeath, 73; 11, J Grant’s Pat, Dunbeath, 72.

Tigh na Blair (Judge: N McVicar, Benmore). Nursery – 31 ran – 1, S McAuley’s Bess, Connachan, 89; 2, S Alexander’s Flo, Rickarton, 83; 3, E Nilsson’s Fergie, Balintore, 82; 4, P Martin’s Corrie, Glenlyon, 79 outbye; 5, M Gallagher’s Arya, Connachan, 79; 6, S Martin’s Mist, Cashlie, 76 outbye; 7, F McCloskey’s Meg, Loch Lomond, 76; 8, J Hastie’s Graylees Rose, Saline, 70; 9, AD Carnegie’s Scott, Comrie, 65; 10, A-C Andersson’s Pixxie, Glenlyon, 63. Novice – 1, F McCloskey’s Meg, Loch Lomond, 76; 2, R Hood’s Bran, Clova, 53; 3, L Christie’s Knock, Crieff, 49.

Hillswick (Judge: AJ Hughson, Brunthamarsland). Nursery – 10 ran – 1, J Ramsay’s Josie, Ollaberry; 2, S Fraser’s Nell, Cullswick; 3, I Sutherland’s Japp, Fetlar; 4, R Colclough’s May, Westsandwick; 5, AWP Hughson’s Bess, Girlsta; 6, B Smith’s Steel, Dunrossness.