A good, steady run from Stuart Davidson and Mac at Hunterston won them a long lead at North Ayrshire’s first nursery trial of the season.

On a glorious winter day, the Mule hoggs behaved well on the flat course, if handled appropriately, but some young dogs crossed their course and some of those who stayed the course struggled to shed them.

Sound work outbye and on the course from Stuart Davidson’s Mac (A McCulloch’s Sam, M Dempster’s Straid Jan) was threatened by difficulties at the shed, but once completed, the run earned Mac first place, ahead of a raft of three dogs all 10 points behind him.

Chris Toner’s Fern Hill Spot (F McCullough’s Cap, A Toner’s Fern) got off to a good start outbye which gave him the edge over the other two, and although he missed the first drive gate and made a hole in the run, good work at hand helped to atone for that.

Vicky Mathie whistled Fea (V Mathie’s Scalpsie Midge and Liv) on her outrun and Fea needed continued support from Vicky to lift her sheep off the fence where she found them. Once she had them on line, Fea put them around the course, penned quickly and even an unfinished shed failed to keep her out of third place.

Davie Kinloch’s Jock (D Kinloch’s Zak, C Toner’s Maid) started well until the hoggs missed the fetch gate. Coming round Davie’s feet the hoggs stopped and stuck between him and the pen before Jock got them moving on to an excellent drive. The hoggs went around the pen before Jock secured them within and although the shed took time, it was good and Jock was third of the runners up.

Blackface Hoggs behaved well on an uphill course at Birthwood on a beautiful, frosty day. Dogs ran out over a line set diagonally across the braeface; later they tended to find the sheep hard to shed.

Sion Morgan’s Mainstay Pip (A Lehitio’s Coel, S Morgan’s Midderry Kim) ran out to the right to find her sheep had moved away left and were tight to the fence, but Pip handled that, covered them, and brought them on line for a good fetch and drive with straight lines and tight turns. All looked good, until at the mouth of the pen, the hoggs broke, but Pip retrieved them, penned, and finished the winning run with a clean shed. Hazel Brown’s Meg (K Donald’s Choc and Sally) was wide on her outrun but worked well from there, with a good lift, straight fetch, and neat turn and drive away. When the hoggs went offline on the cross drive, Meg managed to tuck them back, in time to put them through the gate and made a nice return to a good pen. It took a little time to make the shed, but once it was made, Meg earned second place.

Cheviot gimmers running on a rising field on a bright, frosty day made a pretty picture at Gillisbie, but the cross drive gate was no pin-up.

Stuart McCrindle’s Duncallean Play (M Young’s Stewie and Jess) worked well throughout, with a good outrun and lift, minor wavers on the fetch, and a good first leg to the drive. The cross drive was not so smooth, but a kink on the line got the sheep through the gate and a good pen followed. A clean shed completed the run in first place with a comfortable lead over the field.

After a less than perfect start at Lieuray, Michael Shearer’s Heilan Rab redeemed himself on the course and at hand in the howling wind, rain, and flying debris of the worst Wednesday of the winter at the end of December.

The Cheviot hoggs were spooky and skittish in 72mph winds, on a slightly uphill course, and could face the dogs at the pen, but they generally behaved, considering the conditions of the day.

Heilan Rab (T Coghill Robertson’s Dahl and Dot) started out a little wide and stopped slightly short at the top but a clean lift and a good fetch soon put him on track. He put his sheep around the drive although their turn out of the cross drive gate was wide. Rab made a good pen on a day that did not support finesse, and a clean shed put the stamp of success on the winning run.

Kelsey Keith’s Foinaven Ellie (L Howell’s Boss, K Keith’s Foinaven Sassy) ran out and lifted faultlessly and had a good fetch with minor wavers. She too, got her sheep round the course with a wide turn and once more, penned well, but as the hoggs came out of the pen Ellie realised that it was not a day for a trial. Ellie’s good start brought the work two points short of Rab’s and she earned second place for her effort.

Cheviot ewes at Broadgairhill ran well on a rising course but dogs had their work cut out to drive them across the brae face for the cross drive and could then find them tricky to pen.

Chris Toner’s Niro Mace (R Watson’s Ace, C Toner’s Maid) ran out and lifted cleanly, had a good fetch and drive with only minor wavers, but for a dipping of the line of the cross drive, but Mace put his sheep through the gate. Like others, Mace found the hoggs were frisky at the pen but, again he secured them and finished his winning run with a clean shed.

Sandy McCulloch’s Risp (G McMullan’s Max and Jess) ran out and lifted cleanly had a good fetch with minor wavers and a good drive until he missed his cross drive gate. Risp penned after stopping a break and took second place.

The cross drive and pull though gate were reversed for the second day’s trial.

John Allan’s Joe (J Allan’s Rob, A Dickman’s Kate) started off with a clean outrun and lift, a good fetch and drive, both with just minor wavers of the line. A clean pen followed and Joe came out on top.

Bobby Dalziel’s Maybe (I Fourney’s Spot and Floss) ran out and lifted cleanly to finish in second place.

Leading Awards

Millden (Judge: M Simpson, Brechin). Nursery –16 ran – 1, M Gallagher’s Dalriada Chief, Alyth, 93; 2, M Gallagher’s Hillrunner Bee, Alyth, 84; 3, K Dickson’s Llwynsarn Sky, Fintry, 83; 4, A Wilkie’s Bill, Glenmoy, 82; 5, A Wilkie’s Seal, Glenmoy, 75; 6, E Nilsson’s Dalriada Amy, Alyth, 73; 7, AD Carnegie’s Dot, Comrie, 71; 8, H Mitchell’s Bell, Glenfarg, 59 Outbye; 9, C Maitland Gardner’s Max, Muthill, 59; 10, J Hastie’s Quick, Saline, 57.

Gillisbie I (Judge: J Allan, Mt Benger). Nursery – 14 ran – 1, S McCrindle’s Duncallean Play, Stranraer, 90; 2, K Keith’s Foinaven Ellie, Lockerbie, 85; 3, A Stewart’s Annandale Spot, Lockerbie, 83; 4, A Stewart’s Jim, Lockerbie, 82; 5, C Armstrong’s Mirk, Archbank, 79; 6, I McMillan’s Cat, Newton Stewart, 78; 7, M Young’s Duncallean Tandy, Stranraer, 75; 8, A Stewart’s Annandale Alice, Lockerbie, 68.

Birthwood (Judge: H Mitchell, Glenfarg). Nursery – 15 ran – 1, S Morgan’s Mainstay Pip, Heriot, 81; 2, H Brown’s Meg, Coulter, 78; 3, IM Brownlie’s Lark, Dunbar, 77; 4, IM Brownlie’s Beck, Dunbar, 75; 5, RB Henderson’s Nell, Broughton, 67; 6, J Mitchell’s Aaro, Broughton, 56; 7, I Fleming’s Wheatwood Ruby, Douglas, 54; 8, A Frame’s Kate, Quarter ; 9, A Frame’s Zoe, Quarter. Novice – 10 ran – 1, R Reid’s Lynn, Carnwath, 63; 2, M McColm’s Viking Lee, Leadhills, 60; 3, A Walker’s Roy, Hamilton, 48.

Hunterston I (Judge: C Joelsson, Sandbank). Nursery – 16 ran – 1, SL Davidson’s Mac, Sandbank, 78; 2, C Toner’s Fernhill Jack, Drimsynie, 68 Outbye; 3, V Mathie’s Fea, Kilmaurs, 68 outbye; 4, D Kinloch’s Jock, Kilsyth, 68; 5, E Gray’s Greylees Flute, Ardros, 67; 6, E Gray’s Mainstay Jock, Ardros, 65; 7, L Gast’s Scalpsie Herbie, Scalpsie, 60; 8, L Gast’s Scalpsie Style, Scalpsie, 51; 9, N McVicar’s Molly, 50; 10, R Munro’s Ross, Eaglesham.

Broadgairhill I (Judge: AB Mundell, Moffat). Open – 32 ran – 1, C Toner’s Niro Mace, Drimsynie, 87; 2, A McCulloch’s Risp, Dalmellington, 85; 3, S Morgan’s Vann Queen, Heriot, 82; 4, A Dickman’s Meg (Kate), Oxton, 81; 5, B Parker’s Keita, Heriot, 80; 6, J Allan’s Joe, Mt Benger, 78.

Broadgairhill II (Judge: F McMillan, Moniaive). Open – 26 ran – 1, J Allan’s Joe, Mt Benger, 93; 2, R Dalziel’s Maybe, Ettrick, 92; 3, A McCulloch’s Sam, Dalmellington, 91 outbye; 4, H Mitchell’s Dan, Glenfarg, 91; 5, R Dalziel’s Reba, Ettrick, 89; 6, D Aitken’s Tweeddale Vicki, Peebles, 87. £350 raised for Scottish International trial fund.

Lieuray (Judge: H MacKenzie, Badenloch). Open – 25 ran – 1, MC Shearer’s Heilan Rab, Westfield, 86; 2, K Keith’s Foinaven Ellie, Lockerbie, 84; 3, N Sutherland’s Spot, Strathnaver, 81; 4, N Sutherland’s Usk Valley Rex, Strathnaver,79 Outbye; 5, M Sutherland’s Missy, Halkirk, 79; 6, I Sutherland’s Cap, Strathnaver, 78.

Birchburn, Arran I (Judge: L Robertson, Machrie). Nursery – Seven ran – 1, I McConnell’s Fly, Lamlash, 69; 2, W Stevenson’s Tweeddale Morag, Whiting Bay.

Birchburn, Arran II (Judge: L Robertson, Machrie). Nursery – Seven ran – 1, I McConnell’s Fly, Lamlash, 72; 2, W Stevenson’s Tweeddale Morag, Whiting Bay, 70. Older dogs – 1, I McConnell’s Joe, Lamlash, 88; 2, J McNeish’s Pip, Craigview, 66; 3, I Logan’s Bute, Pirnmill, 64.