Kevin Evans’s Hendre Tex (Spot 362131, Belle 362852) romped home at the Four Nations Nursery trial at Stafford with a long lead over the field.

The national-sized field tested some young dogs, but at the top, they could face a difficult scenario.

Early in the day, some packets bolted from the dogs, but later re-run sheep could face the dogs with no intention of being driven round the course again. Those that were more tractable found their opportunity to express resistance at the pen and shed.

Tex had only minor points dropped on the course and at the pen, and with all obstacles achieved, Kevin added yet another well-deserved, cross-national win to his catalogue of success.

Closer to home at Benmore, Neil McVicar’s Mark led a closely packed, high-scoring list on home ground, with only four points separating the top six dogs.

The Scottish Farmer: Jasmine Grant and Nell led the Scottish team in the Four Nations competitionJasmine Grant and Nell led the Scottish team in the Four Nations competition (Image: web)

The Blackface hoggs behaved well on a flat field and the leading dogs made few mistakes.

Mark (JP McGee’s Glencregg Silver, IM Brownlie’s Lia) ran out and lifted cleanly with only minor wavers on the fetch and drive. One hogg was keen to break from the pen but Mark stopped her attempts, penned the packet, and a clean shed completed the winning run with a raft of three equally pointed dogs hot on his heels.

Hamish Mitchell’s Dan (JP McGee’s Glencregg Silver, D Mullaney’s Nan) matched Mark to the end of the drive and although he had a slightly smoother pen than Mark’s, a small blip at the shed put him a point behind, but his clean start put him in second place ahead of a further two dogs on outbye.

Kenny Donald’s Bill (A Price’s Chip, D McMullan’s Kate) ran out cleanly to his sheep, and Kenny purposely worked with Bill to lift them slowly, fearing that they might take off.

Again, there were only minor wavers on the fetch and drive and a good pen and a good shed put him into contention for second place, but ultimately taking third. Like the others, Andy Carnegie’s Suus (E Groot’s Preseli Roy, J Roos’ Bess) had a clean outrun, and although not just such a smooth lift, matched the other three on the fetch, and had only minor wavers on the drive. A clean pen and a good shed completed the run, placed fourth on outbye.

A challenging course at Birthwood started on flat ground and on either outrun sent dogs out through a gate in a stone dyke and out over a steep 500yd course.

Most managed to find their Blackface hoggs which tested the dogs to bring them down and then turn them round a pole halfway down the course and away across the brae face on the first leg of the drive, through a gate and back again for the cross drive, before bringing the sheep through the dyke, back on to the flat for the pen and shed.

Bobby Dalziel’s Ash (P Dumoulin’s Todd, N de Spa’s Dot) took Bobby’s whistle to reach his sheep, and worked well to keep them on line on the fetch and drive. A clean pen and shed set the seal on the winning run with a comfortable lead over the field.

Cameron Dickson’s Tom (DK Evans’s Ace, U Stromer’s Caefelin Gwen) was one of few to run out without additional encouragement, and although the hoggs were already restless and moved on as he arrived, he quickly stopped them and put them on line. A single hogg broke and bolted on the fetch, but Tom retrieved her, turned the packet round the post and put them round the drive. As they made their way to the pen, the same hogg took off past the pen. Tom turned her back, steadied the packet, penned and finished the run with a clean shed and second place.

Hazel Brown’s Mac (AD Carnegie’s Linburn Rook and Jess) was slow on his outrun and although Hazel’s whistles urged him on, he stopped short at the top, but once he reached his sheep, he worked well on the fetch and drive. A single hogg broke from the pen, but Mac gathered the packet, put them in and a clean shed finished the run level on points with Tom, but taking third place on outbye.

Leading Awards

Slindon, Stafford, Four Nations (Judges: C Roberts, North Wales; S Wilkinson. England). Nursery – Four teams of 10 dogs – 1, DK Evans’s Hendre Tex, Wales 182 /200; 2, R Ellis’s Pip, England, 166; 3, T Birkett’s Ben, England,165; 4, D Jenkins’s Bella (Becca) Wales, 164; 5, R Ellis’s Tip, England, 161; 6, S Maynard’s Winston, England, 159. Teams – 1, Wales 1130; 2. England, 1087.

Benmore (Judge: J MacDougall, Milton of Campsie). Open – 48 ran – 1, N McVicar’s Mark, Benmore, 92; 2, H Mitchell’s Dan, Glenfarg, 91 outbye; 3, K Donald’s Bill, Dalrymple, 91 outbye; 4, AD Carnegie’s Suus, Comrie, 91; 5, S Martin’s Cherry, Cashlie, 90; 6, A Kent’s Cass, Dunoon, 88.

Birthwood (Judge: M McTeir, Moniaive). Open – 46 ran – 1, R Dalziel’s Ash, Ettrick, 86; 2, C Dickson’s Tom, Coldingham, 80 outbye; 3, H Brown’s Mac, Coulter, 80; 4, I Fleming’s Torr, Douglas, 78; 5, A McCulloch’s Sam, Dalmellington, 77; 6, H Mitchell’s Brae, Glenfarg, 76.