THE world’s top dog handlers will be gathering at Didling this weekend to take part in the eighth annual Simon Sainsbury Open Dog Trials at Manor Farm.
The competition, which runs from 8am-5pm on both days (July 12-13), brings together the world’s best, competing once again for a number of trophies.
More than 60 entries are already confirmed and competitors will be travelling from all over the country, including as far afield as Wales, Gloucester, Devon and Cornwall.
Competitors will also come from across Europe as representatives from the Swiss national team are attending.
Included in the field are a number of national trial winners so competition is expected to be fierce.
The trials take place in some of the finest scenery the South Downs has to offer – the slopes of the downs forming a natural arena that gives spectators a great view.
Supporters of this year’s event include Crowe Clark Whitehall, Countryside Special Events, Smiths Gore and West Point Vets.
There will also be a chance to see a very different sort of working dog in action when the dogs from Canine Partners are put through their paces.
The dogs, specially trained to help their disabled partners, will be demonstrating at lunchtime on both days.
The dogs will show the incredible array of tasks they can perform for their owners – everything from loading the washing machine to sounding the alarm if their owner collapses.
All the money raised at the event is shared between local charities Canine Partners and Naomi House Hospice.
There’s also a raffle with numerous generous prizes provided by local companies.
Since the event started, more than £36,000 has been raised and shared between the two charities.
Refreshments are available on-site, including tea, coffee and soft drinks, hot food and homemade cakes.
There’s free parking and welfare facilities are also available.
Event organiser Christine Blyth said: “Living in this area, we see sheep in the fields every day, but we rarely have the chance to get up close and appreciate the incredible skill of the shepherds and their dogs.
“This event is a perfect opportunity to see them at work, to have a great family day out and to support two wonderful local charities.”
Entry to the event is free, but charitable donations are always gratefully accepted.
Access to the event is clearly signposted from the Petersfield and South Harting roads.