World-class dog handlers at Simon Sainsbury trials in Didling

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TOP-class dog handlers travelled from all over the country and further afield to take part in the eighth annual Simon Sainsbury Open Dog Trials at Manor Farm in Didlin.

Run by the Wessex Sheepdog Society, the event drew a highly-competitive field of 70 entrants.

They had travelled not just from all over Britain including Wales, Gloucester, Devon, Northampton and Cornwall, but from across Europe too as representatives of the Swiss national team were competing.

Expectations close to home were also high, with handlers coming from Gospel Green and the Isle of Wight.

The standard of competition, including former national and area champions, showed just how well-respected this event has become in the annual trialling calendar.

The sheep were presented for the trials by Matthew Blyth of Didling Farms Ltd.

Event organiser Christine Blyth said: “Conditions out on the field were near perfect, with blazing sunshine on both days.

“Two very different courses were run on the Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday’s course in particular designed to test both dog and handler to the limit! A number of prizes were up for grabs, including special prizes for outstanding performance for various elements of the course.”

She added: “The sunshine had a very positive effect on visitor numbers, which really boosted the fundraising efforts from both the raffle and the catering.

“That, combined with sponsorship from Crowe Clark Whitehall, Countryside Special Events, Smiths Gore and West Point Veterinary Group means we hope the event will have raised in the region of £7,500.”

Funds raised will be shared equally between Canine Partners and Naomi House Hospice.

Visitors to the event were also treated to a very different display of dog-handling when the team from Canine Partners demonstrated the difference assistance dogs can make to the lives of people with disabilities.

Onlookers were amazed to see the dogs not only helping with tasks such as loading a washing machine, but even assisting their owners to do up their gloves!

“We had some of Europe’s best dogs and handlers performing at the top of their game in beautiful conditions,” Christine told the Observer.

“All the spectators were really supportive and it was great to see so many people enjoying the British countryside at its best while raising money for two fantastic charities.”

Results: Saturday: Open Trial: 1 Richard Montgomery with Meg (from Bristol), 2 Dick Roper with Spot (from Gloucester), 3 Jed Watson with Jay (from Dartmoor).

Novice Trial: Matt Vickery with Cap (from Salisbury); Ladies’ Trial: Angie Blackmore (from


Sunday: Open Trial:1 Jed Watson with Taff (from Dartmoor), 2 Jane Drinkwater with Moss (from Wales), 3 Jed Watson with Jay. Novice Trial: Angie Blackmore with Roy (from Ledbury);

Ladies’ Trial: Jane Drinkwater.Special prizes: Farmer’s Cup (biggest combined score over

two days by a handler working on/owning a farm): Eamonn Lawless from Isle of Wight.

Stewart Grimshaw Shepherd’s Cup (biggest combined score over two days by

a handler working as a shepherd/flock manager): Sarah Walker from Kent. Open Trial:1 Jed




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