TWO years after Geoff McDougall, Hay, NSW and his four-year-old dog Ace won the novice section at the national championships at Lucindale, the duo again found it hallowed ground.
They took out the state yard dog championships at the 40th Lucindale trial.
Their first run of 92.5 points set them up for the win, completing the course easily the fastest in seven minutes and 50 seconds.
In the second run they received 85 points, their combined score of 177.5 points, well ahead of the pack.
"(Ace) picked them up in the big yard and just put them straight in, that's where he won it," Mr McDougall said.
"He is a dog that takes ground off his sheep and works with me."
In November last year, Mr McDougall and Ace, which Mr McDougall obtained as a four-month-old pup from a Deniliquin drover, also won the Vic state championships.
The livestock agent with Nutrien Ag Solutions Hay is looking forward to competing in the nationals at Cressy, Tas, next month.
"I've represented Australia before in New Zealand but I've never won a national so I am excited to have another go at it," Mr McDougall said.
Runner-up at Lucindale this year was Peter Barr, Pinnaroo, and his dog Sherwood Charm.
Across three days the 40 competitors completed more than 300 runs through the two purpose-built courses.
Trial convenor Darren Jenke said it had been awesome to hold the event with a crowd for the first time in three years.
"Everyone always wants to compete but they also don't mind showing off what their dogs can do to the public and having the support of family and friends watching on," he said.
Mr Jenke believes the enduring popularity of yard dog trials is due to "people on the land loving their dogs'' and recognising how valuable they are for working stock.
"It is a great way for them to test their dogs' skills against the sheep and other competitors and other dogs."
"Trialling isn't quite like working on-farm but there is a fairly good correlation."
Another highlight of the milestone trial was the unveiling of the Johnny Rivett Pavilion at Kelpie Korner named after the local man who has been in charge of letting the sheep out on the course for the past couple of decades.
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