23 September 2022

Cracka, Drake, Scorcha and Bundy win top working dog title for Boorowa stockman

| Edwina Mason
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Boorowa stockman Nick Foster and his winning team of kelpies (in no particular order) Cracka, Drake, Scorcha and Bundy. Photo: Nick Foster.

Boorowa working dogs – Cracka, Drake, Scorcha and Bundy – have done their owner proud by taking out the 2022 Cobber Working Dog Challenge Relay.

Known collectively as the Koonama Working Kelpies – the quartet and their owner, Boorowa stockman Nick Foster, have been crowned the hardest working crew across the Trans-Tasman.

The competition may have been held south of the equator but Nick said he’s feeling on top of the world as a result of the win.

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The team have been busy managing over 20,000 sheep and cattle – mainly mustering and yardwork – for the duration of the three-week competition.

The Koonama Working Kelpies shared a GPS collar, which enabled tracking of the dogs.

Each day Nick selected one of the dogs to wear the collar with several of the team recording more than 60 kilometres in a day.

It was the yard work that really tested the mettle of the four dogs during the three-week challenge. Photo: Nick Foster.

“My dogs have also been doing trials throughout the entire competition,” Nick said. “Cracka took home third place in the NSW Championship trials and we’ve been in some local comps too, winning Murringo – an open yard trial.”

Murringo is a small village located west of Boorowa.

At the end of the competition the team’s average speed was 10.14 km/h, their total distance was 853.7 kilometres and they spent more than 84 hours working.

“It’s been a crazy time – we had terrible weather, wind and rain so it meant we had stock all over the place and plenty to do,” he explained.

“That’s a lot of ground covered,” Nick said. “I can’t believe they can be doing this many kilometres and then placing in trials at the weekend, I’m extremely proud of my dogs.”

Nick said the kelpies were part of his family but they’re also related; Cracka and Drake are brothers and Cracka sired Scorcha and Bundy.

“I loved every minute of it,” Nick said. “It’s helped me understand how my dogs work.”

For example, he explained, yard work was really tiring on his team but he discovered they don’t actually do that many kilometres – it’s the mental effort that’s the challenge.

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The teams who placed behind Nick were within nipping distance for the entire competition.

Representing Western Australia, Hill View Kelpies – Flick, Millie, Susie and Tez – came in second.

Ryan Eade and his team run 45,000 Merino sheep on a 50,000 hectare property in Bodallin. They took out the top spot for speed with an average of 11.1 km/h.

As farm manager, Ryan missed a few days early in the comp due to his management responsibilities, but that only made him thirsty for the top spot.

“I didn’t think we would catch up to Nick and his team but I wanted to give it my best shot,” he said. “It’s been an amazing experience seeing the kilometres my dogs do.

“It’s not even our busiest time, that’s in April when we’re shearing.”

Parwan Prime from Myrniong in Victoria – Dane Simmonds and his kelpies Ruby and Tully – took out third.

Georgie Constance of Binalong also competed in the event with her team The Young Guns, consisting of Belle, Beaue, Murray and Jess.

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