Cobber Stories & Media

Working dogs get cracking on inaugural Cobber Challenge Relay

22 August 2022

Twelve teams of working dogs from across Australia and New Zealand are competing in the 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay – who will take out the top spot?

Starting today and for the next three weeks, the teams will wear GPS collars to track how far, fast and hard they work. Team sizes range from two to four dogs, with the new relay format designed to show off the team effort that goes into farm work – between farmers and multiple dogs.

“The relay is about recognising the contribution of working dog teams on Aussie and New Zealand farms. As farmers usually work with a team of dogs, we wanted to showcase their incredible teamwork,” said Kellie Savage, Cobber’s Marketing Manager.

So, what are our freshly minted teams going to be getting up to during the competition?

Olly Hanson, a farm manager from Corinella in New South Wales says his team of three Kelpies – Jake, Bowie and Hex – will be getting busy with a mixed program coming up.

“We’ve got a few stock moves planned, going through some sale sheep, weaning some early calves and marking the current batch,” says Olly.

Olly thinks he has a good idea of how hard his crew works, but he’s looking forward to finding out for sure: “I might be surprised by how fast they can go over the timeframe.”

Olly also looks forward to seeing how Jordan Flemming, a fellow competitor from Fingal in Tasmania, goes – because Olly bred one of Jordan’s dogs, Claire.

Jordan is a stockman on a 20,000-acre full-stock farm. Other than Claire, a three-year old Kelpie, his team consists of Nuts and Nip. Nuts is a two-year old Kelpie while Nip, only one and a half, is a Kelpie cross Huntaway.

Jordan thinks seeing the speeds and distances the dogs cover is going to be a “huge surprise”.

“I’m most excited about seeing how much work the dogs really do put in.”

Throughout the competition, Jordan and his team will be in peak shearing season. So they’ll be doing lots of shed and yard work, alongside some land and paddock work.

Meanwhile, back in New South Wales, Sarah Richards is keen to see which of her four Kelpies, Kora, Spud, Cash or Tank, clock the most kilometres. Sarah, a senior station hand from Coolah, might be a familiar face to some. She competed in the Cobber Challenge in 2017.

Sarah says she knows her dogs work their hearts out for her every day, but she can’t wait to see the distance and speeds they really hit. Plus, how they compare to the other teams.

Sarah and her dogs will mainly be mustering for the duration of the competition.

“We will have a bit of yard work to do, but I anticipate the majority of our work will be out in the paddocks putting mobs together pre lamb marking and mustering stray stock.”

Now in its seventh year, the 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay kicks off today (Monday 22 August) and runs until Sunday 11 September. Eleven teams are from Australia and one from New Zealand.

Each day of the competition, data is uploaded to the Cobber Challenge website so fans can follow the performance of their favourite team.

Cobber Working Dog Food will provide the fuel for these dogs, as it does for thousands of working dogs every day around the country.

For three weeks, the teams will be scored based on distance, speed and duration of work per day with points accumulated based on daily activity, to determine the winner of the Cobber Challenge trophy.

People can follow the performance of their favourite dog at and on the Cobber Dog Facebook page.

Competitors for the 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay

  • Nick Foster of Boorowa, NSW
  • Team ‘Koonama Working Kelpies’ incl. dogs Cracka, Drake, Scorcha and Bundy
  • Olly Hanson of Corinella, NSW
  • Team ‘Lost River Kelpies’ incl. dogs Jake, Bowie and Hex
  • Sarah Richards of Coolah, NSW
  • Team ‘Nerremen Kelpies’ incl. dogs Kora, Spud, Cash and Tank
  • Georgie Constance of Binalong, NSW
  • Team ‘The Young Guns’ incl. dogs Belle, Beau, Murray and Jess
  • Darius Cosgrave of Tintinara, South Australia
  • Team ‘Superior Wool Merino’ incl. dogs Jip and Boots
  • Ali Hodgson of Greenways, South Australia
  • Team ‘Circus’ incl. dogs Opie, Becham Floyd and Midi.
  • Jordan Flemming of Fingal, Tasmania
  • Team ‘Redhead Kelpies’ incl. dogs Nuts, Claire and Nip
  • Ryan Eade of Bodallin, Western Australia
  • Team ‘Hill View Kelpies’ incl. dogs Flick, Millie, Tezz and Suzie
  • Taylor Bird of Mount Somers, New Zealand
  • Team ‘Hakatere Station’ incl. dogs Bruno, Kate, Tom and Moss.
  • Melissa Smith and Dan McKinnon of Skipton, Victoria
  • Team ‘Anywhere Crutching’ incl. dogs Caviar Keith, Roy, Pip and Jude
  • Dane Simmonds of Myrniong, Victoria
  • Team ‘Parwan Prime’ incl. dogs Ruby and Tully
  • Genine Jackson of Charters Towers, Queensland
  • Team ‘Team Turbo’ incl. dogs Whiskey, Buck and Nick
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