Cobber Stories & Media

NSW Kelpies team are the top dogs for 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay

12 September 2022

This year’s Cobber Challenge  introduced a new relay format for competitors, with teams of farm dogs competing across Australia and New Zealand to be crowned the hardest-working crew.

The 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay winners are a team of four, Koonama Working Kelpies. Cracka, Drake, Sorcha and Bundy have done their owner, Nick Foster – a stockman from Boorowa, New South Wales – proud.

“I’m on top of the world,” says Nick.

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

“I loved every minute of it. It’s helped me understand how my dogs work. For example, yard work is really tiring on them, but it was interesting to see they don’t actually do that many kilometres in the yard. It’s the mental effort that’s the challenge.”

Nick describes the Kelpies as part of his family, and in fact the four dogs are related. Cracka and Drake are brothers, and Cracka sired Scorcha and Bundy.

“My dogs have also been doing trials throughout the entire competition. Cracka took home third place in the NSW Championship trials, and we’ve been in some local comps too. He won Murringo, an open yard trial during the competition as well.

“I can’t believe they can be doing this many kilometres, and then placing in trials on the weekends. I’m extremely proud of all my dogs.”

The Koonama Working Kelpies crew shared the GPS collar around, to track how hard they worked. Each day Nick picked one of the dogs to wear the GPS collar. A few times, the dog wearing the collar recorded more than 60km in a day. That’s a lot of ground covered by this hard-working team.

“It’s been a crazy time. We had terrible weather, wind and rain. But it meant we had stock all over the place and plenty to do,” says Nick.

At the end of the three-week competition, the team’s average speed is 10.14km/h, their total distance is 853.7km, and they spent over 84 hours working.

The teams coming in second, third and fourth have been tight for the entire competition.

Representing Western Australia, Hill View Kelpies – Flick, Millie, Suzie and Tez – came in second. Ryan Eade and his Kelpies run 45,000 Merino sheep on a 50,000-hectare property in Bodallin. They also took out the top spot for speed, with an average of 11.1km/h.

As farm manager, Ryan missed a few days early in the competition 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. 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,” says Ryan.

“Congratulations to Nick and his team. And thank you Cobber for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this challenge.”

Parwan Prime from Myrniong in Victoria – Dane Simmonds and his Kelpies Ruby and Tully – took out third. With livestock constantly coming in and out of Parwan Prime, there’s always plenty to do.

“We work seven days a week. The Cobber Challenge Relay was fun to do. I would’ve been happy wherever my dogs ended up and it is so  good to see what they do,” says Dane.

Tasmanian team Redhead Kelpies got edged out of the top three in the last few days. Jordan Flemming and his young crew of dogs – Nip, Nuts and Claire – work a 20,000-acre full-stock farm in Fingal.

“A huge congratulations to the winners, and all the teams this year,” says organiser Kellie Savage, Cobber Marketing Manager

“The Cobber Challenge Relay is an incredible celebration of working dogs and their invaluable contribution to properties all across Australia and New Zealand. Congratulations to all the teams for tracking their dogs across different terrains and weather conditions, and for sharing wonderful photos and videos of their working dog teams in action.”

Cobber Working Dog Food provides the fuel for the dogs competing in the Cobber Challenge as well as thousands of others working hard every day around the country.

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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