And away they go! The 2020 Cobber Challenge starts today, with 12 dogs from around the country competing to win the title of Australia’s hardest working dog.
Over three weeks the dogs will wear GPS collars tracking how fast, how far and how long they work.
The fifth annual Cobber Challenge will see past competitors return as ‘All Stars’, going head to head with fresh-faced ‘Contenders’ in each state.
“The Cobber Challenge is about celebrating the unsung heroes of Australian farms – working dogs,” said Kellie Savage, Cobber’s Marketing Manager.
“This year’s a bit different with the new All Stars vs Contenders format, so we’re all excited to see how it will play out.”
So, what are our fierce competitors getting up to on Day 1?
Harrison Park and his three-year-old kelpie Elsie from Western Australia will be keeping busy on day one marking stock.
Harrison reckons Elsie has got the dedication to go the distance across the three-week challenge.
“Even after a big day, Elsie will wake up the next day and do it all again. Nothing seems to falter her.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in Queensland, All Star competitor Heidi Mulder and her border collie Socks will be mustering cattle for pregnancy testing.
“We’ve got a lot of mustering to do throughout the next few weeks, so Socks has quite a few kilometres to travel over the three weeks of the competition,” Heidi said.
“We’ll give it our best shot and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
Skyla Milgate is the human half of the all-female duo representing Victoria as Contenders in this year’s Challenge.
She and her two-year-old kelpie Cub will be moving stock between properties.
“There’s about 11 kilometres between the properties, so Cub will definitely get some distance up on day 1,” Skyla said.
“There’ll also be some preg testing and lamb marking, so we’ve got a bit on.”
Skyla reckons Cub’s athleticism and stamina will ensure they clock a bit of distance and climb the leader board.
“Cub loves to run. She’s always ready, no matter what time of day it is, or what you’re doing, she never stops.”
“Day one will be a good indicator of how hard these dogs work,” Kellie said.
“But as we’ve seen in previous years, the winner isn’t decided until the very end, so we’re excited to track each dog’s performance over the next three weeks.”
Picking a winner isn’t easy, but Peta Bauer, the owner of last year’s winner Jed, is tipping All Star team Damien and Larry from Victoria to take out this year’s title.
“He’s done it before so he knows what it takes,” she said.
“I also have a soft spot for Bruce in WA as he is Jed’s uncle, and it would be great to see back-to-back border collie winners.”
Peta’s advice to this year’s competitors is to make sure the dogs get plenty of fuel throughout the challenge.
“Make sure they have plenty of access to water while working and feed them lots of food at night to keep their energy up,” she said.
Cobber Working Dog food provides the fuel for these dogs, as it does for thousands of working dogs every day around the country.
Keep up with all the action of this year’s Cobber Challenge at www.cobberchallenge.com.au
Competitors for the 2020 Cobber Challenge: All Stars Vs Contenders
· Glenda Rogan and Buddy, Copmanhurst NSW
· Heidi Mulder and Socks, Prairie QLD
· Matt Scharkie and Mitch, Terowie SA*
· Sam McCarthy and Max, Jamestown SA*
· Damien Clifford and Larry, Woorndoo VIC
· Jack Febey and Monty, Epping Forest TAS
· Bec Martin and Bruce, Moora WA
· Jacinta Bradley and Digger, Tumbarumba NSW
· Oliver Armstrong and Roudy, St George QLD
· Skyla Milgate and Cub, Broadwater VIC
· Pip Flower and Hurricane, Greater Launceston, TAS
· Harrison Scott Park and Elsie, Badgingarra WA
*Unfortunately, none of the South Australian Contender nominations were eligible for the Cobber Challenge this year. For this reason, both of the South Australian competitors are All Stars.