Northern Ireland is set to host the World Sheepdog Trials for the first time ever next month.
Around 240 dogs from across the world and their handlers will descend on Gill Hall Estate in Dromore for the four day event which starts on 13 September.
Over 50,000 spectators are expected to attend.
A total of 21 people from across the north and south have been selected to represent Team Ireland, including a grandfather and grandson duo, which is a first for the competition.
Hailing from Ballybofey, in Co Donegal, Sammy Long and his grandson, Sam Fagan, who is also the youngest competitor in the Senior Cup Competition.
“I have been taking part in sheepdog trials for a number of years but there’s something special about representing Team Ireland, on home soil, and having my grandson by my side just makes me feel so proud,” Sammy explained.
“Many hours of training have gone into preparing for the World Sheepdog Trials and we know that we will be up against some tough competition, but I’m confident that Team Ireland will be able to put on a stellar performance. We have some very experienced partnerships on our team this year, which will certainly stand us in good stead.”
The event is expected to attract spectators from all over the world.
"The arrival of the World Sheepdog Trials in Northern Ireland is a momentous occasion," said John McCullough, Chairman of the World Trial Committee.
"We are honoured to showcase the exceptional talent and dedication of sheepdogs and their handlers on the global stage. With competitors hailing from diverse countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Finland, this event truly exemplifies the universal appeal of sheepdog trials."
Situated just outside Dromore, Co Down, Gill Hall Estate has been kindly made available to the International Sheep Dog Society for the event by Bill and James Porter.
"We are thrilled and immensely proud to be the venue for the 2023 World Sheepdog Trials. Gill Hall Estate provides the perfect backdrop for this global event, offering not only a picturesque setting but also the space and facilities necessary to accommodate the competitors and spectators alike,” Bill Porter said.
“We’re hopeful that the ripple effect of the four-day event will extend well beyond the World Sheepdog Trials, benefitting local businesses and accommodation providers across the week and showcasing the incredible sights of Northern Ireland to visitors from across the globe.”
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