Cobber Challenge Relay working dog teams set to compete in inaugural event

There are 12 teams of farm dogs that will compete in the Cobber Challenge Relay from across Australia and New Zealand to win the title of hardest working team

Nick Foster, a stockman from Boorowa NSW, can’t wait to show off how hard his dogs can work – and also play – in the Cobber Challenge Relay

In previous years, the Cobber Challenge has showcased the efforts of individual working dogs, but the 2022 challenge celebrates the teamwork that goes into running a farm.

The 12 working dog teams that will compete in the inaugural Cobber Challenge Relay have been announced. There are teams representing every Australian state and New Zealand.

The new relay format recognises that farmers often work dogs in teams, or pick certain dogs to do different tasks, like mustering mobs of cattle or pushing sheep through yards.

Now in its seventh year, the 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay will run from Monday 22 August to Sunday 11 September.

Farmers have nominated teams of two, three or four dogs. Each day of the three-week competition, the farmer will select one of their nominated dogs to wear a GPS collar, to track how far, fast and for how long they work. The results will be combined to crown the winning team.

Their data is uploaded daily to the Cobber Challenge website so fans can follow along with their favourite working dog teams.

Genine Jackson, a grazier representing Queensland in this year’s Cobber Challenge Relay, has a special bond with her working dogs – including Buck pictured here with Genine

Genine Jackson, a grazier representing Queensland in this year’s challenge, has a special bond with her working dogs. In 2020, Genine fell off a young horse, crushing three vertebrae.

Genine didn’t know if she could continue mustering Brahman cattle on the family’s station near Charters Towers. But working dogs, trained to take a bigger range of commands, returned her independence.

As she recovered and learned to train dogs in a new way, she was gifted a dog named Turbo.

“Turbo is the dog that trained me, then trained my other dogs. Dogs have helped me accomplish much more than I ever thought I could,” Genine said.

Sadly, Turbo recently passed away and Genine has christened her team of two Kelpies and one Collie, ‘Team Turbo’ in his memory.

Meanwhile, Nick Foster, a stockman from Boorowa NSW, can’t wait to show off how hard his dogs can work – and play.

“They are a part of my family, and they love my kids. Every day they get off work, they go find my kids.”

Nick’s team ‘Koonama Working Kelpies’ is really a family affair. All four Kelpies are related. Cracka and Drake are brothers, with Cracka siring Scorcha and Bundy.

Representing New Zealand is 19-year-old shepherd Taylor Bird. He has picked his four main dogs to compete in the Cobber Challenge Relay and if there is a dog sledge event Taylor has a big advantage as he is shown here on a typical winter day in NZ

Then on the other side of the ditch, representing New Zealand this year is 19-year-old shepherd Taylor Bird. His ‘Team Hakatere Station’ is made up of four dogs – two Huntaways and two Heading dogs.

“We had so many amazing nominations this year, and the 12 we’ve selected span from Bodallin in Western Australia, across to Mount Somers in New Zealand, almost 5000km, says Kellie Savage from Cobber’s.

“These teams showcase different types of farms and different breeds of dogs. But one thing all the teams share is a special relationship between our entrants and their dogs.”

Kellie says the relay format will give people a better sense of how farmers really work with their dogs.

“When they’re out on the land, it’s a team effort,” Kellie concluded.

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

For three weeks, the dogs 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 Relay trophy.

This year’s 12 competing teams announced on 25 July will seek to win the most points in the 2022 Cobber Challenge Relay from 22 August to 11 September.

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

Competitors in the 2022 Cobber Challenge

  • Nick Foster of Boorowa, NSW
    Team ‘Koonama Working Kelpies’ incl. dogs Cracka, Drake, Scorcha and Bundy
  • Georgie Constance of Binalong, NSW
    Team ‘The Young Guns’ incl. dogs Belle, Beau, Murray and Jess
  • 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
  • Genine Jackson of Charters Towers, Queensland
    Team ‘Team Turbo’ incl. dogs Whiskey, Buck and Nick
  • Jordan Flemming of Fingal, Tasmania
    Team ‘Redhead Kelpies’ incl. dogs Nuts, Claire and Nip
  • Ali Hodgson of Greenways, South Australia
    Team ‘Circus’ incl. dogs Opie, Becham Floyd and Midi.
  • Darius Cosgrave of Tintinara, South Australia
    Team ‘Superior Wool Merino’ incl. dogs Jip and Boots
  • Dane Simmonds of Myrniong, Victoria
    Team ‘Parwan Prime’ incl. dogs Ruby and Tully
  • Melissa Smith and Dan McKinnon of Skipton, Victoria
    Team ‘Anywhere Crutching’ incl. dogs Caviar Keith, Roy, Pip and Jude
  • 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.
    See Taylor and his team in a larger photo inside the story.