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Last Updated: Friday, 3 September, 2004, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Sheepdog lovers to flock to Wales
Thousands of visitors are expected at Gelli Aur, near Llandeilo
Organisers of one of the UK's top sheepdog competitions have made a plea for help in accommodating competitors and visitors to the event.

The International Sheepdog Trials is taking place in Carmarthenshire for the first time later this month.

It has attracted 60 competitors from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales plus visitors from Europe and America.

But it clashes with the Wales GB Rally which is passing through the county on the same weekend.

It's put a bit of pressure on us but there has been a tremendous response
David James

David James, accommodation officer for the sheepdog trials, taking place at Gelli Aur, near Llandeilo, between 16 and 18 of September, admitted there had been a bit of a panic.

"We put out a notice in a few of the local papers for help because it is the same weekend as the Wales rally and there is also a wedding in Llandeilo so many of the bed and breakfasts are full.

"It's put a bit of pressure on us but there has been a tremendous response.

Supreme Champion

"People have come out of the woodwork - people who use to run B&Bs and farmers who said they will put people up to help.

"The local population is doing all it can to help and, touch wood, I think we have been able to find a place for everyone so far.

"Each country will be bringing a team of 15 and they need to stay as close to the ground as possible.

Organisers say the event is the pinnacle of the sheepdog calendar

"We will also have visitors from America and Europe because sheepdog trials are becoming popular internationally.

"It's nice to have this chance to open it up to non-trialists and for them to enjoy this part of rural life."

The dogs and their owners will be competing for the title of Supreme Champion.

Working dogs

Welsh president of the sheepdog trails, Meirion Owen, said it had always been an ambition to bring the event to west Wales.

As well as the competition, there are trade stands, dog agility demonstrations, a food fair and other attractions.

Welsh Environment Minister Carwyn Jones is set to attend.

"This is the pinnacle of our calendar," added Mr Owen.

He said if the weather was kind, he was hoping for several thousand spectators at the event.

"It's never been here before so we did not want to hype it up but we are in an area that has a good following for sheepdogs.

"All the dogs competing will be working dogs, most of the dogs would work on the farm everyday.

"You've got farm bikes these days but they will never really replace sheepdogs because dogs can get to places the bikes never can."

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