With the passing of Greg Prince, sheepdog trialling generally, and the National Sheepdog Trial specifically has lost an outstanding influence on our sport and craft.
I consider that Greg’s input into dog trialling over his too few years makes him the most influential figure in all aspects of working dog trialling, breeding, dog education and handler training that we have had in Australia.
When we look at his absolute dominance in three sheep trialling, his competitiveness at yard dog trialling, his genius at training dogs and his ability to communicate his ideas to many other handlers through his many schools, then he certainly stands out. Considering that Greg ran a livestock carrying business often with the same dogs he trialled, indicates the depth of his ability to maximise the usefulness of the sheepdog.
Greg made no secret that the National was the trial to win. the trial’s significant historical importance in Australia’s sheepdog community, and the records that have been kept since 1942, were important factors in his support of the National The fact that all the previous top handlers, breeders and trainers seem to think of the National with the same regard and respect is supported by the many names that appear on the National Open Winners shields.
When we look at these results of the 74 Nationals that have been decided, Greg has won sixteen times (21% of all the Nationals Opens held) with eleven separate dogs, six of which carried the ‘Princes’ prefix. Equally impressive is his record of sixteen wins in 27 years (60%) since he won his first National Open with Rosedale Lady in 1989.
Many of these trial dogs went on to have a huge influence on the breeding of our present trial and working dogs. Dogs like ‘Princes Clyde’ and ‘Princes Smudge’ and many others come to mind.
As a trailer, Greg was the ultimate, committed competitor, no favours asked or given. When the trial was finished he was very good at what he had a lot of practice at – winning; and equally good at what he didn’t practice very often – not winning.
It seemed to me that when the pressure was on and he needed a top score he could ‘put it all together’ and produce the outstanding performance. I have witnessed this more than once at National finals. I thought that in 2016 working ‘Tippers Brigalow’ Greg’s run in the final showed this ability very well.
I hope these few observations show what an influence Greg Prince has had, and will continue to have for many years, on working sheepdogs. Will his records ever be bettered? I think not, but having said that I remember when it was believed that Geoff Jolly’s record of six wins could not be bettered.
It is with sadness, and a sense of loss to the world of working sheepdog trialling that we bid Greg Prince Farewell.