Belfast Telegraph

Jake Hamilton and sheepdog Jim help Ireland scoop shepherding title in Countryfile's One Man And His Dog TV final

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

Sheepdog Jim proved his loyalty by sticking to his strict instructions while performing at One Man And His Dog.

Jim's owner Jake Hamilton was delighted to win the outstanding handler award at the sheepdog contest on top of helping secure the 2013 championship for Ireland.

The 18-year-old, from Feystown outside Glenarm, Co Antrim, showcased the time-honoured skills and traditions of sheepdog trialling at the 2013 final, with the help of his four-year-old collie.

Viewers of BBC rural affairs show Countryfile watched him see off competition from England, Scotland and Wales for the Young Handlers title.

At the final, in the Cotswolds in England, Jake penned the sheep with a minute to spare and scored 74 points for Ireland, some 12 more than his closest rival.

This combined with the senior handler score of 62 gave Ireland the overall win, and Jake was also named as the outstanding handler in the competition.

The quiet teenager has taken part in a number of dog trials over the years, including winning the young handler title at the Irish national championships two years ago.

Last night mum Jackie, a holistic therapist, said the whole family was thrilled at his success.

Her modest teenage son had told her Ireland had won the 2013 One Man And His Dog championships ahead of Sunday's televised final, but didn't mention he won the outstanding handler award.

"We are delighted for him," Jackie said. "We knew he had won but we didn't know he got the outstanding handler award until we watched the show on Sunday night.

"We had a nice family party to celebrate."

The former Slemish College pupil, who now works as an industrial painter and cleaner, has been training dogs since he was 14, after being bought one by a neighbour for a birthday present.

He used to use a steel whistle to direct his dogs, but as he told roving Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, who visited him at home: "If you use your fingers and your mouth you cannae forget them if you go to a trial."

Adam complimented Jake on his "powerful whistle" and said Jim was so responsive he was "like a robot".

The sheepdog trials final on Sunday night also proved a hit for BBC One.

The programme averaged 7.4m, up 600,000 viewers on the previous week, showing there is an appetite for the niche contest.

At its peak in the 1980s, the stand alone One Man And His Dog programme regularly drew audiences of 8m.

FACTFILE

Countryfile Special: One Man and His Dog 2013 Final

1st: Ireland 136

2nd: Wales 119

3rd: England 116

4th: Scotland 85

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