IT'S hoped to become the Magic Millions of the dog world.
And if the first Australian Cow Dog Challenge was anything to judge by, the event is well on it's way to making that become a reality.
At the weekend Tamworth's Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre was transformed into a working-dog extravaganza.
The three-day event included a dog trial, where there was a whopping prize pool of $18,000, and an auction of 110 working dogs that grossed $349,050.
The top priced female sold for $11,000.
The Australian Cow Dog Challenge was the brain child of three working dog enthusiasts, which include an avid dog trialler, a vet and a marketing expert.
Maree Balmain (the marketing guru) said with the increased demand for working dogs on the land, they felt the industry needed a sophisticated event that showcased the best dogs and offered top-class genetics for sale.
"The concept isn't new,” she said.
"It's basically the Magic Millions or Landmark Classic concept; it's selling a pup that's started their training then allowing them to come back for a restricted contest and have a chop at an event that is only for the dogs purchased at the previous year.
"We have seen how well this concept has worked for the horse industry - it brought much-needed stability to the price of a well-trained and well-bred horse.
"So that's basically what we are trying to apply to the dogs.”
There were 160 dogs nominated for the trial, and the winner of the open competition, Robert Johnston, received $10,000.
The substantial prize purse was offered in a bid to attract the best competitors.
"We knew the bigger money would make it worthwhile for people to come from afar,” she said.
"What we were trying to do was get people here so they could have a taste of the event, see what we are about, and hopefully with this sale we can keep building on it.”
People travelled from as north as Winton in Queensland to Victoria in the south. Ms Balmain believed the use of working dogs within the cattle industry was on the rise.
"There are studies that have found the average working cattle dog is valued at about $40,000,” she said.
"Given that they are saving you about $40,000 worth of work, and staffing is hard to find, people are seeing the value in good working stock dogs.”
110 working dogs were offered for auction.
Sale gross $349,050, 98 per cent clearance.
Females average $3852 (top $11,000).
Males average $3463 (top $9,000).