Terrier Jazz set to defend race title

Sprinting start . . . Johanna O'Neill (12), of North Taieri, and her dog, Jazz, get ready for the terrier race at the Otago Taieri A&P Show in Mosgiel on Saturday. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

An action-packed weekend on the Taieri will include a bunny-mad fox terrier set to defend her title.

Johanna O’Neill (12) said she was ready to race her 3-year-old dog, Jazz, in the terrier race at the Otago Taieri A&P Show in Mosgiel on Saturday.

She has raced her every year since she was given the feisty pup for her 9th birthday.

“I love it.”

The show is one of three big events to hit the Taieri this weekend. The other events are the Brighton Veteran Car Rally on Saturday and the Brighton Gala Day on Sunday.

For the annual terrier race, a rabbit pelt is dragged behind a vehicle to lure the eager pack towards the finish line.

As the vehicle approaches the start line, owners struggle to hold on to their eager pets as they wait for a signal to let them loose.

In Jazz’s first two outings, she led the race early on but was passed both times, placing second.

But last year, being a bit older and wiser, she held on to win the race by a whisker.

The pair had not been training for the race because the desire in Jazz to chase rabbits was as strong as ever, Johanna said.

The wee dog regularly chased rabbits across her family’s 12ha lifestyle block in North Taieri.

To motivate Jazz to chase rabbits was easy – it took just one word: “bunny”.

Despite Jazz’s best efforts, she had never caught a rabbit – they were too quick, or clever and knew how to disappear into a hawthorn hedge.

Johanna’s father Peter O’Neill, a show committee member, said the show was a chance for “townie kids” to see farm animals, such as sheep, goats, pigs and horses.

However, cattle categories would not feature again, as precautions continued against the spread of Mycoplasma bovis.

Also on Saturday, a fleet of nearly 30 vintage cars will travel from the Octagon to the Brighton Domain.

New Zealand Vintage Car Club Otago branch chairwoman Nicola Wilkinson said participants in the 65th annual Brighton Veteran Car Rally would park their vehicles in the Octagon carriageway from 9.45am.

The first vehicle would depart about 11am.

Former television presenter Dougal Stevenson would comment on each vehicle before Mayor Dave Cull flagged it away.

The fleet would travel to the Exchange, up Maclaggan St, down Stone St, along Kaikorai Valley Rd and through Green Island and Waldronville to the domain.

She expected the first vehicle to reach the domain by noon and for the fleet remain there until about 3pm, Mrs Wilkinson said.

There will be more action on in the domain on Sunday, when up to 12,000 people are expected to attend the Brighton Gala, which will run from 10am to 5pm.