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Canine chaos on and off mountain at the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

June 28, 2013 DESTINATION No Comments Email Email

Mike and his dog Bruno Taking 1st place with an amazing long howIt was the pooches turn to take centre stage on Day 7 of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival as the usual chaos of the Speight’s Dog Derby and Dog Barking events unfolded on and off the mountain.

Forty four country dogs mixed it up with town hounds and their masters on the snowy slopes of Coronet Peak for the legendary Speight’s Dog Derby, the longest running event in the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival.

After riding the Greengates Express, competitors and their dogs then skidded, slid, tumbled and rolled their way down Coronet Peak’s Shirtfront in the chaotic fashion the event is known for. The country division had the added challenge of whistling the working dogs up a steep course and back down again.

Young local farmer Leo Hamilton (22) and Cook from Mt Nicholas Station won the country section, with Southlanders Matt Watson and Kay and Jeremy Heinz and Ben from Waikaia taking second and third.

More locals, Dak Ingry and Zora were the winning ‘townies’ just pipping Queenstown hounds and their people Sam Grigg and Phoebe and Hilton Scott and Rizila who took second and third.

American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Manager Lisa Buckingham said that the Speight’s Dog Derby was “a firm favourite with festival-goers and locals”. Despite long days on the farm as a result of the still snowy conditions in many parts of rural Southland and Otago, there was a good turnout.

“The Speight’s Dog Derby at Coronet Peak always provides a lot of laughs and barks, and it was great to see the local farmers and their dogs taking time out to enjoy the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival,” said Lisa Buckingham.Leo Hamilton from Mt Nicholas Station taking out 1st place in th

Dogs and their masters then made their way downtown to Earnslaw Park for the Speight’s Dog Barking competition, vying for the title of Loudest Bark – human or canine. The crowd laughed and cheered as each of the forty six dogs took to the podium for their X Factor moment of glory.

Some poor pooches suffered from the inevitable stage fright and owners had to step in for their dogs resulting in Tom Falconer standing in for Tye and taking out the prize for Best Human Bark.

The Speight’s Dog Barking champion for 2013 was a crooning Bruno, best friend of farmer Michael Cooney visiting from Wairoa. Bruno took to the hay bale stage just as the Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade siren rang out and chose to harmonise with a winsome howl rather than a classical bark and was immediately the crowd favourite.

The Best Dressed Dog was Chris Thorne’s Mila modelling a doggie Swandri.

Last night an overwhelmingly female audience laughed and talked all things fashion, femme and fitness with motivational speaker and style guru Lisa O’Neill at the ‘Warm up your Wardrobe’ event at the Millennium Hotel.

The first performance of Steve Martin’s hilarious and moving play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, was met with applause by the 130 strong audience. The show runs each night at 8pm until Saturday at the Queenstown International Airport Departure Lounge and a limited number of tickets are still available.

Highlights for Day 8 of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival tomorrow include the Speight’s Dodgeball Lisa Oneil, Lisa BuckinghamChampionship at Earnslaw Park, where 32 teams will fight it out to be champions of the court with national selectors looking on. As you’d expect from Festival, it will provide plenty of laughs and goofball moments with an award for Best Dressed team, the dress code being ‘the wackier, the better’.

Tomorrow night, skiers and boarders will head to the hills for the first of the season’s Corona Coronet Peak Night Skiing. George FM’s Dan Aux will be on the mixing desk for the night while snowsports lovers and night owls can carve it up under the night sky with a dance and beverage or two.

Later in the evening families and couples can cuddle up and relax in their cars to watch one of two drive-in movies showing at the Remarkables Park Red Barn. Perfect for the kids, Eight Below starts at 6pm and to keep things on the winter theme, Cool Runnings, the hilarious movie about the Jamaican Bobsled team starts at 9pm and retro ski gear is optional!

A note from organisers: Please make sure you have a radio with a band expander as they will be using 107FM”.

To see the full line up of the programme and individual event details check out the complete American Express Queenstown Winter Festival calendar online at www.winterfestival.co.nz or pick up a programme at information outlets throughout the region.

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