When it comes to sheep dog trialling, Frasertown farmer John Foss' big hope for a breakthrough in the sport he loves is more than a little bit of a gem.
It is a dog called Gem, which showed sparkling form to win her master the Hawke's Bay A and P trial which ended at the Royal New Zealand Show in Hastings yesterday.
"I wasn't expecting that, especially for just her third outing," said Foss after winning yesterday's 15-dog runoff, the top 15 from 2.5 days of trials which started with a field of about 150.
Gem has only just started trialling and is still a maiden going into the new trials season but, not quite 2 years old, she provided Foss with only his second win in about 10 years of trying.
The first was provided by Gem's mum, Dell, on her second birthday eight years ago in the short head event at the Ruakituri club trials north of Wairoa.
The trials over the last three days were among several agri-sports events which proved popular at the show, including the Great Raihania Shears, which had winners from as far away as Otago and Southland.
The well-travelled winners were Monica Potae, of Milton, who won the Open woolhandling title, only her second win in the top grade, and Senior shearing final victor Linton Palmer, of Dipton, home of just-ousted Prime Minister Bill English. Linton was in the Bay on a quick holiday weekend trip to visit his partner's family.
The feature was the Open shearing final in which former multiple Great Raihania Shears Opens winner Dion King, from Flaxmere, made a determined bid to regain the title by shearing his 20 sheep in 17min 5sec.
But the 11-seconds gap to reigning Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Rowland Smith, of Maraekakaho, wasn't near enough to stop Smith claiming a 21st New Zealand win in a row. When all time and quality points were calculated, Smith won by a comfortable 3.8pts.
The Intermediate shearing final was won by Daniel Seed, of Woodville, and Paora Moanaroa, of Eketahuna, won the Junior final.
The Junior woolhandling final was won by Ash Boyce, of Dannevirke, and the Junior woolhandling final by Teresa Lambert, of Napier.
The farm fencing doubles was won on Thursday by Matt Jones, of Levin and Tim Stafford, of Marton, with second place going to Hawke's Bay pairing of national champion and former World Champion Shane Bouskill and son Tony.
Sheep dog trials: John Foss and Gem, 1, Graham Ryder and Ted, 2, Merv Utting and Prince, 3, Merv Utting and Fern 4, Nigel Clark and Meg, 5.
Intermediate: N Clark and Meg, 1, J Foss and Gem, 2, P Williams and Trump, 3.
Maiden: C Robertson and Ella, 1, J Foss and Gem, 2, B Strong and Skip, 3.
Novice: M Hoar and Gem, 1, W Pickney and Van, 2, W van Bonein and Pip, 3.
Great Raihania Shears:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Maraekakaho) 17min 16sec, 59.45pts, 1; Dion King (Flaxmere) 17min 5sec, 63.25pts, 2; Peter Chilcott (Napier) 19min 4sec, 67.4pts, 3; Murray Henderson (Halcomb) 19min 36sec, 72.4pts, 4.
Senior final (12 sheep): Linton Palmer (Dipton) 17min 38sec, 61.233pts, 1; Tegwyn Bradley (Woodville) 16min 48sec, 64.067pts, 2; Tomas Lima (Levin) 17min 31sec, 66.883pts, 3; Paul Swann (Wairoa) 17min 58sec, 67.983pts, 4.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): Daniel Seed (Woodville) 8min 36sec, 36.6pts, 1; Caleb Cheer (Waipukurau) 7min 48sec, 48.6pts, 2; Tarn Hollis (-) 8min 44sec, 55.4pts, 3; Carmen Smith (Pongaroa) 10min 121ec, 56.35pts, 4.
Junior final (3 sheep): Paora Moanaraoa (Eketahuna) 5min 28sec, 33.067pts, 1; Brook Hamerton (Hastings) 6min 53sec, 38.317pts, 2; Keith Swann (Wairoa) 6min 52sec, 40.6pts, 3; Atawhai Hadfield (Wairoa) 8min 36sec, 45.8pts, 4.
Open final: Monica Potae (Milton) 140pts, 1; Pagan Rimene (Alexandra) 140.4pts, 2; Sheree Alabaster (Taihape) 151.6pts, 3; Maryanne Baty (Gisborne) 152.8pts, 4.
Senior final: Ash Boyce (Dannevirke) 98.8pts, 1; Angela Stevens (Napier) 104pts, 2; Peketai Puna (Napier) 107.4pts, 3; Chiquita Tamepo (Tikitiki) 135.8pts, 4.
Junior final: Teresa Lambert (Napier) 119pts, 1; Tyler Hira (Onewhero) 126.8pts, 2; Summer Pritchard (Pongaroa) 143.6pts, 3; Cortez Ostler (Dannevirke) 178.6pts, 4.
Doubles: Matt Jones (Levin) and Tim Stafford (Marton) 1, Shane Bouskill (Tikokino) and Tony Bouskill (Napier) 2, Jeff Joines (Te Horo) and Mark Lambert (Bulls) 3, Jason Van Beers (Porangahau) and Jack Richardson (Waipukurau) 4.