The final Hawke's Bay centre sheep dog trials provided major success for Kahuranaki Station shepherd Quentin Hunter and manager Paul Robinson.
While Hunter was unable to retain the Aerospread Huntaway of the Year title he won with Emma last year, he did win both of the hunts at the Taradale club trial on Friday and Saturday, while the bosses settled the outcome of the Merial Ancare Heading Dog of the Year series when he and Libby won the short head and yard.
Hunter claimed the hunts with separate dogs, including a straight hunt victory with top performer Brook.
It was enough to only marginally close the gap on Aerospread series winners and Oreka Station manager Mark Loye and 7-year-old Troop, who with 27pts finished with a 9pt buffer from the runners-up, centre president Clark Chrystal and Nell. Hunter and Brook were a further 3pts adrift, locked together in third place with Michael McMillan and Base.
It might have been, however, that Hunter derived more from the effort of maiden dog Storm, with which he completed the Taradale double in the zig zag.
Loye produced similar kennel-depth, claiming second place with Plod, and more of the spoils in the straight hunt, where he worked Jonah into fifth place.
Grant Magee's Crib was third in the zig zag, while Tony Fairweather took third place in the straight hunt with Reign, before hitting the road for the last Waikato trial of the season, and a straight hunt second placing with Tune at Cambridge.
With none of the leading Merial Ancare series opposition on the leaderboard, Robinson's shorthead and yard win enabled he and Libby to pip Dave Wallace and Blue by 3pts. The champion pair finished with 23pts, and Wallace and Blue 20pts, while Bob Bruce and Tom and Jerry Berry's Duzar third equal on 13pts.
Taradale club stalwart Selwyn Dorwood had a great win with Max on the long head course, heading a host of invaders from outside the centre, including Gisborne farmer and veteran triallist Merv Utting, who picked-up two paypackets with Prince, for second in the long head and third in the short head and yard.
Entries were well above average for a Taradale trial, with competitors from as far as Taumarunui and Gisborne chasing the last-ditch national championships qualifying points.
From even further afield were Northland father and son Neville and Stuart Child, both primarily as judges. With club and centre trials finished for the season, some Hawke's Bay triallists will be heading to next week's South Island championships near Blenheim, and even more will be competing in the week of North Island and national championships at Tutuku Trust farm, north of Taupo, starting on May 27.
Long head: Selwyn Dorward, Max, 98.5pts, 1; Merv Utting , Prince, 95.5pts, 2; Paul Evans, Bryte, 95pts, 3; Rob O'Sullivan, Tramp, 94.25pts, 4; Nigel Sinton, Mouse, 95pts, 5. Intermediate: Paul Evans, Bryte. Maiden: Janice Fraser, Fly.
Short head and yard: Paul Robinson, Libby, 95.5pts, 1; Kevin O'Connor, Key, 95.25pts, 2; Merv Utting, Prince, 95pts, 3; Scott Wedd, Jazz, 94pts, 4; Charlie Lee, Sheila, 90pts, 5. Intermediate: Kevin O'Connor, Key. Maiden: Bob Bruce, Cheat.
Zig zag hunt: Quentin Hunter, Storm, 98.5pts, 1; Mark Loye, Plod, 98.25pts, 2; Grant Magee, Crib, 98pts, 3; Bo Milner, Pearl, 97.75pts, 4; Rocky Hawkins, Toss, 97.5pts, 5. Intermediate and Maiden: Quentin Hunter, Storm.
Straight hunt: Quentin Hunter, Brook, 98.5pts, 1; Mark Loye, Troop, 98.25pts, 2; Tony Fairweather, Reign, 98pts, 3; Josh Kelleher, Charlie, 97.5pts, 4; Mark Loye, Jonah, 97pts, 5. Intermediate: Josh Kelleher, Charlie. Maiden: Guy Bryson, Zena.