A farm manager who travelled half the length of Hawke's Bay to support his shepherd at the region's sheep dog trial championships headed home with one of the major titles when the event finished on Sunday.
To fill in time, Corey Ruwhiu, who manages Kauhouroa, north of Wairoa, decided to give himself a single long-shot hope and won the Zig Zag Hunt with three-year-old Intermediate bitch Code.
It was the one dog he took from his own team on the 190km ride to Crowthorpe where the championships were part of the Taradale Sheep Dog Trial Club's three-day 125th trials celebration weekend.
But there was no such fortune for shepherd Ben Collister who took three dogs, but did not reach any of the runoffs, comprising the top five Hawke's Bay centre dogs in each class from the Taradale trials on Friday and Saturday.
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Otherwise the titles went to the well-known names, including two more centre titles to centre president Rocky Hawkins, claiming the short head and yard title with Jean and the straight hunt with Box, with a $1000 bonus for winning with a heading dog and a huntaway. Hawkins and Box also won the Taradale club title.
Former president Bob Bruce and well-performed Susan also claimed a double, winning the centre long head class after top-qualifying for the runoff by winning the Taradale title. It was a big boost as Bruce heads into the islands and national championships' series hoping to add another New Zealand title to the long head victory he had with Cheat in 2017.
Ruwhiu, grandson of former well-performed trialist Howard Woodmass, of Puketapu, said while he enjoys doing the trials he sticks mainly close to home at the Wairoa and Ruakituri clubs' trials held about the second weekend of each March and others not too far away.
They initially would have included the Centre championships centre championships, which had to be transferred to the Taradale club after original host-club Mohaka had to cancel because of sheep staggers among the target flock.
"This is the first time I've been here," said Ruwhiu, who had been runner-up in the Taradale club zig zag behind form Hawke's Bay competitor Colin Bayliss and Tahi, who as visitors, from Poverty Bay, were not eligible to contest the Hawke's Bay titles.
In the same situation was Taihape trialist Steve Ponsonby, who won the club short head and yard with Chook.
The Taradale club was originally the Central Hawke's Bay club, which in 1893 staged one of the earliest sheep dog trials in the North Island.