North Island farmers and their dogs have won the first two titles decided at the South Island and New Zealand Sheep Dog Championships, with a near clean sweep of the top placings in the two Huntaway classes.
At the end of the South Island Straight Hunt Championship, all seven on the leaderboard were from the North Island, with only one South Island pair in the top seven of the zig zag class, which was won by Pohangina trialist Dave Stuart and Charm.
The South Island Straight Hunt Championship was won by East Coast farmer Leo Edginton and his young dog Robert.
With the heading dog runs still to be completed, it put the North in the running to make a clean sweep of all four South Island titles for a second year in a row.
It continued a remarkable run for Dave Stuart who has reached the top seven leaderboard placings at South Island or North Island championships every year since making the elite group for the first time in 2012, when he and best performer Gus were runners up in the South Island straight hunt and 5th in the national title runoff at Wanaka.
Stuart won the North Island straight hunt and was runner-up with Turk the following year at Orakei Korako, near Taupo. He then won two national zig zag titles with Gus, at Moawhango, near Taihape, in 2015, and last year at Whangara, near Gisborne.
Remarkably, Gus gives Stuart a second chance of another national title today after qualifying in 5th place for the straight hunt runoff, the dog's eighth top-seven championships runoffs in seven years.
Leo Edginton won a South Island zig zag title in his first top-seven appearance at that level, with Bully at Omarama in 2006. He then won the North Island and New Zealand zig zag titles with Bounce at Orakei Korako in 2013, and a South Island short head and yard title with Deal at Omarama two years ago.
Edginton took five dogs to the championships and still has a chance in two other classes. Last night dog Dave was still on the leader board in the short head and yard and Kim was among the last 30 to trial in the same class before the deciding of the South Island title and the fixing of the seven for the runoff.
The championships started on Monday, with the first of 297 runs in the straight hunt and 288 on the zig zag course.
The South Island hunts will end today with the last of about 250 runs in each class, with five North Island entries among the seven on the long head leaderboard, and four in with short head and yard hopes.
The national heading dog runoffs are not expected to be completed until tomorrow.
Results at the 4pm call on Day 4 of the South Island and New Zealand sheep dog championships being held at Meadow Bank Farms, Omaka, Marlborough, on May 28-June 2, 2018:
South Island championships:
Long head (top 7 after 212 runs): Tom Manson (Raupunga), Pip; Murray Child (Maungakaramea), Dice; Brian Dickison (Gore), Ash; Eion Herbert (Tapawera), Bell; Neville Child (Maungakaramea), Harry; Brian Burke (Wanganui), Stone; Steve Murphy (Whangamomona), Sharp.
Short head and yard (top 7 after 175 runs): Leo Edginton (Tolaga Bay), Dave; Graeme Brier (Piopio), Sumo; Merv Utting (Waimata Valley), Prince; Guy Peacock (Te Uri), Chief; Maurice Haakma (Ward), Brian; Kevin Lamont (Cheviot), Trump; Andy Clark (Tai Tapu), Girl.
Zig zag hunt (completed, 288 runs): Dave Stuart (Pohangina), Charm, 98pts, 1; Alex Matthews (Mangamahu), Rex, 97.5pts, 2; Mark Lourie (Parapara-Makirikiri), Bella, 97pts, 3; Scott McRae (Wellsford) , Toby, 96.75pts, 4; Tom Manson (Raupunga), Spud, 96.5pts, 5; Gerard Brown (Dannevirke), Brew, 96pts, 6; Lloyd Smith (Palmerston), Charlie, 95.5pts, 7.
Straight hunt (completed, 297 runs): Leo Edginton (Tolaga Bay), Robert, 97.5pts, 1; Murray Child (Maungakaramea), Ralf, 97.1pts, 2; Trevor Rumbal (Taumarunui), Thug, 97pts, 3; Clark Chrystal (Tutira), 96.5pts, Trix, 4; Dave Stuart (Pohangina), Gus, 96.4pts, 5; Rebecca Baynes (Wairoa), Tom, 96.2pts, 6; Alex Matthews (Mangamahu), Bonnie, 96.1pts, 7.