Blade shearing champion Tony Dobbs reached a personal milestone when he won the New Zealand Spring Shears Open Blade Shearing Final in Waimate on Saturday.
It was the Fairlie farmer's 12th win in the final, spanning 35 years of the 51 years of the championships, as he chased the honour of having more wins in any grade than any other competitor at Waimate, most notably surpassing King Country legend Sir David Fagan's 11 wins in the Open Machine-Shearing between 1985 and 2012.
"That was my goal," said Dobbs, who also led New Zealand to another transtasman blade shearing test match victory and who now moves on to the next goal of retaining his place in the New Zealand team for the World Championships in France next July.
He is the favourite to claim one of the two positions, with three competitions remaining before the eight-round selection series ends at the Canterbury show next month.
Runner-up in the 2017 World blades final in Invercargill, Dobbs has 58 points from a maximum 60 available in the current selection series to date.
Hot on the heels of his moccasins is Geraldine shearer Allan Oldfield, clearly second-placed and out to emulate father Phil Oldfield, who was third in the 2017 World Final.
Allan Oldfield was runner-up in Saturday's final, beaten by just 0.94pts, while third went to an Australian team member Johnathon Dalla.
Dobbs is taking nothing for granted and when asked whether this season and the World Championships could be his swansong, he said: "It's jumping the gun a bit. I've got to get to France first."
Similarly-aspiring southern machine shearing ace Nathan Stratford completed a rare season-opening double by adding the Spring Shears' Open machine-shearing title to the national merinos title he won at Alexandra seven days earlier, although the real target for World Championships selection will be the Golden Shears and New Zealand Championships' in the North Island in March.
Winning by just over two points from runner-up and 2018 CP Wool New Zealand UK tour teammate David Buick, Stratford was scoring his 9th win in the Waimate final, and his 65th win in 22 seasons of Open-class shearing, in which he first scored the Alexandra-Waimate in 2006.
Masterton shearer Paerata Abraham was third, and a feature of the six-man final was the return to top competition of 2013 and 2014 winner, 2010 World and Golden Shears champion and Waipawa shearer Cam Ferguson, who was first to the finish, shearing the 16 sheep in 16min 38.63sec, the only one of the six finalists to go under 17 minutes.
Double World Woolhandling Champion Joel Henare won the Spring Shears' Open Woolhandling title for a third time in a row. Originally from Gisborne and now living in Motueka, Henare is expecting 2017-2018 to be his last season in regular top competition, with a goal of defending his title in France.
With Alexandra winner Pagan Karauria settling for third behind, Henare and runner-up Cheri Peterson, of Milton, Henare takes a one-point lead in the South Island rounds of a World Championships team selection series which ends at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March.
A feature of lower-grade events at the two-day Waimate Championships was the continued rise of top 2017-2018 season Junior Woolhandler Tyler Hira, from Onewhero, who won her first Senior Woolhandling title.
Lionel Taumata, from Taumarunui and based in Gore, won the Senior Shearing Final, John Cherrington, from Ngaruawahia, had his first-ever win in the Intermediate Final, and Brodie Horrell of Gore, retained the Junior title, which he won in his only finals appearance last season.
The country's only Intermediate blade shearing event was won by Ken Robertson, of Timaru, while the Junior Woolhandling title was won by finals newcomer Makayla Crawford, of Palmerston North.
South Island competitions heads into a series of mainly A and P show contests in Canterbury, the North Island shearing sports season starts next Saturday at the Poverty Bay A and P Show in Gisborne, followed by the Great Raihania Shears at the Royal New Zealand Show in Hastings six days later.
RESULTS from the Waimate Shears New Zealand Spring shearing and woolhandling championships at Waimate on Friday-Saturday, October 5-6-2018:
Transtasman blade shearing 4 sheep): New Zealand 103.882pts (Tony Dobbs 12min 38.36sec, 47.918pts; Allen Gemmell 13min29.28sec, 55.964pts) beat Australia 117.515pts (Johnathon Dalla 14min 50.78sec, 54.539pts; Ken French 15min 54.53sec, 62.9765pts) by 13.633pts.
Open final (16 sheep): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 17min 38.87se, 56.631pts, 1; David Buick (Pongaroa) 17min 44.53sec, 58.914pts, 2; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 17min 7.81sec, 59.453pts, 3; Cam Ferguson (Waipawa) 16min 38.63sec, 59.869pts, 4; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 17min 50.89sec, 61.7945pts, 5; Ant Frew (Pleasant Point) 18min 54.62sec, 65.7935pts, 6.
Open Novice final (10 sheep): Ethan Pankhurst (Masterton) 13min 1.13sec, 45.7565pts, 1; Corey Smith (Waimate) 12min 45.52sec, 47.076pts, 2; Corey White (Rakaia) 12min 30.22sec, 47.411pts, 3; Willy McSkimming (Taumarunui) 13min 12.78sec, 48.739pts, 4; Phoenix Hawkins (Rakaia) 14min 42.85sec, 50.5425pts, 5; Jarrod Morgan (Waimate) 15min 29.25sec, 56.1625pts, 6.
Senior final (8 sheep): Lionel Taumata (Gore) 10min 51.87sec, 39.9685pts, 1; Jade McGuire-Ratima (Winton) 12min 23.37sec, 41.6685pts, 2; Alex Smith (Rakaia) 10min 42.2sec, 41.85pts, 3; Connor Puha (Kimbolton) 11min 44.07sec, 42.0785pts, 4; Brandon McGuire-Ratima (Winton) 11min 59.22sec, 42.446pts, 5; Jordie Grant (Amberley) 13min 11.99sec, 49.055pts, 6.
Intermediate (5 sheep): John Cherrington (Huntly) 9min 36.97sec, 35.8485pts, 1; Mitchel Menzies (Ranfurly) 9min 53.67sec, 38.2835pts, 2; Johnathan Painter (Pahiatua) 11min 59.01sec, 42.3505pts, 3; Makaira Keane (Timaru), 12min22ec, 43.1pts, 4; Brayden Clifford (Waikaka) 12min 29.88sec, 43.894pts, 5; Tyson Crown (Mataura) 11min 57.86sec, 45.093pts, 6.
Junior final (3 sheep): Henry Mayo (Dorset, England) 8min 38.42sec, 31.2543pts, 1; Brodie Horrell (Gore) 6min 52.06sec, 32.603pts, 2; Ryan Kirk (Mataura) 8min 19.34sec, 36.967pts, 3; Adele Lemercier (France) 7min 52.97sec, 41.6485pts, 4; Quentin Mathieu (France) 8min 7.92sec, 43.396pt46.3932pts, 5; Myles White (Waimate) 10min 14.53sec, 6.
Open blades final(4 sheep): Tony Dobbs (Fairlie) 13min 24.56sec, 49.73pts, 1; Allan Oldfield (Geraldine) 13min 3.41sec, 50.67pts, 2; Johnathon Dalla (South Australia) 14min 26.05sec, 3; Allen Gemmell (Rangiora) 12min 52.94sec, 52.9pts, 4; Phil Oldfield (Geraldine) 14min 27.63sec, 53.88pts, 5; Scott McKay (Christchurch) 12min 53.8sec, 54.69pts, 6.
Intermediate blades (2 sheep): Ken Robertson (Fairlie) 15min 25.72sec, 79.286pts, 1; Lucie Grancher (France) 21min 24.37sec, 93.7185pts, 2; Quentin Mathieu (France) 20min 39.67sec, 103.4835pts, 3.
Open final: Joel Henare (Gisborne/Motueka) 139.05pts, 1; Cheri Peterson (Milton) 153.944pts, 2; Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 157.274pts, 3; Kelly Macdonald (Lake Hawea) 174.798pts, 4.
Senior final: Tyler Hira (Onewhero) 143.88pts, 1; Maiden Elers (Mataura) 161.662pts, 2; Natal;ie Collier (Gore) 215.028pts, 3; Nova Elers (Mataura) 232.95pts, 4.
Junior final: Makayla Crawford (Palmerston North) 154.608pts, 1; Amber Poihipi (Ohai) 170.206pts, 2; Sarah Davis (Napier) 173.974pts, 3; Olly Kingi (Timaru) 177.858pts, 4.