An enterprising sheep stole some of the limelight at the Ellesmere A and P Show on Saturday, gatecrashing a ribbon ceremony and masquerading as an alpaca after escaping from a pen at the shearing shed.
The cunning plan came unstuck when there weren't enough ribbons to go around, leaving the opportunist ovine without so much as a stitch of silk to wear, with barely anywhere to hide and looking decidedly sheepish as it stood beside the be-ribboned alpaca section winners with their owners in the main oval.
Jason Palmer, organiser of the shearing competition at the show at Leeston, 40km southwest of Christchurch, said it wasn't the only sheep that made such a stark bid for freedom, while there were some keen to flee in the same unshorn and good quality condition as when they had arrived, but he wasn't too worried.
"Sheep during the day gave a good crowd spectacle by jumping out of the pens both before and after being shorn," he said. "One ended up making friends with an alpaca."
The shearing quality of the sheep was reflected back on the boards, where some of the country's top-ranked shearers from last season and a visitor from England were claiming the major prizes.
New Zealand transtasman series representative Troy Pyper, of Invercargill, won the open final, claiming best time and board quality points for a comfortable victory by 3.35pts margin over runner-up Ant Frew, of Pleasant Point. Pyper had shorn the 12 sheep in 12min 22sec and beat Frew to the finish by half-a-minute.
Gore shearer Lionel Taumata, the No 3-ranked senior shearer in New Zealand last summer, scored his eighth win in the grade and second in a week, while Brayden Clifford, also of Gore and No 3-ranked Junior last season celebrated his step-up with victory in the intermediate final in which just 1.05pts separated the four shearers.
Henry Mayo, of Dorset, England, also made it two in a row by winning the junior final by 0.45pts from runner-up and Lincoln student Cody Mackinder, from Matiere, in the North Island.
The shearing competition was the third in the South Island in a nationwide programme of about 60 shearing sports shows throughout the country in the 2018-2019 season.
Results from the Ellesmere A and P Show shearing championships at Leeston on Saturday, October 14, 2018:
Open final (12 sheep): Troy Pyper (Invercargill) 12min 22pts, 43,18pts, 1; Ant Frew (Pleasant Point) 12min 54sec, 46.53pts, 2; Eli Cummings (Pleasant Point) 13min 45sec, 47.75pts, 3; Ringakaha Paewai (Gore) 13min 54sec, 49.95pts, 4.
Senior final (6 sheep): Lionel Taumata (Gore) 8min 1sec, 31.55pts, 1; Jade Maguire-Ratima (Winton) 7min 40sec, 32pts, 2; Alex Smith (Rakaia) 8min 59sec, 35.28pts, 3; Sarah Higgins (Blenheim) 9min 44sec, 35.87pts, 4.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): Brayden Clifford (Gore) 7min 25sec, 30.45pts, 1; James Dickson (Gore) 7min 31sec, 30,75pts, 2; Edward Harrington (Akaroa) 7min 16sec, 31pts, 3; Sam Bryan (Hororata) 6min 14sec, 31.5pts, 4.
Junior final (2 sheep): Henry Mayo (Dorset, England) 6min 23sec, 31.65pts, 1; Cody Mackinder (Matiere) 6min 32sec, 32.1pts, 2; Kelly Poehls (Makara) 7min 33sec, 34.65pts, 3; Rory Harrigan (Feilding) 6min 58sec, 46.9pts, 4.