Just two weeks in New Zealand and a win at Te Kuiti – as the sign says at the town's entrance: "Shearing Capital of the World.
That's the lofty start to the season downunder for young Welsh shearer Llyr Jones, 20, who last night won the North King Country YFC Speedshear senior final at the Riverside Lodge in Te Kuiti.
From Llanrwst in North Wales, he had shown some hint of early form when 5th in the Matiere Cossie Club's speedshear, between Te Kuiti and Taumarunui.
Tonight it was clear-cut as he shore his final lamb in 30.58sec, winning the $300 first prize by almost a second from runner-up and Southland-based leading New Zealand Senior shearer Lionel Taumata, from Taumarunui, who won a senior speedshear during the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti in April.
Read more rural events articles here.
They emerged from a field of 17, seven more than the open speedshear in which home-town shearers from two eras battled for the major prize of $700.
Neither winner Jack Fagan, 26, nor third-placed Tom Moorhouse, 31, of Piopio, were born when runner-up when runner-up Digger Balme first shore in the open class 32 years ago.
But it was close, Fagan's final shear of 22.5sec, claiming a winning purse of $700, beat Balme's best by just 0.78sec.
First-round disqualification ended the hopes of expected major challenger and Marton shearer Jimmy "Superfly" Samuels, who had won three of the biggest speedshears in New Zealand this year – the 18th annual Te Puna Speedshear near Tauranga in January, the Rural Games Speedshear in Palmerston North in March and the open speedshear at the New Zealand Shears.
On Saturday he was just back from several successes in Australia, where the "Quick Shear" events are held most weekends.
It included winning an open title and $6000 of the $15,000 on offer at the Young Services Club in New South Wales on October 27, and for a bit of versatility before returning to New Zealand $3500 at darts in Sydney.
The Young win came after a trip of 800km from an unsuccessful defence of the open title at the Mortlake Quick Shear in Victoria, first held in 1989 and claiming to be the oldest quick shear or speedshear in the world.
The Young quick shear was one of at least four in Australia in October offering open final first place money of $4000 or more.
An event for local farm staff on Saturday was won by Brian Kelly.
It was the second night of the James Ritchie King Country Speedshear Circuit which continues with the North Island Speedshear Championships at Te Kuiti's Waitete rugby club on January 11.
Results of the North King Country YFC Speedshear at Riverside Lodge, Te Kuiti, on Saturday, December 8, 2018:
Open Speedshear: Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 22.5sec, 1; Digger Balme (Te Kuiti) 23.28sec, 2; Tom Moorhouse (Piopio) 24.76sec, 3.
Senior Speedshear: Llyr Jones (Wales) 30.58sec, 1; Lionel Taumata (Gore) 31.56sec, Quinton Chase (Taumarunui) 34.24sec, 3.