The top heading dog pairing of Central Hawke's Bay farmer Bob Bruce and Cheat was straight back into winning form at the Hawke's Bay Sheep Dog Trial Centre's earliest-ever season-opening trials at Bruce's home Te Aute club.
Winners of Hawke's Bay's Merial Ancare top heading dog award in 2015, and co-winners last year, Bruce and Cheat headed a Hawke's Bay domination of the long head class at the Te Aute club trials on the club's Brownrigg Barker Block at the three-day trials that ended on Sunday.
There was, however, a strong outside representation in the unusually-early trials, Te Aute's usually being in April.
With 400-plus dogs at the trials, it was a different story in other classes, won by triallists crossing the island for the event. The short head and yard was won by Taranaki triallist Ian Broadhiurst, with Gem, the zig zag hunt by former Hawke's Bay triallists Colin Bayliss and Pearl, now based in the Poverty Bay centre, and the straight hunt was won by maiden dog Klay and triallist Mark Lourie, of Fordell, Whanganui.
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Many of the heading dogs have now headed for Waipukurau for the Central Hawke's Bay A and P Show's Tux Yarding Challenge, which starts today and ends on Saturday.
The rest of the Hawke's Bay club trials season doesn't resume until late January, and Te Aute stages the North Island championships next May.
Results of the Te Aute Dog Trial Club trials at Te Aute Trust Rd (Nov 2-4):
Long head: Bob Bruce, Cheat, 96pts, 1; Graeme Wellington, Shamus, 95pts, 2; Rocky Hawkins, Jean, 94.5pts, 3; Graeme Wellington, Murphy, 94pts, 4; Graeme Northcott, Hope, 93pts, 5. Intermediate and Maiden: Bob Bruce, Jaco.
Short head and yard: Ian Broadhurst, Gem, 94.5pts, 1; Scott McRae, Cory, 93.5pts, 2; Peter Williams, Trump, 93pts, 3; Brenda O'Leary, Tote, 90.5pts, 4; Neville Child, Harry, 90pts, 5. Intermediate: Peter Williams, Trump. Maiden: Campbell Streeter, Sue.
Zig zag hunt: Colin Bayliss, Pearl, 97.75pts, 1; Clark Chrystal, Trix, 97.5pts, 2; Graeme Dickson, Maude, 97.25pts, 3; Stu McNeil, Ranger, 97pts, 4; Sam Bishop, Cody, 96.75pts, 5. Intermediate and maiden: Samantha Shaw, Mannie.
Straight hunt: Mark Lourie, Klay, 98.5pts, 1; Rachel Dobson, Judge, 98.25pts, 2; Annie Flood, Smoke, 98pts, 3; Mark Duffy, Shield, 97.5pts, 4; Stu McNeil, Bay, 97.25pts, 5. Intermediate and maiden: Mark Lourie, Klay.