It's centre championships time again for Hawke's Bay sheep dog triallists, and who better to be kept in line than the president.
That may well be the mantra for the loyal subjects of centre president Clark Chrystal who goes into this week's championships at Oruawharo Station with a probably unprecedented record of five of the 12 centre championships titles over the past three years.
The record includes three in the straight hunt with Trix, at Okawa in 2015 and last year at Te Aute, and with Nell who won both on both the zig zag and straight hunt courses when the championships were held at Patoka in 2016. The Tutira farmer also won the long head with Boyd in 2015.
Te Aute club member Rocky Hawkins will be going for three in a row after claiming the short head with Jean in 2016 and the zig zag hunt last year with Kane.
Each got the season under way well a fortnight ago, with Nell and Trix sharing the hunts for Chrystal at the Omakere trials a fortnight ago, and Hawkins and Kane winning the zig zag at the Waimarama-Maraetotara trials.
While Chrystal will have four dogs at this week's trials, they won't include Trix, and he'll be resting his hopes of more silverware on Nell, Boyd, Rick and Duke.
But all the top kennels have been showing form, with Bob Bruce and Susan having last weekend added the Te Pohue club's short head and yard title to the title he won a week earlier at Waimarama-Maraetotara, while former national titles winner Stu McNeill won the straight hunt at home club Te Pohue.
Ngamatea Station shepherd Dan Haugh with Paige pipped Bruce and national champion dog Cheat for long head honours at Te Pohue, where the zig zag hunt title was won by King Country visitor Brett Kirkland with intermediate dog Quest.
The Takapau club trials start tomorrow, the heading dogs with 105 dogs starting at 7.30am and the huntaways, with 85 dogs, starting at 9am, meaning that by the time the centre championships runoffs have been completed on Sunday there will have been over 400 runs over the three days.
There'll be two judges from Northland, Peter Campbell (short head and yard) and Scott McRae (straight hunt). Ken Lobb, from Taranaki, will judge the long head, and Tony Fairweather, a former title winner when farming in the Te Pohue area and now in the Wairarapa and SHB Centre, will judge the zig zag hunt.
In Wairarapa and SHB, the Wainui Valley trials will be held near Herbertville, while in Poverty Bay trials will be held at Matawai, both tomorrow and Saturday.
TE POHUE (Feb 17-18)
Long head: Dan Haugh, Paige, 97.75pts, 1; Bob Bruce, Cheat, 97.5pts, 2; P Burke, Trace, 96.5pts, 3; Bob Bryson, Rex, 96.25pts, 4; Kevin O'Connor, Jo, 96pts, 5. Intermediate: Fraser Taylor, Nell. Maiden: Bob Bryson, Bolt.
Short head and yard: Bob Bruce, Susan, 97pts, 1; Kevin O'Connor, Jo, 96.5pts, 2; Nigel Clark, Meg, 95.5pts, 3; Graeme Duff, Jess, 94pts, 4; Bob Bryson, Rex, 93.5pts, 5. Intermediate: Nigel Clark, Meg. Maiden: K Burden, Jake.
Zig zag hunt: Brett Kirkland, Quest, 96.5pts, 1; Troy MacDonald, Jude, 96pts, 2; Mark Loye, Rich, 95.5pts, 3; Cory McCarthy, Arthur, 95pts, 4; Selwyn Dorward, Storm, 94.5pts, 5. Intermediate: Brett Kirkland, Quest. Mark Loye, Rich.
Straight hunt: Stu McNeill, Ranger, 96pts, 1; Sam Bishop Cody, 95.5pts, 2; Aaron Ryan, Doc, 95.25pts, 3; Mark Loye, Law, 95pts, 4; Alan Wills, Edge, 94.75pts, 5. Intermediate: Aaron Ryan, Doc. Maiden: Brendan Bishop, Clash.
DANNEVIRKE (Feb 10-11)
Long head: Tim Hunter, Doll, 97pts, 1; John Harvey, Bob, 96.5pts, 2; Cory Caseley, Chief, 96pts, 3; Paul Evans, Ritchie, 95.5pts, 4; Dan Haugh, Page, 95pts, 5. Intermediate: Tim Hunter, Doll. Graeme Wellington, J Lo.
Short head and yard: Nigel Clark, Jan, 92pts, 1; Charlie Lee, Sheila, 91.5pts, 2; Tim Stevenson, Spook, 89pts, 3; Hamish Linton, Chief, 88pts, 4; Mike Sugden, Rod, 87.5pts, 5. Intermediate: Tim Stevenson, Spook. Maiden: Art Eastham, Rocky.
Zig zag hunt: Simom Prouting, Vince, 98pts, 1; Stu McNeill, Ranger, 97.5pts, 2; Kyle Rhodes, Quake, 97pts, 3; Tim Stevenson, Cope, 95.5pts, 4; Lindsay Wink, Storm, 95pts, 5. Intermediate and Maiden: Kyle Rhodes, Quake.
Straight hunt: Chris Shaw, Dixie, 97.5pts, 1; Gerard Brown, Brew, 96pts, 2; Mike Hodgins, Phoenix, 95.75pts, 3; Michael Hart, Jude, 95.5pts, 4; Kerry Kilmister, Ben, 95.25pts. Intermediate: Chris Shaw, Dixie. Maiden: Gerard Brown, Brew.