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Stratford on song early in Balclutha

New Zealand representative Nathan Stratford again showed World Championship form to qualify in top spot in the Open Shearing Heats at the Balclutha Shearing Championships this morning.

Stratford shore his five in one of the fastest times (6'41) and again had close to the best quality score on the board and in the pen to finish 0.4 points ahead of Andy Mainland who was first off the board in 6'28.

They will be joined in the quarterfinals by Darin Forde, Brett Roberts, Troy Pyper, Abraham Berkelaar, Gwion Evans (Wales), Jordan Boyes, Hayden Tapp, Dean Nelmes (England), Ivan Scott (Ireland), Ringa Paewai, Hamish Mitchell (Scotland), Sam Mackrill, Matt Tumohe, Anthony Rooke (England), Stanley Allington (ireland), Lee Molkenbuhr (Falkland Islands), Brook Todd and Paul Phillips (Falkland Islands).

Alexandra's Dion Morrell finished the heats in third spot but due to sheep selection commitments for the World Championships he is unable to take his place in the next round.

UPDATE: Semifinal Results

Nathan Stratford continued his good form to maintain top billing for this afternoon's Open Shearing Semifinals following the 20-strong quarterfinals at the Balclutha Shearing Championships.

Stratford finished over 2 points clear of the field, headed by Stratford's employer Darin Forde and fellow Central Southlander Troy Pyper. Dean Nelmes of England headed the international semifinalists in fourth, followed by Brett Roberts, Ivan Scott of ireland, Andy Mainland, Scotland's Hamish Mitchell, Lee Molkenbuhr of the Falkland Islands and Brook Todd.

Scott flew through his six sheep to be the only shearer to smash the seven minute barrier (6'48), over 21 seconds clear of the next fastest, Nelmes.

Coverage of the semifinals continues this afternoon.