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Dobbs dominates on opening day

New Zealand blade shearer Tony Dobbs has taken the first jump on his opposition ahead of the World blade shearing championships with a top performance in the Southland All Nations blade shearing heats on the opening day of the 2017 World shearing and woolhandling champinoships in Invercargill.

Dobbs, a Fairlie farmer who came out of shearing retirement to shear for New Zealand at the 2014 World Championships in Ireland and finish third, is targeting defending World champion Mayenzeke and fellow South African blades master Bangani Joel who he must beat to win the major blade shearing title at the four-day championships which started with the All Nations events today and end with six World Championship finals on Saturday.

The All Nations championships are being shorn in three machines grades (Open, Senior, and Intermediate), while there are also two woolhandling grades (Open and Senior), and one woolhandling grade. The Heats in all but the Open-grade events were held today.

The first World Championship events, the machine shearing first round heats, take place tomorrow.

Today, Dobbs lined up with the South Africans among 35 in the All Nations blade shearing heats, and topped the qualifiers, heading Shweni by almost seven points, with Joel, a World blade shearing record holder, qualifying third of 12 for the semi-finals.

Dobbs had a major victory over South Africa's best in a three-way match also against Australia in Errowanbang, NSW, late in 2014 and now aims for a double in Invercargill, in the All Nations and in the
World Championship blade shearing event for which the heats are on Friday.

Two New Zealand-based up-and-coming overseas team representatives had a confidence-boosting opening day today as they qualified for the semi-final of the All Nations Intermediate machine shearing championship.

They are Chile national Luis Pincol, who shears in Canterbury, and Waipawa shearer Aaron Bell, who will shear in the World Championships for Cook Islands.

The All Nations Senior shearing's 12 semi-final qualifiers, from 58 who took part in their heats, were headed by Jade Maguire, of Winton, and in addition to fifth-placed Pincol and tenth-placed Bell included three others from overseas in Nick Greaves, from England, Ilah Rhys Jones, from Wales, and Gilles Grancher, from France.

Bell is one of several New Zealanders who will compete for countries of their ancestry in the World Championships. A winner recently of significant Senior events at Taihape and Marton, his father's mother is from Aitutaki.

Others are teammate Marley Waihape, of Mataura, and Switzerland team woolhandlers Gabriella Schmidt and 11-year-old daughter Charis Morrell, of Alexandra, while Scottish open shearing hope Gavin Mutch, Japan representative Shun Oishi, Mongolian shearer Enkhnasan Clhuluunbaatar and Norway woolhandler Emily Perry all live in New Zealand.

The All Nations Senior heats included four of the World Championships teams members, but none reached the semi-final, the best being Gabriella Schmidt, who lives in Central Otago and will represent Switzerland in the main event starting on Friday.

A young Welsh shearer has thrown out the challenge to young competitors in the World shearing and woolhandling championships support events by qualifying in first place for the Southland All Nations Intermediate Shearing semi-finals.

Jonathan Rees, of Brecon and among dozens of young UK shearers in New Zealand for the season and to watch the World event, was one 56 in the Intermediate heats that kicked-off the four-day woolfest today in front of a crowd which grew steadily from about 600 that watched the first sheep shorn just after 11am.

Based for part of the summer in Central Hawke's Bay, Rees was one of 12 to make the cut, including four from overseas.

While several less-experienced World Championships entrants competed in the Intermediate event, a chance to tune their gear before the bigger challenges ahead, none made it through to the next of stage, leaving them to focus on the World Championship event starting late tomorrow.

Among the qualifiers are 2016 Golden Shears Junior shearing champion Sam Davison, of Masterton, and female shearers Brya Harrison, of Okaihau, Northland, and Dannevirke-based Anne-Lise Humstad, of Norway.

The event continues from 8am Thursday with live-streaming of every session here.

Full results are available here.