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Top three hopes lead the way in World shears

The three leading World machine shearing title hopes are living to pre-championships form by hogging the top three places after the second of three preliminary rounds at the World shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill.

Former champion Gavin Mutch has maintained his place at the top of the rankings.

The Scots hope, who lives in New Zealand and farms at remote Whangamomona in Taranaki, headed the 54-strong field at the end of the first round on lambs yesterday, and second in the second-shear round today.

His combined total of 48.6pts after the two rounds of five sheep each kept him in front in a contest-within-a-contest with Kiwi shearers and fellow title favourites John Kirkpatrick (49.186pts), of Napier, and hometoen hope Nathan Stratford (49.931pts).

Next placed is England shearer Dean Nelmes, who as a Senior class shearer first made the England team in 2012, and whoi was in fourth place today, having been second in the first round yesterday.

World lambshearing record holder and Irish shearer Ivan Scott (pictured) remained in fifth place overall in a list in which the first 12 in the first round all remained in the top dozen today, striving for places in the eventual top 12 for the semi-finals after the final preliminary round on fullwool ewes tomorrow.

Scott, from Co Donegal, holds the two major solo lamshearing records of 744 in eight hours shorn near Taupo in 2012, and the 867 he shore in nine hours in England last July, breaking by a single lamb the previous record set by New Zealand shearer Dion King in 2007.

But now in his fourth World Championships has shorn in just one final, fourth in the teams final at home in Ireland three years ago.

The top 12 provisionally after the second round were Gavin Mutch (Scotland) 48.6pts, 1; John Kirkpatrick (New Zealand) 49.186pts, 2; Nathan Stratford (New Zealand) 49.331pts, 3; Dean Nelmes (England) 53.301pts, 4; Ivan Scott (Ireland) 53.926pts, 5; Jack Robinson (Northern Ireland) 55.845pts, 6; Gwion Evans ((Wales) 56.574pts, 7; Shannon Warnest (Australia) 56.792pts, 8; Ian Jones (Wales) 58.431pts, 9; Ian Montgomery(Northern Ireland) 59.743pts, `0; Lee Molkenbuhr (Falkland Islands) 60.081pts, 11; Aaron Bell (Cook Islands) 62.044pts, 12;