New Zealand shearers are off to a good start in the quest to take the coveted title of world champion shearer.
The 18th Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are being held in the French town of Le Dorat.
- Kiwi-born shearer shatters world merino record
- 'Behind Baaaas': Country cop helps out in shearing shed
In temperatures over 35C, 63 shearers from 34 countries took part in the first round of world shearing championship section, with New Zealanders dominating.
The first round was led by Scotland kingpin and Taranaki farmer Gavin Mutch, who won the title in Masterton in 2012.
A single penalty point across the five sheep in the round enabled him to move into third place ahead of Irish world records holder Ivan Scott, who had the quicker time.
A 40-year-old farmer near remote Whangamomona, but from Huntly in Aberdeenshire, Mutch blasted the field apart with a fastest time of four minutes, 15 seconds. The time was 13 seconds quicker than Smith.
Meanwhile Rowland Smith and Cam Ferguson have moved into some confidence-building space by each qualifying in the top five for the All-Nations Open Championships semi-final.
The top five of the 18 qualifiers in the All-Nations event are all based in New Zealand, albeit headed by Scots international and Taranaki farmer Gavin Mutch.
Surprise next-men-in were Masterton shearer Ethan Pankhurst and Ant Frew, of Pleasant Point, with Smith next and Ferguson fifth.
Jack Fagan of Te Kuiti also qualified, in 11th place.
The All Nations semi-final and final will be shorn on Saturday, while the world championship will be decided on Sunday.