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2017 Shearing Champs News and Media Releases

World shearing champs ready to roll in Invercargill - February 7, 2017


Hundreds of shearers and woolhandlers have arrived in Southland for the 40th anniversary World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

The four-day event opening tomorrow (Wednesday) is being held in Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland, a major sports and entertainment centre built more for such events as basketball and netball but this week becoming a woolshed with a six-stand shearing board and seating for about 3000 expected to watch Saturday night's six finals.

The event opens with a day-and-a-half of elimination rounds in the preliminary Southland All Nations Championships, open-entry competitions which have the dual purpose of providing a pre-titles shakedown in New Zealand conditions for the 116 competitors from 32 countries as well as competition for many more shearers and woolhandlers who have come to support them.

The All Nations will be contested in three shearing grades (Open, Senior and Intermediate), two woolhandling grades (Open and Senior) and one blade shearing grade.

The World Championship events start in earnest on Thursday afternoon with the first of three rounds of heats in the machine shearing championships, which were the only events in the inaugural World Championships held at the Royal Bath and West Show in England in 1977.

The blade shearing and woolhandling championships, introduced in 1988, will each have two rounds of heats starting on Friday.

The last rounds of heats, quarterfinals and semi-finals will all be held in daytime sessions on Saturday, including the teams events for which qualifying countries will be decided on a combination of points in the individual championship heats.

It will lead to the finals from 6.30pm on Saturday, with six titles at stake - individual and teams machine and blade shearing finals each having six finalists, and woolhandling which has three finalists.

The blade shearing finals will comprise six sheep for each finalist (three second-shear, three full wool), the woolhandling eight fleeces (four second shear, four full wool), and the machine shearing 20 sheep (eight second-shear, six full wool, six lambs).

Points are based on time and quality, the latter considered paramount in keeping with early principles of competition to improve skills in the work place.

The week also includes a Speed Shearing Championship, for Open-class and Senior-class shearers on Thursday night, where judges also keep a close eye on quality.

Formal shearing competition in New Zealand has a history dating back almost 150 years, the first blades shearing events thought to have been held in Central Hawke's Bay in 1868 and the first machine shearing competition at the Hawke's Bay A and P Show in 1902.

The major boost worldwide was the advent of the Golden Shears International Championships, an annual event held in Masterton each March since 1961. It sparked Golden Shears events in other countries including England and Australia and ultimately lead to the formation of the Golden Shears World Council, under whose auspices the World Championships are held.

Wales on the prowl as Kiwis dominate shears hopes - February 7, 2017


For home team New Zealand the goals at the World shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill this week are lofty and demanding.

Fans expect machine shearers John Kirkpatrick and Nathan Stratford, woolhandlers Joel Henare and Mary-Anne Baty, and blade shearers Tony Dobbs and Phil Oldfield to add to New Zealand's total of more than 30 machine shearing and woolhandling individual and teams titles in the 16 championships since the first in England in 1977.

But it's different for other nations, even Wales which has claimed three woolhandling titles, has establish home-and-away shearing tests against New Zealand, and which shapes as possibly the best prepared of the 31 visiting teams, with machine shearers Gwion Evans and Ian Jones, woolhandlers Robyn Charlton and Ffion Jones, and blade shearers Elfed Jones and Gareth Owen each having been in New Zealand several weeks or more.

Visiting Invercargill's ILT Stadium where the four-day championships start tomorrow, Wales team manager Martyn David said: "We tried to get out here as soon as we could to get the practice and to get to know the local conditions."

With a full complement of six competitors, Wales is thus one of nine countries contesting all six titles, with, despite the understatement from the manager reasonable hopes of contesting all of the finals.

In July the team was selected comprising circuit winners Evans, Ffion Jones and Jackson, Champion Shearer of Wales winner Ian Jones, and Royal Welsh Show Open winners Charlton and Owen.

Wales fields new combinations in both the machine shearing and woolhandling.

Of the shearers, David said: "They are a young team, the aim is to get into the final, but we're really looking toward the next World Championships in about two years' time."

The woolhandlers are the best of friends, and have been challenging each other since their selection, which started with the first events in the Welsh circuit in late May last year.

First of the Welsh to arrive, in October, was Charlton who has worked in New Zealand several seasons, who once won a Junior competition final in the South Island, and who is engaged to Southland butcher Nathan Kean, of Winton.

The remainder arrived progressively, with all except Owen having competed last weekend, at either the Otago Championships in Balclutha, or, for bladesman Jackson, at the Inangahua A and P Show's Reefton Shears on the West Coast.

The manager said he's amazed by the team's support, estimating as many as 40 supporters may have come to New Zealand especially for the championships, in addition to dozens of Welsh shearing in New Zealand during the summer. "We've just booked 30 tickets for the World dinner," he said.

The team is also being followed by a crew from television production outfit Slam Media, preparing an hour-long documentary expected to help lift the profile of the shearing sports across the UK, where the sheep population is thought to be increasing, in contrast to the depleting national flock in New Zealand.

The party includes Golden Shears World Council life member Bryan Williams, who is is his country's council delegate for a ninth time in 10 championships.

Shear mission for Shun as Japan fields first World Champs team - February 6, 2017


After seven years as Japan's sole international shearer New Zealand-based Shun Oishi has come to take all of his triumphs in context.

But within a few days he will have achieved two of his biggest, after winning an Intermediate final at Reefton on Saturday ahead and now going into the World Championships starting in Invercargill with a Japanese teammate for the first time.

It's not to say he's not experienced at both - winning and competing at World championships - but it all comes with commitment big-time.

For example, in Japan, people outnumber sheep over 100-000-to-1, and when teammate Masakuni Osawada arrived in New Zealand just over a week ago with wife Nana and was put to work the next day his 57 sheep were as many as he'd done all season at home.

Based in New Zealand for seven years, where he lives in Canterbury with wife Helen and young daughter Wren, he goes back to Japan to run shearing courses, the first two years ago at B?YA Farm, Ikedachou, in Hokkaido prefecture, and last year he staged Japan's first shearing competition, with the help of Reefton Shears organiser Sam Win.

Oishi will be flying the flag more than anyone else among the 116 competitors from 32 countries at the 40th anniversary World shearing and woolhandling championships in ILT Stadium Southland, where he will be the only one to have competed in all three disciplines of machine shearing, blade shearing and woolhandling by the time the championships end on Saturday night. While he doesn't expect to challenge the Open-class guns, he is one of he is after his Reefton win one of just five with winning shearing or woolhandling form over the last weekend before the big event.

It was the sixth win of his career in New Zealand, dating back to his first as a Junior shearer at the Oxford A and P Show in 2010. He won four Junior titles but five seasons as an Intermediate had realised just one more until the Reefton Shears at the Inangahua A and P Show.

It was "the best", because it included beating Marlborough shearing contractor Sarah Higgins, who holds the distinction of being the only person to win Golden Shears in both woolhandling and shearing - a Junior title at woolhandling in 2013 and a novice title with the handpiece two years later.

"I've never beaten her," he said. "She does such a good job."

From Tokyo, he decided to leave one of the busiest places on earth", heading for an agricultural high school to study animals and dairying. It was there he saw a video of butchers at work in Germany, and, admiring the school, decided to go to learn more about it.

It was in an agricultural commune in Germany that he was introduced to sheep farming and shearing and after returning to Tokyo he decided that with a "craving" for the rural countryside he would leave his home country and chase his newfound "passion" in New Zealand.

He has shorn also in the US, and in the UK, where he first attended a World Championships at the Royal Welsh Show in 2010. This year's World Championships will be his fourth.

Osawada, 33, was working in a farm park when visitors wanted to know about the sheariong of the sheep. He couldn't tell them, so he decided to find out.

He makes the trip to New Zealand after the winner of the Japan competition was unable to make the trip, and Oishi is confident his teammate will have a victory of his own, in learning more about sheep and shearing. "Basically he made up his own luck by putting so much efforst into shearing," Oishi said. "He's so grateful he made it, it wasn't easy for him to keep practising shearing in Japan."

But despite the small number of shearers in Japan, Osawada (:Masa" as he is known) is not the only shearer the family. He also shore at Reefton, in the Junior heats, and so did his wife.

The World Champs at the TAB - You can bet on it - February 4, 2017


The TAB is picking a close three-man contest for the glamour machine shearing title at the 40th anniversary World shearing and woolhandling championships which run over four days from Wednesday to Saturday at the ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.

In odds released on Sunday, four-times New Zealand World Championships representative John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, opened the favourite paying $4.50 to win.

Teammate, World Championships first-timer and home-town hope Nathan Stratford, was second favourite, paying $5, and 2012 World champion Gavin Mutch, from Scotland but living in New Zealand and farming in Taranaki, was third favourite, paying $6. But the next-most favoured were Mutch's teammate, Hamish Mitchell, Australians Shannon Warnest and Jason Wingfield, and new World lambshearing record-holder Ivan Scott, of Ireland, each paying $13 to win.

Dunedin-based Gisborne Master Woolhandler Joel Henare is a hot-favourite to regain the individual woolhandling title, at opening odds of $1.50, with defending champion Hilary Bond, of England, the second favourite. Henare won the title in Masterton in 2012.

South African Mayenzeke Shweni is favoured to win the bladeshearing title, opening at $3.75, with Zingesele Elliot Ntsombo, of Lesotho, at $4.50, targeting to win the title for a sixth time.

Sond South Africa bladesman Joel Bangani and New Zealand hope Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, are equal third favourites at $5. Punters had just three days to back their hopes, with betting on the events closing at the start of the heats. For odds go to https://www.tab.co.nz/sport/#comp/shearing

Stratford makes it five from five in World Champs southern build-up - February 4, 2017


Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford has rounded-off his preparations for the World Championships in his home-town over the next week by successfully defending the Otago Championships Open title in Balclutha today.

It was his fifth win in five events in the Otago-Southland region in just over four months, crossing almost all wool types shorn in competition in New Zealand.

He started the season in October by winning the New Zealand finewool merino championship in Alexandra, and followed it with the West Otago A and P Open title in Tapanui in November and, in successive days last month, the Northern Southland Community shears longwool championship at Lumsden and the national crossbred lambs championship at the Winton A and P Show.

Adding to the diversity was his coarse wool win at the Canterbury Show's national corriedales championship in November.

Today's win saw the quality of the Stratford shear triumph over Northern Hemisphere pace as new World nine-hours lambshearing tally record holder Ivan Scott, of Ireland, shore the 20 sheep in 17min 32.78sec. Scots World Championships hope Hamish Mitchell was next 14 seconds later, Stratford finishing almost a minute off the race-winning pace.

But Stratford had demonstrably the better quality points - including averaging less than a penalty mark per sheep in the judging of second cuts on the shearing board - and ultimately had a winning margin of more than two points in an all-Southland battle for the major placings, leaving Mitchell and Scott battling for the minor ribbons.

Dunedin-based World Championships woolhandling favourite Joel Henare, from Gisborne, won both the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year and the South Island Circuit finals today, added also to a pair of .wins at Lumsden and Winton last month and a NZ Corriedales Championship title in Christchurch.

In the North Island, New Zealand World Championships team members had to settle for the minor money in their last events before the World Championships, in ILT Stadium Southlasnd, starting on Wednesday and finishing next Saturday night.

Kiwi World champs hope Oldfield wins blades title at Reefton - February 4, 2017


Geraldine bladeshearer Phil Oldfield had an important win ahead of this week's World shearing and woolhandling championships when he beat an international field to regain the Reefton Shears bladeshearing at the Inangahua A and P Show today.

While teammate Tony Dobbs and three African hopes for the World championships in Invercargill from Wednesday to next Saturday did not make the trip to the West Coast, there was a significant field of 18 bladeshearers and an otherwise all-overseas final of three lambs each in which Oldfield beat Peter Heraty, of Co Mayo, Ireland, Australian shearer Ken French, of Glenisla, Vic, and Noel Joyce, of Finnie, Ireland.

Oldfield, who won at Reefton two years ago, had to be good on the four-stand board beneath the Reefton Racecourse red-top today, after a top performance by French in the semi-finals, when he had just nine penalties in the pens, when the next best was Heraty's 25.

But French accurately predicted he wouldn't "get two like that again" and stacked-up the penalties in the final, in which he was however first to finish, while Heraty, mentored by Oldfield over recent years, incurred just four faults in the board judging.

Among those eliminated in the semi-finals was England shearing identity George Mudge, who by the end of the week will have shorn in 11 of the 17 World championships since the first championships in England in 1977.

Now aged 69, he made his championships debut in the second celebration in Masterton in 1980 in the machine shearing, in which he reached the final next championships up in England in 1984. He retired soon afterwards but came back in 1998 as a bladeshearer, in which he was sixth in the final at the last World championships in Ireland three years ago.

Marlborough farmer Chris Jones won the 20-sheep Open machine shearing final today, and then told younger shearers to stick around because there's hope for them all.

A prolific winner over the years on the Marlborough-Nelson circuit, he said: "I've been coming here at least 25 years now, I'm 59 next week, and I've never won any of the classes at this show."

The shears attracted 47 shearers across the grades, the greatest number being, uniquely, in the blades event.

The machine-shearing also attracted a small number of World championships entrants, with Takaka-based Mongolia national Enkhnasan Chuluunbaatar finishing second in the Senior final, and the Intermediate final being won by Canterbury-based Japan representative Shun Oishi, who will be the only competitor contesting the machine shearing, bladeshearing and woolhandling at the World Championships in ILT Stadium Southland.

But the biggest effort of the day at Reefton was that of competition organiser Sam Win, who, widely acclaimed for putting the event on and keeping it going, providing his own marquee and spending the last three days helping erecting the stand he once bought from the Canterbury Show, shore in the Open machine heats, semi-final and Plate final, and then teamed with Chuluunbaatar in a teams event he staged to put on primarily for World Championships entries who made the trip across country in preference to other competitions being held in Marton and Balclutha.

Wearing a black wig and moustached to add some reality to the situation as he wore the blue singlet of the Mongolia national side, he was faced with almost the ultimate question from an admiring fan at the end.

"Grand-dad, what are you doing?" said seven-year-old Bethany Win.

Baty wins Dannevirke Open woolhandling final - February 3, 2017


New national woolhandling representative Mary-Anne Baty has scored a confidence-boosting win at the Dannevirke A and P Show before heading south for a bid to win a World championship in Invercargill next week.

Gisborne woolhandler Baty, who had only had one previous Open-class win, took today's title by less than three-tenths of a point from 2010 World teams title winner Keryn Herbert, from Te Awamutu.

The event attracted a good entry of 14 woolhandlers, despite clashing with the Otago Championships and New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year championship in Balclutha.

The 31-year-old Baty, who has been a Golden Shears Open finalist but whose only win in the top class was at the Great Raihania Shears in Hastings 17 months ago, snatched a surprise place in the two-person woolhandling component of the New Zealand team when runner-up in the selection series final in Christchurch in November.

She teams with 2012 World champion, reigning Golden Shears and New Zealand champion and Dunedin-based fellow Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare, the hot-favourite to regain the world title at the 40th anniversary World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland from Wednesday to Saturday next week (February 8-11).

Today in Balclutha he dominated the heats and semi-final of his defence of the Woolhandler of the Year title, which attracted 21 entries including World championships competitors from England, Scoland, Wales and Germany. The NZ Woolhandler of the Year Open final will be decided on the second day opf the Otago championships tomorrow (Saturday).

Meanwhile, reigning World champion shearer Rowland Smith, of Hastings, who in November missed out on a place in the team for next week, made an emphatic statement of his current form when he retained the Dannevirke show's Open shearing title - beating leading World title contenders John Kirpatrick and Gavin Mutch.

Kirkpastrick, of Napier and chasing the World individual title for a fourth time but with two tgeasm titles to his name, was runner-up almost seven points in arrears, and 2012 World champion Mutch, a Taranaki farmer who shares for his native Scotland, was looking at Smith from a distance of more than 11pts.

World Champs: Live streaming arrangement - February 1, 2017


World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships organising committee chairman Tom Wilson has confirmed next week's 40th anniversary event in Invercargill will be streamed live over all four days.

Every minute will go live around the World from Wednesday to Saturday (NZDT) next week via the event website (www.worldshearingchamps.com) and that of broadcast partner Maori Television (www.maoritelevision.com).

A large global audience is expected, with competitors from 32 countries, more than such other major sports events as the Rugby World Cup and the biggest of all, the FIFA World Cup.

Mr Wilson, who won won the individual machine shearing title in England in 1984 and the teams title in Masterton 12 years later - representing his native Scotland - said the event had contracted Christchurch-based production company Kinetic Media to deliver the live-stream production, along with an hour-long television special that will screen in New Zealand on Maori Television and internationally following the event.

"You won't beat the atmosphere that we'll have at ILT Stadium Southland, but for those around the country and the World who can't make it to Invercargill we wanted to make sure we could capture the event in all its glory," he said.

"We are fortunate to be hosting the event in a world-class venue at ILT Stadium Southland which will look amazing on screen and we want to tell as many stories about the competitors, the region and the personalities behind the sport and, of course, get as close to the action on stage as possible."

The live-streaming will also include a daily highlights package online.

The coverage starts with the opening session of the World Championships from 11am next Wednesday (February 8) and culminate with the World Championship machine shearing, blade shearing and woolhandling teams and individual finals from 6:30pm on the Saturday (February 11).

Full event and ticketing information can be found at www.worldshearingchamps.com

Record 32 countries at World Champs - January 31, 2017


The 17th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill's nILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11, marking the 40th anniversary of the inaugursal shearing championdships in England in 1977, have attracted a record 32 countries.

All have entries in the machine shearing which has 59 competitors, with 27 countries having two entries, their countries thereby being also entered in the machine shearing teams championship.

The blade shearing has 27 entries, including 11 teams, and the woolhandling has 32 competitors, including 15 teams.

The competitors are:

Machine Shearers:

  • Argentina: Mariano Andres, Osvaldo Magallanes, Cesar Magallanes.
  • Australia: Shannon Warnest, Jason Wingfield.
  • Austria: Ekkehard Rerinprecht, Wolfgang Reiss.
  • Canada: DonaldMetherall, Cliff Metherall.
  • Chile: Luis Pincol, Jose Catalan.
  • Cook Islands: Marley Waihape, Aaron Bell.
  • Czech Republic: Lukas Neugebauer, Karel Svarc.
  • Denmark: Kenneth Storm.
  • England: Dean Nelmes, Antony Rooke.
  • Estonia: Peedo Fiks, Mehis Tamsalu.
  • Falkland Islands: Lee Molkenbuhr, Paul Phillips.
  • France: Thimoleon Resneau, Loic Leygonie.
  • Germany: Emmanuel Gulde, Rainier Blumelhuber.
  • Iceland: Heioa Guony, Haflioi Saevarsson.
  • England: Stanley Allingham, Ivan Scott.
  • Isle of Man: Kieran Jones, Daniel Creer.
  • Italy: Gianmarco Scocozza, Domenico Scocozza.
  • Japan: Masakuni Osawada, Shun Oishi.
  • Mongolia: Enkhnasan Chuluunbaatar.
  • Netherlands: Ype van der Woude.
  • New Zealand: Nathan Stratford, John Kirkpatrick.
  • Northern Ireland: Ian Montgomery, Jack Robinson.
  • Norway: Kjetil Torland, Asmund Kringeland.
  • Scotland: Gavin Mutch, Hamish Mitchell.
  • Slovaki: Marek Marko.
  • Slovenia: Alojz Novak, Andrej Skibin.
  • South Africa: Isaac Siqolele, Guilllaume Johannes Strydom.
  • Spain: Luis Sorossal, Joseba Ugalde.
  • Switzerland: Simon Zaugh, Andre Meister.
  • USA: Loren Opstedahl, Alex Moser.
  • Wales: Gwion Evans, Ian Jones.

Blade shearers:

  • Argentina: Arsenio Saihueque, Pablo Barrera.
  • Australia: Johnathon Dalla, Ken French.
  • England: Andrew Mudge, George Mudge.
  • France: Didier Gitenait.
  • Germany: Jan Juppe, Dirk Hartmann.
  • Ireland: Peter Heraty, Noel Joyce.
  • Japan: Shun Oishi.
  • Lesotho: Zingizele Elliot Ntsombo.
  • New Zealand: Tony Dobbs, Phil Oldfield.
  • Northern Ireland: Sam McConell, Chris Coulter.
  • Scotland: Mark Armstrong, Wilson Wyllie.
  • Slovenia: Andrej Skibin.
  • South Africa: Mayenzeke Shweni, Bangani Joel.
  • Spain: Joseba Ugalde.
  • USA: Kevin Ford, Loren Opstedahl.
  • Wales: Elfed Jackson, Gareth Owen.

Woolhandlers:

  • Australia: Sophie Huf, Mel Morris.
  • Austria: Monika Pfuner, Wolgang Reiss.
  • Cook Islands: Tina Elers, Mii Nooroa.
  • England: Hilary Bond, Rachel Lumley.
  • Falkland Islans: Jeannette de Pilar, Reba Peck.
  • France: Lucie Grancher, Adele Lemercier.
  • Germany: Stefanie Kauschaus, Jan Juppe.
  • Ireland: George Graham, Joe Boyland.
  • Japan: Shun Oishi.
  • New Zealand: Maryanne Baty, Joel Henare.
  • Northern Ireland: Rachel Murphy, Jayne Harkness-Bones.
  • Norway: Jonathon Haakull, Wendy Perry.
  • Scotland: Audrey Lamb, Kirsty Donald.
  • South Africa: Elna Kitching, Thomas James Calldo.
  • Spain: Taoya Rossel.
  • USA: Leann Brimmer, Margaret Passino.
  • Wales: Robyn Charlton, Ffion Jones.

Smith in charge again in classic Taihape final - January 28, 2017


In most people's minds reigning World Champion shearer Rowland Smith had a point to prove when he stepped up for the final of the Taihape A and P Show Open shearing championship today.

But it wasn't just one point - it was more than four of them as the surprise omission from the New Zealand team for next month's World championships in Invercargill comfortably beat a six-man field of the World's best, including black-singlet team members Nathan Stratford and John Kirkpatrick who edged him out of a title defence when finishing first and second in a team selection series final in Christchurch in November.

It was Smith's seventh win of the season and the 94th in an Open-class career in its 11th season.

It was also the first time the trio had shorn in a final together since the Canterbury show it almost didn't happen, with a points-scoring error having originally eliminated Stratford in the heats, which would have been a sharp reversal after the Invercargill gun's win in the national longwool ewes and lambshearing championships finals on successive days in Southland a week ago.

One who did disappear was 2012 World champion and Scotland representative Gavin Mutch, who knew his shear in the heats was not good enough to go any further and barely had to wait for the naming of the 18 for the semi-final.

Shearing in temperatures of over 30deg today, Smith on Stand 4 beat Kirkpatrick next-door by 16 seconds in the race for time honours in shearing the 20 second-shear sheep in 17min 14sec, an average of under 52 seconds a sheep caught, shorn and dispatched.

But Smith, who won his World title in Ireland in 2014, did it today also with markedly the cleanest job, by 2.9pts, contributing to an overall winning margin of 4.4pts. Feilding shearer and contractor Murray Henderson, who had the best board points, was third, with Stratford fourth, having finished 1min 21sec after Smith.

It was a special day for Milton woolhandler Monica Potae who while a regular top performer on the Open woolhandling circuit had her first win, in what was her first visit to the Taihape show. Beating former World teams champions Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, and Keryn Herbert, in the final, it was the second time in a row the Taihape Open woolhandling final had provided a maiden victory.

World championships woolhandling representatives Joel Henare and Maryann Baty, both from Gisborne, were not at Wairoa, where the limited numbers in the Open woolhandling was the only disappointment for organisers.

There were 167 shearers and woolhandlers across the grades, and the 126 shearers included more than 40 from overseas, including competitors from throughout the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Falkland Islands.

There was a particular success for Marton shearer Aaron Bell, who won the Senior shearing final and who will represent Cook Islands at the World shearing and woolhandling championships, among representatives from 32 countries at the big event in ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11.

Baigent beats champs hope record-holder Scott at Tapaweral - January 28, 2017


Wakefield shearer Travers Baigent had his biggest success when beat World Championships hopeful Ivan Scott, of Ireland, in Today's Tapawera Shears Open final south of Nelson.

Baigent, 26, achieved the win by beating the World lambshearing record holder by over half-a-minute in being the only finalist to cut-out the 15-sheep pen in under 15 minutes, and doing it with the best points on the shearing board.

Scott, shore 867 lambs in a nine-hour day in England last July and will represent the Republic of Ireland in the 17th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill on February 8-11, and has shorn about 20 summers in New Zealand, highlighting his potential as a title force when he won the New Zealand Corridale Championship at the Canterbury Show in 2014.

But, amassing 13.4 penalty points in the pen judging, Baigent had a buffer of just 0.67pts in scoring his second Open win, his first having been at Murchison last season.

County Donegal shearer Scott claimed second place on Saturday by over three-and-a-half points from Geraldine shearer Paul Hodges, who'd had his first Open win a week earlier at the Golden Bay Show. Hodges had the best pen points.

Scott wasn't the only World Championships entrant at Tapawera, it being a particularly successful day for Takaka-based Mongolia representative Enkhnasan Chuluunbaatar, who won the eight-sheep Senior final by more than three points from runner-up Mark Rogers, despite finishing almost two sheep behind first-man-off and eventual third placegetter Baden Barker, of Tapawera.

Marlborough shearers Tony Nott and Chris Jones were not present to defend their domination of the Top of the South Final, after finishing first and second respectively four years in a row. On Saturday honours went to Takaka shearer Nick Nalder, who was runner-up to Jones in the Nelson A and P Show Open final in November, but who hadn't won a final since the Golden Bay Show in 2012.

There was a good entry of 12 in the Open class on Saturday, but there were only eight across the other three grades at the shears which also hosted the Top of the South final for 2017.

World champs fever in the air in Southland - January 23, 2017


The first hints of World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships fever in Southland were in the air as New Zealand team members Nathan Stratford and Joel Henare cleaned-up in two major scene-setters at the weekend.

Just three weeks out from the 40th anniversary World championships, in Invercargill on February 8-11, host-town shearer Nathan Stratford and Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare won their respective Open finals at the Northern Southland Community Shears on longwool near Lumsden on Friday and in the Southland Shears' national crossbred lambs championships at the Winton A and P Show on Saturday.

There was a real international flair at Winton, with seven nationalities represented in finals during the day, possibly the greatest number at any one show in New Zealand other than a World championships.

Among the visitors was Scots international and World teams title-holder Hamish Mitchell, who was first to finish the six-man Open shearing final of 20 lambs each

His 18min 28.7sec was about 24 seconds quicker than Stratford, but Mitchell suffered in the quality judging and had to settle for sixth place overall.

As at Lumsden the previous day, Stratford's quality was too good for everyone, including two of the greatest Southland and Otago shearers of the last 30 years, Darrin Forde and Dion Morrell, who were second and third respectively. Stratford had a winning buffer of almost 4.5pts in winning the title for a third time in 10 years.

Championships New Zealand shearing teammate John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, missed the event, shearing instead at Wairoa in Northern Hawke's Bay, as did incumbent World champion Rowland Smith, of Hastings, who won both titles in Southland last year but in November just missed out on a place in the team.

Henare faced a top field in the woolhandling final, all four finalists having been in the six who contested the New Zealand team World Championships selection series finals in Christchurch in November. Tia Potae, of Milton, was runner-up, 2010 World teams title winner Keryn Herbert, from Te Awamutu, was third, and Alexandra's Pagan Karauria, who in November also just missed team selection, was fourth, as she had been also at Lumsden.

The international component on Saturday was strongest in the Intermediate shearing final, won by George Olof, from England, with German World championships entry Jan Juppe third, and Gilles Grancher, from France, fourth.

World champs battle-out Tauranga final - January 15, 2017


Reigning World champion Rowland Smith took another step towards 100 wins in Open-class shearing when he beat 2012 World champion Gavin Mutch, of Scotland, at the Tauranga Show yesterday.

Denied a World title defence next month after just missing out on a pkace in the New Zealand team in a selection series final in November, and last week divested of a World Record he and brother Doug had held for six years, Smith won the Tauranga final despite being only third to finish.

First to finish was Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan, who had to settle for third place overall with Smith producing clearly the best quality shear.

Fourth was 2016 winner Mark Grainger, also from Te Kuiti and who also teamed with Open Plate winner Turi Edmonds for a shearing match victory over the French World championships team of Loic Leygonie and Thimoleon Resneau.

Darren Alexander, of Whangamomona, won the Senior final, as he did last year, Porangahau shearer Anaru Wakefield continued his winning form in the Intermediate grade, and the Junior final was won by newcomer William Adams, of Taupo, one of only two entrants in the grade.

Late start early win as Grainger wins beats World Champs hope at Stratford - November 27, 2016


Te Kuiti shearer Mark Grainger had a confidence-boosting pre-Christmas win when he downed former World and Golden Shears champion Gavin Mutch in the final of the Stratford A and P Show's shearing championships yesterday. Making a late start to his eighth season in Open class, in the last competition in the country before the layoff for the traditional busy December at work in the woolshed, it was just his fourth win at the top level, the earlier triumphs all being in the post-Christmas phase of the season, at Taumarunui in February 2014, and Tauranga and Ohura last January - February.

Whangamomona farmer and Scotland international Mutch has had 11 wins at the top level in New Zealand, including the 2012 World Championship and the 2015 Golden Shears Open, both in Masterton, and his first Stratford show win last year. He is rated the top overseas team hope for the machine shearing title at the 40th anniversary World Championships in Invercargill on February 8-11, and, as expected, made all the pace on Saturday and beat Grainger by more than a sheep in the 15-sheep final, finishing in 12min 31sec.

But the 3.4pts time deficit was little in the way of Grainger, who with board points of 1.666 and pen points of 9.733, was more than 4pts cleaner than Mutch, and almost 4pts cleaner than Waikaretu visitor Sam Welch, who was third overall.

Stratford rounds-off pre-Xmas with Tapanui win - November 20, 2016


Newly-selected World Championships representative Nathan Stratford continued his domination of South Island events this season and in particular the Tapanui stand when he retained the Open title at the West Otago A and P Show yesterday.

It was his 7th win in the event in 9 years, and 11th overall in an Open career now in its 20th season, having previously won the Junior final in 1992 and Senior final in 1994.

It was also his 6th win this year, starting with his victory in the New Zealand Merino Championships final at Alexandra on October 1, when he ended the six-year domination of the event by West Australian shearer Damien Boyle.

Missing the New Zealand Spring Shears at Waimate while on national duty in Australia a week later, Stratford then won at Ellesmere and Ashburton before a near all-conquering stint at the Canterbury Show where he won the Canterbury Circuit and NZ Corriedale Championships double, claimed individual honours in a Canterbury Shears-Queensland match and claimed his place at the World Championships in home-town Invercargill on February 8-11 by finishing second in the New Zealand team selection series final.

With Darin Forde and Dion Morrell eliminated in the semi-finals along with Abraham Berkelaar, who has recently moved to Tuatapere, was a comfortable winner of the final with best time, board and pen points to claim victory by just over 4pts from Gore shearer Ringakaha Paewai, who had also been runner-up to Stratford at Ashburton three weeks ago.

In-tune Stratty cleans-up Canterbury Shears - November 12, 2016


Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford completed his most successful two days in over 20 shears of competition with three wins and the ultimate goal of New Zealand World Championships team selection at the New Zealand Corriedale Championships which ended in Christchurch today.

Just when he could have sat back contented having achieved the real goal of a top-two finish in the team selection final, Stratford then won the Corriedale championships Open final and with Rakaia shearer Tony Coster took the Canterbury Shears team to a comfortable win over the Queensland team of Phil Schaff, of Chinchilla, and Terry O'Leary, of Warwick.

On Thursday, 42-year-old father-of-two Stratford also won the Canterbury Circuit final, but before the show finished he had one more duty, deputising at the Senior final presentation for winner and Napier shearer Ricci Stevens, who had to leave early for home, and the Central Hawke's Bay A and P Show in Waipukurau tomorrow,

The triumphs came after a lot of hard work as Stratford strove to give Invercargill a home-town hope in the 40th anniversary World Championships in ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11.

Starting from the last week of September, Stratford had shorn in eight competitions, from Alexandra in the south to Hastings in the north, and in two trips to Australia, one of them to Perth. He hasn't shied-away from the smaller outfits, having shorn the Ellesmere Show at Leeston, and is planning to shear the West Otago A and P Show next week in Tapanui.

Despite the targeted effort, he said he was "shocked" by the outcome of the selection trial - finishing runner-up to Napier shearer John Kirkpatrick, the pair making it into the championships at the expense of reigning World, Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Rowland Smith, of Hastings, who Stratford beat by just 0.032pts.

Stratford said he "wasn't happy" with how he'd gone in the 20-sheep selection final, in which he finished more than a sheep behind Darin Forde of Invercargill and Smith.

"I thought I was too slow," he said, before learning how quality had won over time in the final count. "I still thought it would be Johnny and Rowland."

Having already stepped up the work with trainer Sid Cummings, he immediately recognised winning a World title would be yet another step.

"I've worked with him for several years," he said. "We set a new programme about eight weeks ago. Now we'll probably have to set a newer one."

Canterbury veteran Grant Smith was runner-up in the 10-sheep Corriedales final, which defending champion Troy Pyper, also of Invercargill, raced through in the fastest time of 12min 28.44sec - more than half-a-minute clear of Forde, the next to finish.

Stevens won the Senior final a comfortable 7pts clear of runner-up Phoenix Hawkins, of Ashburton, the Intermediate final was won by Lincoln graduate Sarah Higgins, of Havelock, and the Junior final was won by young Kaikoura shearer Marohi Kennedy, who had burst onto the scene with a win in his first final at the Marlborough A and P Show last week.

Fairlie farmer Tony Dobbs won the New Zealand bladeshearing Championship for a 15th time, and in doing so completed a cleansweep of all eight bladeshearing titles in the New Zealand World Championships team selection series.

Southern man gets the nod World Champs in Invercargill - November 11, 2016.


Southland shearer Nathan Stratford has created a promoter's dream by winning a place in the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill.

The 42-year-old with the traditional Southland accented "R" won selection in the New Zealand team in Christchurch today with a stunning second place to three-times World championships contender John Kirkpatrick, of Napier. But more stunning was the elimination of hot-favourite and reigning World champion Rowland Smith, of Hastings, finishing third and missing selection by just 0.032pts..

They and three others had faced a gruelling 10-months, six-rounds points series to reach the final shorn over 20 sheep each at the Canterbury Show, comprising eight full-wooled sheep, six scond-shear and six lambs.

Kirkpatrick hit trouble on the first sheep and featured in a brave fightback, as 30-year-old Smith dominated the pace, pipped at the end for time honours only by second Southland hope and 2000 World Championships runner-up Darin Forde.

Forde finished in 18min 11.82sec., Smith two seconds later and Kirkpatrick next, 18 seconds further back. But Stratford was for only a brief moment in front and ultimately had still one more lamb in the pen as both Forde and Smith switched off for the last time.

The event completed the selection of the team which was named a short time later.

The CP Wool Shearing Sports New Zealand team for the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in ITL Stadium South, Invercargill, on February 8-11, is: machine shearers John Kirkpatrick (Napier), Nathan Stratford (Invercargill); blade shearers Tony Dobbs (Fairlie), Phil Oldfield (Geraldine); woolhandlers Joel Henare (Gisborne), Maryanne Baty (Gisborne).




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