Stratford and Rimene star in Otago Shears
February 10, 2013
Stratford and Rimene star in Otago Shears
Two big but popular upsets have dominated the Otago shearing and woolhandling championships in Balclutha with its major shearing title won by a South Islander for only the third time in 31 years and a cleansweep of its two Open woolhandling titles by a competitor who overcame tragedy to score her first victories in over six years.
The triumphant shearer at what is one of New Zealand's major annual shearing sports events, was Invercargill gun and New Zealand representative Nathan Stratford, who became only the second South Island shearer to win the Open final in Balclutha in the era of Te Kuiti shearing legend David Fagan, who first won the event in his first season of Open-class shearing in 1983.
Edsel Forde, now long-retired from competition shearing, won the event in 1989 and 1994, but multiple-winner Fagan kicks on, qualifying for the five-man, 20-sheep final again on Saturday and finishing fourth in quest of a 618th Open competition victory.
The lady of the moment in the woolhandling was Pagan Rimene, from Alexandra and Masterton, and who won both the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year and South Island Open Circuit finals, her first wins since her first Open final in November 2006, when she beat mother and former World Teams and Golden Shears champion Tina Rimene at the New Zealand Corriedale Championships in Christchurch.
Stratford’s win also ended a succession of wins in the Open final by Hawke’s Bay shearers since Fagan last won in 2004, while Rimene’s Woolhandler of the Year triumph brought to an end the winning sequence of Gisborne’s Joel Henare who last year, at the age of 20, won for the fifth time in a row, three weeks before winning the World Championship in Masterton.
With best Otago placings of third in 2004 and 2007 but missing from the final in 2011 and 2012, it was a determined Stratford who tried to make the pace through the early stages.
But it was Waipawa shearer Cam Ferguson, whose 2010 win was followed by his Golden Shears and World Championship triumphs later that year, who took charge, his 17min 16.06sec for 20 sheep leaving him watching the rest for 31 seconds before Stratford was next to hit the button, four seconds ahead of multiple winner John Kirkpatrick, of Napier.
It was quality-over-speed which decided the issue as Stratford claimed the win by more than two points from Ferguson who held on by less than four-hundredths of a point to take second place ahead of Kirkpatrick. With Fagan next, Southland shearer Darin Forde, who’s had to live in the shadow of the first four, who have now each won the event at least once, had to settle for fifth, in his first time in the final since 2008.
Shortly before Saturday’s final, Stratford and Kirkpatrick took a 2-0 lead in the three-test Elders Primary Wool Shearing Series by beating Welshmen Richard Jones and Gareth Lloyd Evans by almost 16pts. The contest was shorn over three second-shear and three fiull-wool sheep each, with Kirkpatrick first off the board in 6min 55..41sec.
With just one other finals placing behind her this season, Rimene’s NZWHY win came after three consecutive finals placings in the event and emulated her mother’s victory in 2004, and followed her win in the Senior final at Balclutha in 2006, when she also won the Golden Shears Senior final. She had, however, reached just one other final this season.
The new champion also finished third in the weekend’s Junior shearing final, won by Kahn Culshaw, of Ashburton, and was in an all-star Team Morrell combo which won the teams event. The others in the team were senior woolhandling double winner Anne-Maree Kahukura, of Omakau, and shearers Kirkpatrick, from Napier, and Mataura’s Brett Roberts, who won the Senior final for a second time.
In her ninth season of competition woolhandling, Rimene’s genes have always had her destined for the top, now being realised despite a road tragedy tragedy in 2008, in which two passengers in the work van she was driving were killed, and in which she and sister and fellow successful woolhandler Larnie Morrell were seriously injured.
Her mother has been competing in Open competition more than 20 years, winning two World teams titles and three Golden Shears Open finals, father Dion Morrell is a contractor and former World record breaking shearer who won New Zealand’s major all-wools title, the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown (now the PGG Wrightson National), in 1997, and her sister won the Golden Shears Junior and Senior woolhandling titles.
Masterton teenager David Gordon scored his 11th win in his last 12 finals by claiming the other shearing title, a win by more than six-and-a-half points over runner-up and 2012 Golden Shears Junior champion Andrew Leith, of Dipton, while the two Juniornwoolhandling titles were shared, with Emma Kate Rabbidge, of Wyndham, winning the NZWHY final and Daine Rehe, of Te Teko, the South Island Cicuit final.