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Early days but rankings history beckons for wool champ Ruki

MEDIA RELEASE

On behalf of Shearing Sports New Zealand 

October 10, 2013

Early days but rankings history beckons for wool champ Ruki

It’s early days and there’s a lot of wool to pass across the table, but Invercargill woolhandler Amy Ruki could be facing a bit of shearing sports history in the wake of her breakthrough Open-class win at the New Zealand Merino Championships in Alexandra last weekend.

Having been Shearing Sports New Zealand’s No 1 ranked Junior for the 2008-2009 season and the top Senior the following year, the 26-year-old mum of 2 young children has the chance whether this season or in the future to become the first person to top the rankings in all 3 woolhandling classes.

The demands of raising the family along with the distances she’ll need to travel may be as big a challenge as the class of the opposition, but she confirmed she’ll be giving it her best shot again when the New Zealand Spring Shears are held at Waimate tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, and at the Canterbury Show’s New Zealand Corriedale Championships next month.

They’ve been happy hunting-grounds in the past, with Junior titles at both shows in 2008, and placings in both Senior finals the following season.

Her Open debut in 2010 was promising enough, reaching the final at Alexandra and finishing 4th behind Taiwha Nelson, of Alexandra, eventual World and Golden Shears champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne, and Australia-based multiple Golden Shears and World champion Joanne Kumeroa, from Whanganui.

But a maiden Open win was much longer coming, a reflection most on the strength of the opposition as she was up against-it even trying to reach the finals.

Of the 71 Open woolhandling titles in New Zealand in her first 3 seasons in the top grade, 59 were shared among just 5 competitors, headed by now 3-times rankings winner and Te Awamutu woolhandler Keryn Herbert, with 16, and Henare, with 15.

All the guns were left behind as Ruki made her way from the heats of 52 competitors at the weekend to what seemed much a new-era final.

Kumeroa, having flown-in from Australia, was eliminated in the heats, while Herbert and Henare departed in the quarterfinals, leaving Ruki to ultimately fight-out the final with 2012-2013 Transtasman New Zealand team member Rocky Hape-Taite, of Dannevirke, first time open finalist Sarah Kara, of Winton, and Kaitangata-based Ratapu Moore, originally from Northland and whose husband, Angus, shore in the Open shearing final.

Ruki says that with the demands of raising the young ones, the obstacle of distance, and with partner Mike Ferguson shearing in Australia for a few weeks, she’s unlikely to be competing in the North Island before the end of the year, and possibly not before the “Goldies” in Masterton in March.

She’s been woolhandling about 8 years, and in the environment of contractors Peter and Elsie Lyon in Alexandra it was inevitable she would soon be testing her skills in competition.

“Everyone here at Peter Lyon’s does it,” she said. “I started enjoying it.”

She’d prepared well for the Merino championships, and said: “I’ve worked hard all pre-lamb, and this is a really good show.”

She's made just one Waimate open final, for third place 2 years ago.

Competition at Waimate will be in 4 machine shearing classes, the blades shearing, and the three woolhandling classes.

The Open shearing heats constitute the 2nd round of the PGG Wrightson National series, in which 9-times series David Fagan, of Te Kuiti, got off to a flying start at Alexandra with a maximum 12pts from top-qualifying in the heats, although eliminated from the Merino championship in the quarterfinals.

Fagan, almost 52 and starting his 33rd Open-class season, has won the Waimate title 11 times, the first in 1984 and the most recent 2 years ago.

At least 100 competitors are expected in Waimate, with entries still being accepted. More than 30 are expected in the Open shearing, at least 20 in the Open woolhandling, and about 10 in the first blades event of the season. 

ENDS

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