Let the Golden Shears begin…
From Doug Laing, media officer, Shearing Sports New Zealand
February 27, 2014
Let the Golden Shears begin…
More than 150 mainly younger shearers, woolhandlers and pressers are today embarking on the road to possible glory in the World’s biggest wool industry and sports festival as the 54th Golden Shears international championships begin in Masterton.
Some will compete in all three disciplines, raising to more than 200 the number of entries in the heats of the first-day novice, junior and intermediate shearing championships, novice, junior and senior woolhandling, and the woolpressing.
Their events are among more than 20 that will be decided over the three-day championships in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, where the “Shears”, or “Goldies” as they are affectionately known in the fraternity, were first held in front of sell-out crowds in 1961.
Competitors have come from at least eight overseas countries for the biggest of the 61 events on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar.
The competitors include the Australian national shearing and woolhandling teams which will contest the Masterton leg of a bi-annual home-and-away transtasman series, in which the first test at Euroa, Victoria, was heldt 40 years ago this year.
The glamour event is the Golden Shears Open shearing championship, for which the favourite is Northland-raised, Hastings-based defending champion Rowland Smith. It culminates with a six-man final on Saturday night, in which the World’s fastest shearers are expected to each shear 20 second-shear sheep in under 18 minutes.
The fastest time in the event was King Country icon David Fagan’s 15min 27.4sec, shorn in 2003 when he won the 14th of the record 16 titles he won in the event from 1986 to 2009.
The championships open with an air of expectancy that the 52-year-old’s Golden Shears legacy is not yet complete, with Fagan rated by the TAB third on its order of favouritism after five wins in provincial competitions this season, taking him to 625 wins worldwide since his first Open-class competition in the Spring of 1981.
A stunning quarterfinals elimination last year, he has a second major opportunity also as top qualifier for the PGG Wrightson National Circuit finals, incorporating the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown which was first presented in 1973 as a means of deciding the country’s top shearer over all wool types.
The best six will on Saturday night each shear 15 sheep, comprising merinos, halfbreds, longwools, lambs and second-shears, with Fagan having already won the final nine times, from 1986 to 2008.
Most finals are on Saturday, with the final night programme also including the 30th Golden Shears Open woolhandling championship, for which the favourite is the youngest person ever to win a Golden Shears open shearing or woolhandling title, reigning World champion Joel Henare, 22, of Gisborne.
The winner of the Open shearing final will be the first of two machine shearers chosen to represent New Zealand at the World Championships in Gorey, Ireland, in May, while two woolhandlers will be decided in a Saturday-afternoon trial culminating a year-long , 10-show selection series.
The second shearer will be decided in the New Zealand championships Open final in Te Kuiti on March 29, and two blades shearing representatives will be named at the end of a qualifying series which ends at Fairlie in April.