Mutch looms as big threat to NZ machine shearing hopes
Mutch looms as big threat to New Zealand machine shearing hopes
Taranaki farmer and Scotland shearing international Gavin Mutch sounded a loud warning to World championships hopefuls when he won a big double at the Royal Highland Show on Saturday.
Mutch, from Huntly, Aberdeenshire, but based in New Zealand for most of the last 20 years, won the Royal Highland Open and the Scottish National Championship finals.
He will be going for his second individual World title at the 18th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Le Dorat, Central France, next week (July 1-7), having previously won the title at the Golden Shears in Masterton in 2012.
He looms as the biggest threat to the 2019 hopes of Hawke’s Bay guns Rowland Smith, the 2014 champion, and Cam Ferguson, who won in 2010.
The Allflex New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling team for France also includes woolhandlers Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, and Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, and blade shearers Tony Dobbs, of Fairlie, and Allan Oldfield, of Geraldine.
Following Smith’s win in Ireland five years ago and that by Napier shearer John Kirkpatrick in Invercargill in 2017, the Kiwis will be aiming for the third World machine shearing title for New Zealand in a row.
New Zealand will also be defending a proud record of an Invercargill cleansweep of the machines shearing and woolhandling individual and teams ttiles, and top-three placings in both blade shearing events.
To win the machine shearing honours Smith and Ferguson will also have to overcome such competitors England pair Adam Berry and Stuart Connor, who were second and third in the Royal Highland Open, Northern Ireland hopeful Jack Robinson, who was fifth, and sixth placegetter and Welsh championships aspirant Alun Lloyd Jones, who was sixth.
Smith had not arrived in the UK in time for the event, while Ferguson was in the field of 40 but was eliminated in the heats, in his second competition since arriving the UK.
Scotland and New Zealand also have a machine shearing test match at the Scottish Blackface Championships in Lochearnhead, Scotland, on Saturday, where Alabaster and Oldfield will also compete, before joining teams from more than 30 countries in France for the following week.
Karauria was the top qualifier in the heats of the Royal Highland Open Woolhandling championship and while eliminated in the semi-final was presented with a new trophy for the best points in the wool table judging.
Royal Highland Open final (20 sheep): Gavin Mutch (Scotland) 13min 48sec, 49.4pts, 1; Adam Berry (England) 14min 37sec, 52.2pts, 2; Stuart Connor (England) 15min 5sec, 52.35pts, 3; Richard Jones (Wales) 15min 34sec, 52.6pts, 4; Jack Robinson (Northern Ireland) 15min 56sec, 54.65pts, 5; Alan Lloyd Jones (Wales) 15min 23sec, 56.4pts, 6.
Scottish National Final (19 sheep): Gavin Mutch 14min 11sec, 51.129pts, 1; Calum Shaw 14min 14sec, 52.332pts, 2; Hamish Mitchell 14min 46sec, 55.563pts, 3; Andrew Baillie 17min 30sec, 64.237pts, 4; Archie Paterson 18.4sec, 64.516pts, 5; Stuart Davidson 18min 7sec, 67.771pts, 6.
Royal Highland Open: Aled Jones (Wales) 65.5pts, 1; Adele Lemercier (France) 87pts, 2; Nikki Gore 106pts (New Zealand), 3; Audrey Lamb (Scotland) 4, Claire Wilson (Scotland) 5, Emily Sheppard (Wales) 6.