Merino Championships Open woolhandling final
World champion woolhandler Joel Henare is on target to get his new season off to a triumphant start as top qualifier for the New Zealand Merino Championships Open woolhandling final in Alexandra today.
Winner of New Zealand’s only finewool title in 2012 and 2014, the father-of-three was top qualifier in the quarterfinals and semi-finals as the 2017-2018 Shearing Sports New Zealand season opened in the Central Otago town yesterday.
It came as Henare was also being named a finalist in the Tairawhiti Sports Awards, to be presented in Gisborne on November 10. It recognises his win in the World Championships final in Invercargill in February and multiple other wins last season including successfully defending the Golden Shears and New Zealand championships’ open titles.
Henare’s success yesterday confirmed warm favouritism to open the season with a win at the championships which attracted 75 woolhandling competitors, including 27 in the Open class, 23 in senior and 25 juniors.
He is also strongly favoured to bring-up a career tally of 100 Open-class wins this season, with more than 90 to his credit, approaching the age of 26 later this month and with already 11 seasons at the top-level behind him since he first competed in Open-class events in 2005.
Also in today’s final are defending Merino champion Pagan Karauria, of Alexandra, Monica Potae, of Milton, and surprise qualifier Kelly Macdonald, from Lake Hawea, who earlier yesterday scraped through as last of 16 for the quarterfinals, last of 8 for the semi-finals and last into the top four for the final.
The qualifiers for today’s Senior final are Teresa Aporo, from Martinborugh, Ebony Turipa, of Gore, Krystal Gulliver, of Gore, and Tawhai Cannell, from Gisborne, while the Junior finalists ae Autum Waihape, of Mataura, Linda Duncan, of Alexandra, Reneek Porter, from Gisborne, and Paige Adams, of Masterton.
The last of the two days of the championships today also features the Open and Senior merino shearing championships, the Open heats constituting the first round of the PGG Wrightson Wool National Shearing Circuit.
The Open championship also feature West Australian and six-times title winner Damien Boyle’s attempt to wrest the title back from Southland Master Shearer Nathan Stratford, who ended Boyle’s run when he won the final 12 months ago.
Boyle headed the 24 quarterfinalists from the heats of 30
shearers this morning.
The Senior shearing heats yesterday attracted 21 entries, the 12 semi-final qualifiers being headed by Shane Clemens, of Waiau, North Canterbury.