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In-tune Stratty cleans-up Canterbury Shears

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford completed his most successful two days in over 20 shears of competition with three wins and the ultimate goal of New Zealand World Championships team selection at the New Zealand Corriedale Championships which ended in Christchurch today.

Just when he could have sat back contented having achieved the real goal of a top-two finish in the team selection final, Stratford then won the Corriedale championships Open final and with Rakaia shearer Tony Coster took the Canterbury Shears team to a comfortable win over the Queensland team of Phil Schaff, of Chinchilla, and Terry O’Leary, of Warwick.

On Thursday, 42-year-old father-of-two Stratford also won the Canterbury Circuit final, but before the show finished he had one more duty, deputising at the Senior final presentation for winner and Napier shearer Ricci Stevens, who had to leave early for home, and the Central Hawke’s Bay A and P Show in Waipukurau tomorrow,

The triumphs came after a lot of hard work as Stratford strove to give Invercargill a home-town hope in the 40th anniversary World Championships in ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11.

Starting from the last week of September, Stratford had shorn in eight competitions, from Alexandra in the south to Hastings in the north, and in two trips to Australia, one of them to Perth. He hasn’t shied-away from the smaller outfits, having shorn the Ellesmere Show at Leeston, and is planning to shear the West Otago A and P Show next week in Tapanui.

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Despite the targeted effort, he said he was “shocked” by the outcome of the selection trial – finishing runner-up to Napier shearer John Kirkpatrick, the pair making it into the championships at the expense of reigning World, Golden Shears and New Zealand champion Rowland Smith, of Hastings, who Stratford beat by just 0.032pts.
Stratford said he “wasn’t happy” with how he’d gone in the 20-sheep selection final, in which he finished more than a sheep behind Darin Forde of Invercargill and Smith.
“I thought I was too slow,” he said, before learning how quality had won over time in the final count. “I still thought it would be Johnny and Rowland.”
Having already stepped up the work with trainer Sid Cummings, he immediately recognised winning a World title would be yet another step.
“I’ve worked with him for several years,” he said. “We set a new programme about eight weeks ago. Now we’ll probably have to set a newer one.”
Canterbury veteran Grant Smith was runner-up in the 10-sheep Corriedales final, which defending champion Troy Pyper, also of Invercargill, raced through in the fastest time of 12min 28.44sec – more than half-a-minute clear of Forde, the next to finish.
Stevens won the Senior final a comfortable 7pts clear of runner-up Phoenix Hawkins, of Ashburton, the Intermediate final was won by Lincoln graduate Sarah Higgins, of Havelock, and the Junior final was won by young Kaikoura shearer Marohi Kennedy, who had burst onto the scene with a win in his first final at the Marlborough A and P Show last week.
Fairlie farmer Tony Dobbs won the New Zealand bladeshearing Championship for a 15th time, and in doing so completed a cleansweep of all eight bladeshearing titles in the New Zealand World Championships team selection series.
Results from the New Zealand Corriedale and Canterbury Shearing Championships at the Canterbury Show in Christchurch today (Friday):
Canterbury Circuit final (10 sheep): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 16min 55.93sec, 78.697pts, 1; Tony Coster (Rakaia) 15min 52.16sec, 79.508pts, 2; Abraham Berkelaar (Christchurch) 18min 11.88sec, 80.794pts, 3; Grant Smith (Rakaia) 16min 58sec, 88.8pts, 4; Darin Forde (Lornville/Tuatapere) 16min 7.53sec, 89.477pts, 5; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 17min 37.12sec, 97.456pts, 6.
New Zealand Corriedale Chamopionships:
Open final (10 sheep): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 13min 56.22sec, 69.396pts, 1; Grant Smith (Rakaia) 13min 58.38sec, 70.294pts, 2; Rowland Smith (Hastings) 13min 40.22sec, 70.761pts, 3; Darin Forde (Lornville) 13min 5.47sec, 73.524pts, 4; Troy Pyper (Invercargill) 12min 28.44sec, 74.047pts, 5; Ant Frew (Oamaru) 15min 17.6sec, 87.63pts, 6.
Senior final (5 sheep): Ricci Stevens (Napier) 12min 48.19sec, 64.81pts, 1; Phoenix Hawkins (Ashburton) 12min 0.06sec, 71.403pts, 2; Nathan Adams (Christchurch) 12min 26.16sec, 73.308pts, 3; Linton Palmer (Dipton) 14min 29.35sec, 75.068pts, 4; Lyall Windleburn (Waiau) 11min 11.15sec, 76.758pts, 5; Corey Smith (Rakaia) 12min 59.5sec, 81.975pts, 6.
Intermediate final (3 sheep): Sarah Higgins (Havelock) 10min 55.65sec, 58.116pts, 1; Mitchell Murray (Ashburton) 8min 27.06sec, 64.02pts, 2; Kaleb Avery (Blenheim) 10min 14.91sec, 66.412pts, 3; Brandon Maguire Ratima (Winton)10min 54.41sec, 67.721pts, 4; Jordan Hart (Blenheim) 10min 32.25sec, 72.279pts, 5; Sam Thomson (Waipara) 9min 46.94sec, 94.014pts, 6.
Junior final (3 sheep): Marohi Kennedy (Kaikoura) 10min 17.31sec, 75.199pts, 1; Liam Norrie (Geraldine) 13min 20.88sec, 83.044pts, 2; Sam Bryan (Hororata) 13min 4.19sec, 94.21pts, 3; Lachlan Kitt (-) 10min 27.87sec, 98.394pts, 4; Mac Davis (Falkland Islands) 9min 38.35sec, 107.918pts, 5; Harrison Oliver (Waiau) 10min 25.15sec, 115.924pts, 6.
Blades final (5 sheep): Tony Dobbs (Fairlie) 16min 8.72sec, 71.436pts, 1; Peter Race (Rakaia) 16min 20.81sec, 74.441pts, 2; Allen Gemmell (Rangiora) 15min 24.57sec, 76.029pts, 3; Bill Michelle (Timaru) 15min 21.5sec, 77.075pts, 4; Brian Thomson (Christchurch) 16min 49.56sec, 82.278pts, 5; Noel Handley (Rangiora) 15min 36.34sec, 90.217pts, 6.
Canterbury-Queensland Challenge (5 sheep): Canterbury Shears 117.283pts (Nathan Stratford, Invercargill, 9min 47.5sec, 53.775pts; Tony Coster, Rakaia 10min 2.15sec, 63.508pts) beat Queensland 132.133pts (Phil Schaff, Chinchilla, 9min 53.72sec, 58.286pts; Terry O’Leary 9min 52.94sec, 73.487pts) by 14.85pts.

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