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World’s biggest finewool championships begin

October 5, 2017

World’s biggest finewool championships begin

Shearers and woolhandlers from across New Zealand and Australia are arriving in the Central Otago town of Alexandra for the World’s biggest finewool championships tomorrow and Saturday.

The NZ Merino Championships, first held in 1962 and which opens a Shearing Sports New Zealand season of 61 shows ending on the first weekend of April, is the only finewool shearing show in New Zealand.

It features a transtasman Merino shearing match, the New Zealand Open and Senior Merino shearing championships, and the New Zealand Open, Senior and Junior Merino woolhandling championships.

There is also a popular shearing and woolhandling event with origins in the traditional rivalry between shearing gangs for which competitors work each year, and the similarly-popular Teddy Bear Shear where children start following in the footsteps of their shearing dads and mums, some remarkably forward with their knowledge of the shearing style barely as soon as they’ve started school.

The Open shearing championship incorporates the first round of the PGG Wrightson National, which was first held as the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown in 1973, aimed at finding New Zealand champion shearer across the different wool types.

Two more rounds will be held in the South Island, the longwool round at the 50th NZ Spring Shears at Waimate on October 13-14, and the coarsewool round at the Canterbury Show’s NZ Corriedale Championships on November 16-17.

Post-Christmas in the North Island the lambshearing round is at the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton on February 3, and the second shear round at the Pahiatua Shears on February 25.

The top 12 across the series, based on points for placings in the heats at each round, qualify for the finals at the Golden Shears in Masterton on March 1-3.

The Alexandra championships will also feature the first round of the new Golden Fleece Allbreed InvitationWool Handling series.

The series’ are among several shearing, woolhandling and blades shearing circuits held in New Zealand during the summer, including the New Zealand Shears Circuit decided at the New Zealand Championships in Te Kuiti in April, the South and North Island Shearer of the Year circuits decided at Gore in February and at Te Kuiti respectively, and the South and North Island woolhandling circuits, decided at Gore and at the Pre-Shears Woolhandling Championships near Masterton at the end of February.


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