Scotland Hopeful For New Zealand National Shearing Title
Former World champion and proud Scotland international Gavin Mutch is leading the chase in search of the 49th New Zealand national circuit title and the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown.
With four of five qualifying rounds completed, Mutch, based in New Zealand for more than 20 years, holds the No 1 ranking and is a guaranteed top-12 qualifier for the final stages during the Golden Shears on March 4-6.
The semi-finals will be shorn on the morning of March 6, cutting the field to six for the final a few hours later on shearing’s biggest night out, alongside the Golden Shears Open shearing and woolhandling finals.
On the same stage Mutch won the World Championship final in 2012 and the Golden Shears Open final in 2015.
Based mainly at Whangamomona but now managing a farm in Southern Hawke’s Bay, he is yet to win the National Circuit and is facing tough competition from four former winners.
The 2014 winner, 2019 and 2020 runner-up Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, is in second place and also guaranteed qualification, as are defending champion, two-times winner and third-placed Angus Moore, from Marlborough, and 2019 winner and Masterton shearer Paerata Abraham, currently in fourth place.
The 2013 and 2018 winner, four-times Golden Shears Open winner, 2017 World champion and Hawke’s Bay shearer John Kirkpatrick, is all-but guaranteed qualifying, currently in 7th place.
The McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown was first presented at the Golden Shears in 1973 and is regarded as the ironman event of New Zealand shearing, with expertise in fine wool (merino), longwool, corriedales, lambs shearing and second-shear competition.
Qualifying points this season have been taken from placings in heats at the Winter Comb and Spring Shears championships in Waimate in October, the Canterbury Shears in November and the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton on February 7.
The last and compulsory final round is at the 50th anniversary Pahiatua Shears at Mangaone Valley, Pahiatua, on February 28.
Mutch claimed maximum qualifying points in the Spring Shears and Lambs rounds, top Merino points were scored by Mataura shearer Brett Roberts, who is yet to win the title, and Abraham topped the points at the Canterbury Shears.
Among winners are 10 Golden Shears Open champions, including Sir David Fagan (9 times) and eventual MP Colin King (6 wins). Southland shearer Darin Forde and Canterbury specialist Tony Coster each won the Circuit four times, but have not won the Golden Shears Open, while 1989 Golden Shears winner Edsel Forde added to the South Island influence in the circuit with three wins in the final.
The current Top 12 is: Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Dannevirke), 31pts, 1; Nathan Stratford (invercargill), 29pts, 2; Angus Moore (Seddon), 28pts, 3; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) and Brett Roberts (Mataura), 24pts, 4 equal; Ringakaha Paewai (Gore), 20pts, 6; John Kirkpatrick (Pakipaki), 18pts, 7 Troy Pyper (Cheviot), Axle Reid (Taihape) and Leon Samuels (Invercargill), 17pts, 8 equal; Simon Goss (Mangamahu), 14pts, 11; Matene Mason (Masterton), 13pts, 12.
Others are: James Ruki (Te Kuiti), 12pts, 13; Aaron Haynes (Feilding), 11pts, 14; Hemi Braddick (Eketahuna), Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) and David Gordon (Masterton), 10pts, 15 equal; Duncan Higgins (Blenheim) and Jimmy Samuels (Marton), 9pts, 18 equal; Lionel Taumata (Gore), 8pts, 20;
Paul Hodges (Geraldine), 6pts, 21; Chris Vickers (Palmerston), 4pts, 22; Sarah Higgins (Blenhim), Alex Smith (Rakaia), Ricci Stevens (Napier) and Phil Wedd (Silverdale), 3pts, 23 equal; David Gower (Stratford) and Tamihana Karauria (Alexandra), 2pts, 27 equal.