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A Tough Day At The Office In A Wairarapa Woolshed

Masterton shearers Paerata Abraham and Chris Dickson have fallen 20 short of their target in a bid for the World two-stand eight-hours strongwool lambshearing record.

But it was a case of if-only for the pair who sheared more than the record of 1410 but had a number discounted by five World Sheep Shearing Records Society referees as the quality suffered in the rush to get-back on-track when the goal started to distance from early afternoon of the attempt at Whitespurs, near Gladstone, between Masterton and the Wairarapa coast.

Starting at 7am and needing an average of 176.375 an hour to break the record set in January this year by Simon Goss, of Mangamahu, and Jamie Skiffington, of Rotorua, the challengers got off to a good start with 359, ahead of pace, in the two hours to the first break.

The second-run total of 343, while down a step, had their half-way total level-pegging with the 702 of the Goss-Skiffington record, but when the last run started at 3pm the target had ballooned to 179 an hour and a task beyond comfortable reach on the day.

The official total was 1391, with Abraham, originally from Dannevirke, for credited with a tally 699 and Dickson, from Raetihi and Eketahuna, 692 after starting with the better tally in the opening run.

The lambs were considered a little bigger than those in two women’s records in the South Island in the previous eight days. A sample-shear on Friday had 20 lambs averaging 1.125kg of wool each, well over the minimum requirement of 0.9kg a lamb.

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“Some were more Romney so they had a longer crimp, so they combed like butter,” said commentator Tuma Mullins. “Some were a bit more open, but had more attitude. There were some quite big long lambs amongst them. The she shape seemed OK, but they looked to be constantly wriggling.”

The shearing fraternity had flocked in numbers to either help or support the pair who are well known on the competition circuit with Abraham the reigning New Zealand Shears Circuit champion and a former winner of the national circuit, which crosses five wool types, and Dickson a successful lower grades shearer now in the Open class.

But after what was widely considered a brave effort to keep going to the end, Mullins’ “player of the day” was the “1000 per cent” manager, Abraham’s wife and fellow New Zealand representative Cushla. “She was everywhere,” Mullins said.

There’s little rest. Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and back into the day job in the woolsheds. “Start back on the 27th,” Cushla said.

It was the third of three pre-Christmas record attempts in New Zealand with five to follow this season, including four in the first three weeks of the New Year.

The next will be on January 7 when Amy Silcock will make a second attempt on the Women's solo eight-hours strongwool ewes record of 370, which was shorn by Marie Prebble, of England, at Trefranck Farm, Cornwall, in August 2022.

Silcock sheared 348 in an unsuccessful bid in late-January this year, but does share a four-stand record in which she sheared 423 in nine hours three years ago.

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