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New Shearing Record Beckons For Women's Shearing Champion

A 34-year-old mum already with an historic background on the shearing board will on Wednesday turn her hand to challenging a World record bid less than three days old.

Catherine Mullooly, from Matawai, Gisborne, will be trying to break the Women’s solo eight-hours strongwool ewe-shearing record of 386, which was shorn by Amy Silcock near Pahiatua on Sunday.

In 2014, with seven wins in 17 finals – including fourth at the Golden Shears in Masterton and fifth at the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti – Mullooly became the first women to attain the No 1 spot in any grade in more than 20 years of Shearing Sports New Zealand annual rankings.

The record bid will take place at remote sheep and beef station Nukuhakari, on the North Taranaki-Southern King Country coast, under the watchful eye of a four-man World Sheep Shearing Records Society

referees panel headed by English official Andy Rankin.

Fellow referees Neil Fagan, Bart Hadfield and Ronnie King also officiated on Sunday when Silcock had successive two-hour-run tallies of 95, 97, 101 and 93, after the judges rejected two sheep in the last run.

Starting at 7am and finishing at 5pm, with breaks of 30 minutes for morning and afternoon tea and an hour for lunch, she was always just ahead of the target pace to break a record of 370 set in England 17 months earlier, but had two sheep rejected by the judges in the two hours.

A sample shear of 10 sheep takes place on Tuesday afternoon, with the sheep needing to average over 3kg of wool each, with Mullooly needing to get onto an average of over 48 sheep an hour from the start to break the record, with supporters keen to see 50-an-hour and the first record tally over 400 ewes in eight hours by a female shearer.

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Mullooly first featured in New Zealand shearing competition results in the 2011, winning junior finals at the early-season Poverty Bay and Hawke’s Bay show, among a season’s record of nine finals, three wins, two second placings, and a third placing at the New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti.

After her big year in 2013-2014 she reached two finals in the Senior grade in 2014-2015, including fourth place at the Otago Shears in Balclutha, and had three wins in the grade the next season, and she has since finished second in the 2018 New Zealand Shears Senior final, won the 2021 women’s final at the New Zealand Shears, and in October reached the Open quarterfinal at the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra.

She also won a Senior final in England in 2017, and was one of the five women featured in the successful 2018 documentary She Shears, following their paths towards competing at the Golden Shears.

Meanwhile, five other shearers from throughout New Zealand are preparing for their big day on Sunday, targeting the five-stand 8 hour strongwool lambs record of 2910 which was set nine years ago.

The Forde Winders Shearing Ltd crew of Max Winders, from Colac Bay, Trent Hewes, from Tuakau, Trevor Holland, from New Plymouth, Ben Boyle, of Invercargill, and Josef Winders, from Tussock Creek, will attempt the record at Campbell’s Block, Hokonui Hills, Gore.

The World Sheep Shearing Records Society oversees record bids from solo to six stand over the standard woolshed working days of eight hours and nine hours, and over the years since the society was established in 1983 records have been set in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England.

A fee of $US3000 is set for a solo record attempt, with multiple stand records, needing additional judges, costing $US4000 for the first two stands plus $US1000 for each other stand, mainly to cover travel costs. All expenses associated with accommodation and meals for official referees are also met by applicants, who also have large crews of woolshed and catering helpers.

Solo eight-hour strongwool shearing records

Women:

Lambs: 686, Megan Whitehouse, at Grant Brothers Tin House, Gore, on December 15, 2023.

Ewes: 386, Amy Silcock, at Ross Na Clonagh, Pahiatua, on January 7, 2024.

Men

Lambs: 754, Jack Fagan, shorn at Puketiti Station, King Country, on December 22, 2022.

Ewes: 644, Rowland Smith, shorn at Trefranck Farm, Cornwall, England, on July 24, 2017.

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