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Golden Shears Entries Up 25 Per Cent - 500 Shearers And Woolhandlers In Masterton

The Golden Shears starting in Masterton tomorrow (Thursday) have attracted the biggest entry in many years with about 500 shearers and woolhandlers competing – more than 25 per cent up on last year.

The five shearing grades and four woolhandling grades, from Novice to Open, have a combined capacity entry of 508 and office manager Deb Keats says almost all spots are filled, with late entries queueing in the hope of getting runs if there are any withdrawals.

Some have entered both shearing and woolhandling, but with the addition of some woolpressing competitors who are not in shearing or woolhandling events the number of individual competitors is expected to round-off at about 500.

It’s almost twice as many as the biggest entry at any of the 45 competitions so far on the 2023-2024 Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar, and compares with a total of 388 shearing and woolhandling at last year’s Golden Shears.

New Golden Shears International Shearing Championships Society president Trish Stevens said: “We’re absolutely overwhelmed. We are particularly pleased with the numbers of Novice and Junior entries.”

The Novice shearing (66 entries), Junior shearing (72), and Novice woolhandling (24) have all reached capacity.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, when the Wairarapa Pre-Shears woolhandling championships were still in progress in a woolshed north of Masterton, there was still a small numbers of places available in the Golden Shears Junior woolhandling, which has a capacity of 48 to start in heats on Thursday morning in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, where the Golden Shears have been held annually since 1961, except in the cancellations of 2021 and 2022.

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Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman and shearing legend Sir David Fagan, who in a 33-seasons open-class career netted more than 640 titles worldwide, including a record 16 in the Golden Shears Open championships, said he was so excited by the numbers “it makes me feel like entering again.”

He said that while sheep numbers have dipped below 26 million (focused on breeding ewes), there is still plenty of shearing in the workplace, with the combination of main shear, second shear and lambs expanding the numbers shorn to over 50 million.

Factors in the increase include greater numbers of competitors from overseas working in New Zealand this summer – including a group from Mongolia and an another group partnering an exchange group of young shearers with New Zealand trainer Elite Wool Industry Training and Australia trainers. There are also competitors from Scotland, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, France and Germany.

Among other factors are the rebound from Covid era and its border closures and the profile shearing opportunities have been given with a sequence of shearing tally records during the summer, in particular the setting of new women’s marks for eight and nine-hour records on both ewes and lambs.

Competition starts at 7.45am on Thursday, with about events to be decided by the time glamour event the 20-sheep Golden Shears Open Shearing Championship final – the “Wimbledon” of shearing – is completed on Saturday night. Teams event include a schools shearing match on Thursday, transtasman test matches in woolhandling and shearing, and a new regional teams contest.

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