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Shearing Gun Stratford Bows Out Of Transtasman Series With Winning Double

Multi-breeds shearing legend Nathan Stratford has turned-down the transtasman test match opportunity that came with winning the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit for a third time at the Golden Shears in Masterton on Saturday night.

But before he confirmed the call he made sure he would bow out on a winning note, in an all-South Island New Zealand team which beat Australia in his 18th transtasman test - a New Zealand team record.

Having first shorn in the annual home-and-away series in 2006, the Southland shearer says it’s time for younger shearers to have the chance, but he’s not finished with international competition and will be trying to win selection for the 2026 World Championships, also in Masterton.

With runner-up and fellow Southland shearer Leon Samuels retaining a place in the three-man team by becoming the first South Island winner of the Golden Shears Open championship in 35 years, the circuit’s position in the team goes to third placegetter and Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan.

The other position in the team, for tests in Katanning, West Australia, during the Australian National Championships on October 24-26 and at the Golden Shears next year, will go to the highest-placed New Zealand shearer in the New Zealand Merino Shears Open final three weeks earlier.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand contingent will also include two blade shearers, yet to be decided, and two woolhandlers, expected to include 2023 World Championships representative Ngaio Hanson, of Eketahuna, who won the right when second in Saturday’s North Island Woolhandling Circuit final.

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The winner, Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti, is ineligible having competed for Cook Islands at last year’s World Championships, and the second woolhandler will also come from the Merino championships in October.

In his 27th season as an Open-class shearer, with 85 Open-final wins to his name, plus a World teams’ championship in 2017, Stratford has now shorn the National Shearing Circuit final 20 times, making his debut when fourth in 2000.

His association with the event almost parallels that of major sponsor PGG Wrightson, which is in its 22nd year of its support, and has committed to another three years.

Stratford also won in 2014 and 2022, and was runner-up in 2019 and 2020, and third in 2001, 2012, 2015 and 2017.

He made his transtasman series debut in Hay, NSW, in 2006, and other tests in Australia were again in Hay in 2008, Errowanbang, NSW, in 2014, Warialda, NSW, in 2016, Perth in 2018, Dubbo, NSW, in 2019, Bendigo, Vic, in 2022, and Jamestown, SA, last October. The rest were all at the Golden Shears in Masterton.

He was clear favourite for Saturday’s 15-sheep final, after being top qualifier in the first three legs, on finewool at Alexandra in September, strongwool in Waimate in October, and corriesdales in Christchurch, and then second-to-top on both the lambs at Marton and second-shear ewes at Pahiatua in last month.

He was headed only by Fagan in Saturday morning’s top-12 semi-finals, and in the final over three sheep of each of the wool types, was second-to last to finish but had clearly the best quality points, just enough for a win by 0.355pts over runner-up Samuels.

Fagan, son of nine-times winner Sir David Fagan, was third, just 0.515pts further back, fourth and fifth were Masterton brothers-in-law Paerata Abraham (the 2019 winner) and David Gordon, and sixth was Northland shearer Toa Henderson, who was first to finish, shearing the 15 sheep in 16m 45.366s.

Stratford won the McSkimming Memorial Trophy, on which the circuit was founded in 1972-1973, cash and vouchers together worth $1800, and a year’s lease of a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV.

On Saturday Stratford, Samuels and 2023 PGG Wrightson Vetmed circuit winner Angus Moore were in an all-South Island team that scored a win by just 2.51pts in the Masterton leg of the transtasman series, beating the Australian team of Daniel McIntyre, of Glen Innes, NSW, Nathan Meaney, of Kapunda, SA, and new representative Josh Bone, of Nhill, Vic.

The annual home-and-away transtasman test series started in Euroa, Vic., in 1974, and of 73 tests now shorn Australia has won 38 and New Zealand 31.

The weekend win made it 2-0 for the Kiwis after woolhandlers Cushla Abraham, of Masterton, and Tia Potae, from Harataunga in the Coromandel, beat a new Australian team of Marlene Whittle, of Maryborough, Vic, and Alexander Schoff, of Chinchilla, Qld, in the woolhandling international on Friday.

© Scoop Media

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