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Welsh Speedster Claims New Zealand's Richest Speed Shear Prize

Welsh shearing team member Llyr Jones further knocked New Zealand’s reputation for having the fastest shearers in the World by winning the country’s richest speed shear prize in Te Kuiti on Saturday night.

Jones claimed $4000 for winning the North Island Speed Shear Championship with a 17.72 second last-blast at the Waitete Rugby Club in Te Kuiti.

New Zealand speed shears supremo Jimmy Samuels, of Marton, was runner-up, shearing 19.1s in the final, third place went to Taihape shearer Reuben Alabaster, who had been top qualifier in both the heats and the semi-finals, and fourth place went to West Australia-based Taumarunui shearer Floyd Neil, who on February 10 won the A$20,000 first prize at the Oberon Quick Shear in NSW.

On Saturday there were some big casualties along the way, with Golden Shears Speed Shear winner Paerata Abraham eliminated in the heats, and event organiser and New Zealand Rural Games Speed Shear winner Jack Fagan, of Te Kuiti, making the semi-final cut of 12 but then just missing a place in the top six for the final shootout.

Jones had been among the top competitors in other speed shear events in the North and South islands this year, and won the Aotea Sports Club speed shear in Dannevirke on February 2.

Golden Shears Senior shearing champion Forde Alexander, of Taumarunui, underlined his prowess in the short-form of the speed shear arena by winning Saturday night’s Senior final, blocking the possibility of a UK double with Callum Bosley, from Cornwall, England, having to settle for second place. Sean Fagan, of Te Kuiti, was third, and Cheyden Winiana, of Nuhaka, was fourth.

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Jack Fagan and King Country selection teammate and Clay Harris, of Piopio, beat Jones and Welsh teammate Gethin Lewis in a speed shear relay of one sheep each.

The speed shear was the fourth in the five rounds of the JR King Country Speed Shear Circuit, in honour of shearer and father-of-two James Ritchie who died in a crash west of Te Kuiti in February 2018.

Earlier rounds this season were at Matiere, Taumarunui, and Aria and the final round will be on April 4, the first day of season-ending New Zealand Shears in Te Kuiti.

Earlier on Saturday, Jones and Lewis were to have shorn in the second Wools of New Zealand Shearing Series test, of 20 sheep each, against the New Zealand team of Abraham and brother-in-law David Gordon, at the Waitomo Caves Sports shearing championships. But the sports, including the shearing, had to be cancelled because of heavy rain.

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