Rejuvenated Mutch aims high

By Doug Laing



If Gavin Mutch was a racehorse he probably would have been put down last year, if not just before he became world shearing champion at Masterton then not long afterwards.

Now, if the Taranaki-based Scottish farmer and shearer was still a racehorse, the formline could read: "Forward in condition, ready to resume."

More boldly, it might add: "The ironhorse is back."

That sums up the 33-year-old who beat the Kiwi favourites in last year's world championships in Masterton, without anything other than guts and determination to help him over the shoulder injury that days earlier had him set to pull out.

He'd dislocated his right shoulder - that's his shearing one - and it was popping in and out, but stayed in place for the crucial preliminary rounds and, most importantly, the 19min 12.27s it took to shear the 20-sheep final and pip defending champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, and event favourite John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, for the premier title.

Remarkably, he had also survived the teams event the previous night, when he and teammate Hamish Mitchell came within 0.7 points of beating the Kiwis in the teams final, although they'd won a tooth-and-nail race for time honours as the two teams finished more than two minutes ahead of the next best.

Few knew of what he had endured as the kilted-one held aloft the trophy after the individual final but, already thinking of winning again two years hence, Mutch knew there was plenty to do to even be able to defend the title in Ireland in 2014.

Foregoing the usual mid-year trip home to Aberdeenshire, he underwent keyhole surgery in New Plymouth, and set about being fit in time for the Scottish team selection events in the Northern Hemisphere this year.

After the operation in July, Mutch returned to the Whangamomona farm where he lives with Kiwi wife Pip and their three children, and by late-November he was into fulltime mob shearing and soon doing over 350 ewes and lambs a day.

Topped with three long days weaning and dipping among the 3000 sheep on the farm this week, the self-diagnosis was simple. "I think I'm a bit ahead of where I thought I would be at this stage."

It hasn't all been plain sailing though. A single bad shot on a hock in an otherwise good shear at the national Corriedale Championships at the 150th Canterbury Show cost him dearly and he now finds himself needing a good one to break into the top 12 to qualify for the showdown for the 2013 Golden Shears, as he did two years ago. He would, also, dearly love to win the Golden Shears Open, having already been the only Northern Hemisphere shearer ever to contest its final.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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