Stratford's star on the rise

By Doug Laing


Golden Shears

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford looks set for a bold showing at the 2013 Golden Shears in Masterton.

He ended four years of northern domination of Southland's major shearing events by winning last Friday's national fullwool crossbred open title at Castlerock Station, Lumsden.

But the fortunes were reversed the next day when runner-up, Napier gun and regular Southland competitions winner John Kirkpatrick - the Golden Shears open champion - beat Stratford by two lambs and a final total of almost six points in the national crossbred lambshearing championship final at the Winton A & P Show.

With Kirkpatrick having won both events for three years consecutively in 2009, 2010 and 2011, matched last year by fellow Hawke's Bay shearer Dion King, Stratford's win on Friday was the first by a South Island shearer in either event since his own win in the lambshearing final in 2008.

It was a year longer since the last southern win in the open final at Lumsden, Tuatapere shearer Alton Devery's victory in 2007.

Stratford claimed a place in the team when he won the New Zealand Circuit final in Te Kuiti last season, and then shared in a 2-2 series draw against Wales in Britain, where he won the Corwen Open final in the last event of the tour. Winton contractor Darrin Forde was the fastest in both weekend finals, showing he still has the pace after more than 20 years in open-class shearing, but when all points were counted had to settle with two third placings in the six-man showdowns.

He finished the 20 sheep of the fullwoolled ewes final in 18min 6.7s, more than 13s ahead of second-man-off Kirkpatrick, and on Saturday took 16min 51s, beating Kirkpatrick by 9s.

Dipton shearer Cory Palmer relied on quality to overcome the speed of Mataura gun Brett Roberts to win both senior finals.

The shows also featured the first woolhandling events on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar since November, both seeing the defeat of world champion Joel Henare, who had won four finals earlier in the season.

Tia Potae, of Milton, won the fullwool title at Lumsden, with Tina Rimene, of Masterton second and Henare having to settle for fourth, while in the lambs final on Saturday he was runner-up to Keryn Herbert, of Te Awamutu, reversing the placings of last year's Winton final.

Rimene was third in the woolhandling at Winton while another Masterton competitor, shearer Ethan Pankhurst, did well in the intermediate grades at both events, placing fourth at Lumsden and second at Winton.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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