Champion shearer Rowland Smith is likely to be the warmest favourite ever to win the Golden Shears open final next week, after an unbeaten record in ten competitions in four weeks.
The 32-year-old Hawke's Bay gun scored his fourth weekend double when he won the open titles at the Southern Shears in Gore and the Franklin A and P Show's Counties Shears in Pukekohe on Saturday and Sunday.
It was at Pukekohe that he won his 100th open title two years ago and he is on target to reach the brink of his 150th over the next days as he faces the Taumarunui Shears on Friday, the Apiti Sports on Saturday, the Pahiatua Shears on Sunday and the 59th Golden Shears open at the end of the famed championships in Masterton on February 28-March 2.
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A win in Masterton will give him a place at the World Championships in France in July and the chance to regain the title he won in Ireland in 2014.
It will also give Smith a 6th Golden Shears open title, equalling the tally of early-years great, Brian "Snow" Quinn", who had six wins from 1965 to 1972 - but still pondering whether he might ever get near the record of 16 wins by Sir David Fagan between 1986 and 2009.
The strongest challenges are expected to come from reigning World Champion and four-times Golden Shears Open winner John Kirkpatrick, also of Hawke's Bay, current New Zealand team members David Buick, of Pongaroa, and Nathan Stratford, of Invercargill, 2015 champion, Scotsman and Taranaki farmer Gavin Mutch well-performing Troy Pyper, also of Invercargill, and up-and-coming Southland hopes Brett Roberts and Casey Bailey, the two most likely to make the six-man open final for the first time.
Kirkpatrick won the South Island Shearer of the Year final in Gore, and is one of seven shearers who have been runner-up to Smith in his last ten wins.
Results from the two A-grade competitions at the weekend were:
Southern Shears shearing and woolhandling championships in Gore on Friday-Saturday, February 15-16, 2019:
CP Wool International Series, third test (15 sheep): New Zealand 113.5148pts (David Buick 15min 26.97sec, 55.5485pts; Nathan Stratford 16min 40.66sec, 57.9663pts) beat Wales 130.2208pts (Lloyd Rees 15min 37.78sec, 62.0223pts; Aled Jones 17min 31.97sec, 68.1985pts) by 16.706pts.
Interisland (15 sheep): North Island 152.298pts (David Buick 14min 29.78sec, 49.5557pts; Rowland Smith 14min 55.44sec, 50.772pts; John Kirkpatrick 15min 15.41sec, 51.9705pts) beats South Island 162.646pts (Nathan Stratford 15min 44.5sec, 52.225pts; Shaun Mathieson 15min 55.03sec, 53.3515pts; Andy Mainland 16min 26.72sec, 57.0693pts) by 10.348pts.
South Island Shearer of the Year (20 sheep): John Kirkpatrick (Pakipaki) 19min 3.66sec, 63.883pts, 1; Caisey Bailey (Riverton) 19min 4.01sec, 65.8005pts, 2; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 19min 44.79sec, 66.4895pts, 3; David Buick (Pongaroa) 19min 22.06sec, 67.103pts, 4; Leon Samuels (Ohai) 19min 37.06sec, 68.203pts, 5; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 20min 3.47sec, 71.1735pts, 6.
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Hastings) 17min 55.59sec, 59.2295pts, 1; David Buick (Pongaroa) 18min 8.41sec, 59.6205pts, 2; John Kirkpatrick (Pakipaki) 18min 24sec, 61.35pts, 3; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 18min 29.66sec, 61.733pts, 4; Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 19min 28.06sec, 62.203pts, 5; Troy Pyper (Invercargill) 18min 48.62sec, 62.931pts, 6.
Senior final (12 sheep): Jade Maguire Ratima (Winton) 14min 9.12sec, 49.3726pts, 1; Lionel Taumata (Taumarunui/Gore) 13min 43.32sec, 2; Brandon Maguire Ratima (Winton) 14min 35sec, 50.75pts, 3; Karipa Tumohe (Balclutha) 14min 39.28sec, 51.214pts, 4; Chris Malcolm (Nightcaps) 13min 59.25sec, 52.2125pts, 5; Luis Pincol (Chile/Waimate) 15min 23.63sec, 52.5982pts, 6.
Intermediate final (5 sheep): Tyson Crown (Mataura) 7min 5.66sec, 26.683pts, 1; John Cherrington (Huntly, Scotland) 8min 6.34sec, 30.117pts, 2; Brayden Clifford (Gore) 8min 18.28sec, 33.114pts, 3; Stacey Whitu (Roxburgh) 7min 8.57sec, 32.4285pts, 4; James Dickson (Gore) 7in 57.31sec, 35.2655pts, 5; Matt Hunt (Waikaka) 8min 22.03sec, 37.5015pts, 6.
Junior final (4 sheep): Brodie Horrell (Gore) 6min 2.69sec, 29.3845pts, 1; Henry Mayo (Dorset, England) 7min 49.94sec, 30.247pts, 2; Hamish Baddiley (Porangahu) 8min 17sec, 33.6pts, 3; Lexie Phillips (Hamilton) 8min 18.18sec, 34.159pts, 4; William Ballantyne (Teviothead, Scotland) 9min 37.53sec, 34.8765pts, 5; Katie Reid 9min 29.5sec, 37.225pts, 6.
Open final: Pagan Karauria (Alexandra) 187.25pts, 1; Tia Potae (Milton) 297.37pts, 2; Keryn Herbert (Te Kuiti) 328.9pts, 3.
Senior final: Nova Kumeroa Elers (Mataura) 97.632pts, 1; Maiden Elers (Mataura) 139.62pts, 2; Krystal Gulliver (Gore) 141.664pts, 3; Tyler Hira (Onewhero) 158.38pts, 4.
Junior final: Krome Elers (Mataura) 63.458pts, 1; Autumn Waihape (Gore) 121.4pts, 2; Gypsy Hoani (Gore) 130.38pts, 3; Phoebe Rangiuaia (Mataura) 140.59pts, 4.
Novice: Stacey Whitu (Roxburgh) 63.918pts, 1; Mitchell Murray (Amberley) 88.4pts, 2; Luke Pablo (-) 98.6pts, 3; Ray Gulliver (Gore) 99.47pts, 4.
Counties Shears at the Franklin A and P Show at Pukekohe on Sunday , February 17, 2019:
Open final (20 sheep): Rowland Smith (Hastings) 16min 12sec, 57.8pts, 1; Mark Grainger (Te Kuiti) 15min 50sec, 60.7pts, 2; Aaron Haynes (Feilding) 16min 33sec, 61.7pts, 3; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 16min 43sec, 61.85pts, 4; Gavin Mutch (Scotland/Whangamomona) 16min 17sec, 69.5pts, 5.
Senior final (8 sheep): Alex Smith (Rakaia) 8min 10sec, 37.625pts, 1; James Lowry (Glen Murray) 8min 50sec, 38.675pts, 2; Ricci Stevens (Napier) 8min 47sec, 41.225pts, 3; Pauline Bolay (Canada) 10min 7sec, 42.85pts, 4; Jordi Grant 8min 54sec, 46.075pts, 5.
Intermediate final (6 sheep): Mark Ferguson (Elsthorpe) 7min 47sec, 32.18pts, 1; Daniel Biggs (Mangamahu) 7min 56sec, 38.47pts, 2; Alan Boler (Te Kauwhata) 8min 26sec, 40.3pts, 3; Cory Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 8min 42sec, 46.27pts, 4.
Junior final (4 sheep): Topia Barrowcliffe (Piopio) 6min 40sec, 30.5pts, 1; Matthew Smith (Otorohanga) 8min 53sec, 32.4pts, 2; Kelvin Welch (Snells Beach) 7min 24sec, 32.45pts, 3; Levi King (Gisborne) 7min 47sec, 36.85pts, 4; Hazel Wood (Ruawai) 8min 59sec, 40.7pts, 5.
Veterans (2 sheep): Phillip Woodward (-) 2min 40sec, 19.5pts, 1; Peter McCabe (Tauranga) 3min 27sec, 21.35pts, 2; Barry Jones (-) 2min 54sec, 24.2pts, 3; Kevin Boyd (Dargaville) 3min 33sec, 32.65pts, 4; Neil Sidwell (Kaukapakapa) 3min 35sec, 33.75pts, 5.