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22 November 2023
National Shearing Circuit

Two wins, a service award, flying, a road trip - the weekend of right honourable Stratty

Prolific winning Southland shearing legend Nathan Stratford has won a lot of titles in more than 30 years of competition shearing but still had time for something different at the Canterbury Shears’ New Zealand Corriedale shearing and woolhandling championships in Christchurch on Thursday and Friday.

On Friday, he won the Corriedales open title for the fourth time, and on Saturday a his fifteenth West Otago A&P title in Tapanui.

Stratford was also presented with the Keith Fincham Memorial Trophy, such a surprise to him, while driving to the next competition, the right honourable “Stratty” was still wondering what it was for.

The trophy is awarded for the “Most Outstanding Contribution to the Shearing Section of the Canterbury A&P.” It’s not presented every year, so Stratford might have missed seeing it a few times in the 32 years he’s competed in Christchurch.

This is the first time the Keith Fincham Memorial Trophy has been presented to an active competitor other than someone involved in running the Canterbury Shears. This is also a rare event for the variety of service awards presented at shearing competitions throughout the country.

Stratford hasn’t missed the Canterbury show since he first competed in the event, and the 2023 open final was his nineteenth final since 2001. 

With six wins behind him in the junior and intermediate classes at other shows, Stratford’s first appearance in a final at Christchurch was in 1994 when he won the senior title.

He has won the open final in 2005, 2016, 2019 and now in 2023.

He has been runner-up eight times, in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2022.

In winning the show’s Canterbury Circuit final in 2016 – a series which requires competing in at least five competitions in the Canterbury region –  he became only the third shearer to win all three of New Zealand’s all-breeds titles.

Stratford has now won the New Zealand Shears Circuit final in Te Kuiti in three times and National Circuit final at the Golden Shears in Masterton twice. 

In Christchurch, he scored maximum points in this year’s PGG Wrightson/Vetmed National Shearing Circuit for the third time in the three legs to date.

His achievements in shearing nationally were recognised in 2014 when he was acclaimed a Master Shearer by Shearing Sports New Zealand.

He won a World teams title in Invercargill in 2017, and he’s now shorn more Trans-Tasman tests than any other New Zealand shearer.

Friday’s open final in Christchurch was a top six-man contest, with Stratford beating runner-up and 2021 winner Angus Moore, of Seddon, by 2.69pts. 

With a further 1.73pts to Masterton shearer and reigning NZ Shears Circuit champion Paerata Abraham in third place, and defending Corriedales champion Jack Fagan, of Te Kuiti, a further 1.1pts away in fourth place. 

Abraham made the pace, finishing the 12 sheep in 13min 51.46sec, beating next-man-off Moore by 22 seconds. Stratford, finishing in 14min 46.44sec, made up the time-points deficit with markedly the best quality, including incurring just 11 penalties in the eyes of the judges on the shearing board, an average of less than 1 per sheep, and less than half the number incurred by any other shearer and equating to just 0.92 penalty points.

Stratford’s one downer was his Southland team’s defeat in losing a Colin King Shield challenge to holders North Canterbury, who were headed by Rangiora shearer Hugh De Lacy, who won the Canterbury Circuit final.

North Canterbury also fielded senior final winner and Rangiora-based Blake Crooks, and Southland also fielded intermediate winner Emma Martin and junior winner Jet Schimanski, both based in Gore.

Meanwhile, veteran blades shearer Tony Dobbs reckons he’s the youngest and the oldest to win the Shears’ Golden Blades title, 40 years after he first won the event, at the age of 21, in 1983. His win, by 3.75pts from runner-up and current New Zealand teammate Allen Gemmell, of Loburn, guaranteed him a continued place in the New Zealand Trans-Tasman team for 2024-2025.

After a flight delay in Christchurch on Saturday and a drive of over an hour from Invercargill to Tapanui, Stratford almost missed out on competing at the West Otago A&P Show, where victory took him to 83 wins in open finals, including two in the UK.

He first won at Tapanui in the intermediate final in 1992, when there were 83 shearing sports competitions throughout the country, mainly at A&P shows, and followed up with a senior final two years later and first won the open final in 2000.

He’s already won at five competitions in the new season, which has 59 shows nationwide from the end of September to early April.

In a four-man final, Stratford produced the trademark quality for best points both on the shearing board and in the judging pens, but also pipped Mataura shearer Brett Roberts, by just under 3 seconds in the race for fastest time.

Stratford shore the 19 sheep in 17min 45.91sec, and beat Roberts by 2.65pts in the final count, with first time open-finalist Jesse Barclay, of Mataura, claiming 3rd place.

The other two finals at Tapanui were also won by shearers who had competed in Christchurch the previous day, where each had been runner-up.

Dre Roberts, of Mataura, claimed the senior title with a winning margin of 10 points, but there was just 0.0855pts in it in the intermediate final in which Cody Waihape turned the tables on fellow Gore-based shearer Emma Martin, whose win in Christchurch was her fifth intermediate win of the season.

The only remaining competition pre-Christmas in the South Island is at the Nelson A&P Show next Saturday, when the only North Island competition will be at the Stratford A&P Show.

The last competitions before Christmas are at the Whangarei and Rotorua A&P shows on December 2, but there will then be a busy run with World Record attempts before the first show competition of the New Year on January 13, at Duvauchelle.

The first record attempt will be on December 15 when Megan Whitehead and Hannah McColl challenge the women’s 2-stand strongwool lambs record for 8 hours near Gore, a tally of 903 set by Wairoa mother-and-daughter Marg and Ingrid Baynes in a King Country woolshed in 2009.



 Results of shearing events at the 56th anniversary Canterbury Shears’ New Zealand Corriedale Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at the New Zealand Agricultural Show, Christchurch, on Thursday-Friday November 16-17, 2023: 

Open final (12 sheep): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 14min 46.44sec, 50.99pts, 1; Angus Moore (Seddon) 14min 13.56sec, 52.68pts, 2; Paerata Abraham (Masterton) 13min 51.46sec, 54.41pts, 3; Jack Fagan (Te Kuiti) 14min 39.9sec, 55.51pts, 4; David Gordon (Masterton) 16min 14.63sec,59.06pts, 5; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 16min 20.94sec, 59.13pts, 6.

Open Plate (11 sheep): Taare Edwards (Rakaia) 16min 48.53sec, 61.15pts, 1; James Ruki (Te Kuiti) 16min 9.47sec, 61.75pts, 2; Adam Gordon (Masterton) 16min 2.65sec, 62.68pts, 3; Duncan Leslie (Alexandra) 16min 16.79sec, 64.38pts, 4; Lionel Taumata (Gore) 18min 24.5sec, 66.77pts, 5; Alex Smith (Rakaia) 19min 31.19sec, 70.56pts, 6.

Canterbury Circuit final (12 sheep): Hugh De Lacy (Rangiora) 16min 42sec, 59.68pts, 1; Lyall Windleburn (Rangiora) 16min 20sec, 60.17pts, 2; Shaun Burgess (Rakaia) 17min 46sec, 60.38pts, 3; Luis Pincol (Chile/Geraldine) 17min 57sec, 63.52pts, 4; Taare Edwards (Rakaia) 16min 19sec, 64.53pts, 5; Willy McSkimming (Oamaru) 16min 6sec, 66.8pts, 6.   

Senior final (10 sheep): Blake Crooks (Rangiora) 16min 2.25sec, 68.41pts, 1; Dre Roberts (Mataura) 20min 18.06sec, 74pts, 2; Alice Watson (Seddon) 20min 31.54sec, 76.28pts, 3; Hemi Paniora (Rolleston) 20min 16.57sec, 77.73pts, 4; Josh Quinn (Seddon) 16min 32.91sec, 79.25pts, 5; Aaron McGee (Ireland) 21min 1.47sec, 80.27pts, 6.

Intermediate final (6 sheep): Emma Martin (Wyndham) 15min 9.28sec, 54.8pts, 1; Cody Waihape (Gore) 14min 44.22sec, 58.71pts, 2; Lydia Thomson (Rangiora) 15min 52.09sec, 63.94pts, 3; Coby Lambert (Napier) 15min 49.93sec, 67.83pts, 4; Merlot Tupara (Gisborne/Picton) 14min 31.84sec, 68.43pts, 5; Angus Crombie (Blenheim) 16min 49.35sec, 72.3pts, 6.

Junior final (3 sheep): Jet Schimanski (Gore) 8min 19sec, 39.28pts, 1; Trae Karaka (Amberley) 9min 9sec, 52.78pts, 2; Peter Losty (Ireland) 10min 9sec, 57.78pts, 3; Kane Miles (Christchurch) 9min 43sec, 62.82pts, 4; Trace Paton (Timaru) 9min 25sec, 64.92pts, 5.   

Women (3 sheep): Emma Martin (Wyndham) 7min 44sec, 29.53pts, 1; Alice Watson (Seddon) 7min 35sec, 40.75pts, 2; Lydia Thomson (Rangiora) 9min 23sec, 43.48pts, 3; Trace Patton (Timaru) 8min 41sec, 68.38pts, 4.

Blades final (5 sheep): Tony Dobbs (Fairlie) 19min 14sec, 66.3pts, 1; Allen Gemmell (Loburn) 19min 17sec, 70.05pts, 2; Tim Hogg (Rolleston) 18min 48sec, 71.6prs, 3; Shaun Burgess (Rakaia) 19min 50sec, 82.3pts, 4; Evalyn McGregor (Glenorchy) 21min 58sec, 95.3pts, 5.

Colin King Shield (10 sheep): North Canterbury (Hugh De Lacy, Blake Crooks, Lydia Thomson, Trae Karaka) 19min 41.68sec, 73.98pts, 1; Southland (Nathan Stratford, Dre Roberts, Emma Martin, Jet Schimanski) 21min 57.28sec, 77.56pts, 2; Mid-South Canterbury (Alex Smith, James Wilson, Coby Lambert, Tracey Paton) 21min 40.78sec, 77.94pts, 3.


West Otago

 RESULTS from the West Otago A&P Show shearing championships at Tapanui on Saturday, November 18, 2023:

Open final (19 sheep): Nathan Stratford (Invercargill) 17min 45.91sec,. 56.6113pts, 1; Brett Roberts (Mataura) 17min 48.53sec, 59.2686pts, 2; Jesse Barclay (Mataura) 20min 29.25sec, 68.9888pts, 3; Willie Hewitson (Gore) 20min 21.56sec, 78.0254pts, 4.

Senior final (8 sheep): Dre Roberts (Mataura) 9min 1.29sec, 33.4395pts, 1; Brendon McGregor (Mataura) 10min 29.5sec, 43.6pts, 2; Jordan White (Balclutha) 11min 3.75sec, 43.8125pts, 3; Mark Calder (Balclutha) 10min 18.75sec, 50.4375pts, 4.

Intermediate final (5 sheep): Cody Waihape (Gore) 7min 25.4sec, 28.47pts, 1; Emma Martin (Wyndham) 7min 37.09sec, 28.6545pts, 2; T K Kempthorne (Winton) 6min 45.79sec, 34.0895pts, 3; James Hogan (Invercargill) 9min 38.75sec, 41.7375pts, 4. 

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