Wool pros make history

South Australian shearer Shannon Warnest.GIANT-KILLING shearer Shannon Warnest and Australian wool handlers Rachel Hutchison and Aroha Garvin made history at the New Zealand Corriedale Championships last week.

Warnest, 34, was the first overseas shearer to win the open machine shearing final at the NZ Corriedale Championships in the event’s 52 years, with his quality work outclassing a top Kiwi field.

Australia’s woolhandling team of Hutchison from New South Wales and Garvin from Western Australia, scored Australia’s first win over New Zealand in a woolhandling test in New Zealand since 1999, beating Keryn Herbert, of Te Kuiti, and Veronica (Ronnie) Goss, of Apiti.

Warnest finished last off the board in the six-man open final over 10 sheep, a minute and 45 seconds behind first-man off and Southland veteran Darin Forde, and 39 seconds behind fifth-man-off Nathan Stratford, also from Southland. It was Warnest’s superior quality that won the day in a close finish with 0.709pts covering the first three placings, Shearing Sports New Zealand said.

The 37-year-old South Australian father-of-two, who farms and owns a hotel as well as shearing and instructing, also led teammates Nathan Mealey, also from South Australia, and West Australian Mark Buscomb, to an Australian record third win in a row over New Zealand in trans-Tasman tests, beating New Zealanders John Kirkpatrick, of Napier, Tony Coster, of Rakaia, and Colin O’Neill, of Alexandra.

The only glory for New Zealand in a series of events in which the black-singlet was expected to rule supreme was a win in the blades shearing test, and a hometown victory for Huia Whyte-Puna in the Open woolhandling final, in which Australian team member Aroha Garvin was third.

Warnest had not only never won a title in New Zealand but had almost never reached a final in this country.

“It’s a bit hard to believe,” he said.

“Crikey, mate, I go to the Goldies in Masterton (the Golden Shears) and I’m happy to make the Top 30.”

Yesterday’s event had a tough field, helped by it being the compulsory first round a series to pick two New Zealand machine shearing representatives for the World Championships in Masterton in March, for which Warnest is now a clear contender to again shatter the Kiwi dreams.

Several highly-rated competitors were eliminated in the open shearing semi-finals, including favourite, defending champion and reigning Golden Shears champion Kirkpatrick, Hawke’s Bay-based Northland shearer and New Zealand Open champion Rowland Smith, five-times World champion David Fagan, of Te Kuiti, and current world champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa. The only North Island qualifier was Smith’s brother, Matthew, tailing the field with Stratford claiming second place, West Coast shearer Jason Win was third, Coster fourth, and Forde fifth.

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