Aussies ranked high, but Kiwis favoured in world shearing and wool titles

Nick Jeffrey February 6, 2017
Sophie Huf in action at Warialda. Picture - Emma MacDonald.

Sophie Huf in action. Picture – Emma MacDonald.

AUSTRALIA’s national wool handling champion Sophie Huf has been ranked among the top six chances for the world title in New Zealand this week.

Huf is attending her first world championship as a member of the Australian team and has been rated a 13-1 chance.

Australia’s two-time world champion Shannon Warnest and teammate Jason Wingfield have also opened at odds of 13-1 for the shearing title.

The 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships starts at Invercargill on Wednesday with with shearers and wool handlers from 32 countries competing.

The importance of home advantage looks like it will be a major factor when the world championship titles are handed out on Saturday in Invercargill, according to New Zealand’s TAB.

A long-time supporter of Shearing Sports New Zealand, the TAB has opened its book on the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships at ILT Stadium Southland.

NZ wool handler Joel Henare.

NZ wool handler Joel Henare.

New Zealand woolhandler Joel Henare is the shortest of favourites, opening at just $1.50 to win his second world championship. The 25-year old master woolhandler is already a veteran, attending his third world championship this week and showed he is peaking at the right time with a comprehensive win in the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year final in Balclutha on Saturday, the eighth time he is won that prestigious title in the last 10 years.

Defending world champion Hilary Bond of England has opened at $7.00, followed by Norway’s Jonathon Haakull who placed third at the last World Championships in 2014 ($8.00) and Henare’s New Zealand team mate Mary-Anne Baty ($9.00).

National champions Sophie Huf (Australia) and Southland-based Robyn Charlton (Wales) round out the top six at $13.

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Machine shearers will be hardest to pick

The TAB suggests the machine shearing will be the hardest of the three individual titles to pick.

Experienced New Zealand team member Johnny Kirkpatrick of Napier opens as a narrow favourite at $4.50, ahead of team-mate Nathan Stratford ($5) who will line up for his first World Championship in front of his home crowd in Invercargill.

NZ shearer John Kirkpatrick.

NZ shearer John Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick enters his fourth world championship this week and while he has two world teams titles to his name, the individual title has eluded him with second, third and fifth-place finishes in his three appearances to date.

Stratford has been in hot form, winning three competitions in as many weeks in Southland across the three fleece-types he will face at World Champs – full-wool, second-shear and lamb’s wool.

Taranaki-based Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who lifted the 2012 trophy when the event was last held in New Zealand, is also predicted to be right there when the title is handed out, opening as third-favourite at $6.00.

A six-strong group has opened at $13 including Irish world record-holder Ivan Scott, defending world teams title-holder Hamish Mitchell (Scotland), two-time world champion Shannon Warnest (Australia), his Australian team-mate Jason Wingfield and the Northern Ireland duo of Ivan Montgomery and Jack Robinson.

The blade shearing is not surprisingly dominated by the southern African nations, who have claimed the last ten blade shearing world titles on offer, dating back to 1988.

Defending world champion Mayenseke Shweni of South Africa has as a $3.75 favourite, followed by Lesotho’s Zingizele Elliot Ntsombo and Bangani Joel (South Africa) at $5.00.

1988 world champion Tony Dobbs of New Zealand, who made his comeback to competitive blade shearing at the 2014 World Championships in Gorey, Ireland and has been undefeated in-competition since that event, is tipped as the most likely to end the Africans’ run of victories, being listed at $5.00.

Dobbs’ New Zealand team-mate Phil Oldfield, who claimed victory over the weekend in Reefton, has opened at $11.00 alongside Australian National Champion John Dalla.

Options close with the commencement of the world championships at 11am on Wednesday. Full odds are available at TAB outlets nationwide and at

The 40th anniversary championships will make history as the first instance the event has been hosted in New Zealand’s South Island and includes a record number of participating countries, making it the largest championship of all time.

Every minute of the 2017 world championships will be streamed live via the event website ( as well as via broadcast partner Maori Television (


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