SCOTTISH-BORN New Zealeand farmer and shearer Gavin Mutch has had a successful trans-Atlantic break from a bid to retain his place in Scotland’s World Championships team by winning one of North America’s major titles.
His win last weekend at the annual North American Sheep Shearing Challenge at the Calgary Stampede in Canada was the first by a UK shearer in the 22 years of the event.
It meant he had won major events in three different countries within 15 days, and a total of 10 throughout his career since he entered the tough open grade after being the top-ranked senior shearer in New Zealand in 2001-2002.
Mutch won the Scottish Blackface championships at Lochearnhead in Scotland on July 30 and the Herdwick Lakeland Shears seven days later at Cockermouth in the North of England, and is planning to heads to Wales for open competitions at the Cothi, Lampeter and Royal Welsh Show shears.
The fields at the three events over the next six days will include the CP Wool New Zealand team of Nathan Stratford and David Buick, who also face test matches against Wales at each show, and the completion of a four-test series at the Corwen Shears on July 28.
Mutch, 39, was the winner of the world individual title in Masterton in 2012, a teams title in Ireland two years later and the Golden Shears Open title in Masterton in 2015. He will bypass Corwen to compete at the Antrim Show in Northern Ireland and the Black Isle Show in Scotland, the last two shows in the Scottish circuit which he must win if he is to represent his native Scotland at a seventh consecutive world championship in France next year.
In between he will return to New Zealand where he and his wife farm to Whangamomona near Taranaki, on New Zealand’s North Island.
In the Calgary final over six sheep each, Mutch beat runner-up Timothy Wright, from Michigan, US, by more than 9 points. Regular Australian visitor and 2015 and 2016 winner Mike Pora, of Cowra, NSW, was third; fellow Australian James Russell, fourth; 2010 and 2013 winner Hilary Gietzen, from North Dakota, was fifth and sixth was Canadian Pauline Bolay, who competed in New Zealand frequently while working for Sam and Emily Welch, of Waikaretu.
New Zealand shearers who have won the Calgary title include David Fagan (2001), Paul Avery (twice), Dion King (2006) and Hamish Bradley (2011). Other shearers who have won the final include Australian shearer Steve Mudford, US shearer Tony Troendle and Canadians Don Metherall (four times) and brother Cliff Metherall.
Calgary Stampede North American Shearing Challenge final results(6 sheep): Gavin Mutch (Scotland) 6min, 30.83pts, 1; Timothy Wright (Canada) 7min 11sec, 39.88pts, 2.