Wool Processing

Mullooly smashes two shearing records in one day

Doug Laing, Shearing Sports New Zealand, January 10, 2024

Catherine Mullooly in full flight on her way to a new world solo women’s eight hour strong wool ewe shearing record of 465 today. Image – SSNZ.

ONE of New Zealand’s most successful female competition shearers has smashed a world shearing record by almost 10 sheep an hour.

Shearing today at Nukuhakari Station, in the North Island’s coastal King Country in one of records-shearing’s most stunning displays, 34 year-old mum-of-two Catherine Mullooly set a new solo women’s eight-hour strong wool ewe record of 465.

She had a quality rating of 10.4, well within the threshold set by the World Sheep Shearing Records Society, and considered by most onlookers as “amazing” considering the struggle with “stroppy” sheep during the day.

Amy Silcock, left, with shearering adviocate Joanne Crawford in the Nukuhakari woolshed to see the breaking of a record Silcock held for just three days. Image – SSNZ.

On hand to see the effort was Wairarapa shearer Amy Silcock, who had held the record for just three days after shearing 386 near Pahiatua on Sunday.

Starting at 7am, Mullooly shore successive two-hour, above-record-pace runs of 116, 117 and 116 before passing the target about 3.40pm NZ time and the magic threshold of 400 soon afterwards, with still over an hour to go to the finish at 5pm.

Signing off with 116 in the last run, after one was rejected by the four-man WSSRS referees panel. Mullooly averaged over 58 sheep an hour throughout the day. This amounted to about 28 tonnes of sheep hauled onto the board, shorn and despatched through the porthole, clipping over 1.6 tonnes of wool. She also passed the women’s nine-hour record of 452 in the last quarter hour.

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan was unable to be present, but watching a livestream mid-afternoon said he was particularly proud of the quality that had been made, showing the benefits of a winning competition career. Mullooly in 2014 became the first women to attain a No 1 ranking in any grade since national sports organisation Shearing Sports New Zealand put a rankings system in place in 1992.

Sir David said Mullooly and  new lamb shearing records holders Megan Whitehead (686 lambs in eight hours) and Sacha Bond (720 lambs in nine hours) had taken women’s shearing “to a new level” and he looked forward to seeing them in women’s events and other competitions throughout the grades later in the season.

The sheep had been “challenging” but Mullooly was able to restore the control without lowering her standards, he said.

“It’s brilliant,” he said.

Former world champions and record holders Tom Wilson, left, and Alan MacDonald keeping a close eye on the record attempt. Image – SSNZ.

Referees panel convenor Andy Rankin, of Loch Lomond, Scotland, had seen Mullooly shear in Scotland some years ago and said she was then a good senior shearer he knew would succeed at the top “if she kept at it.”

“It was a good record,” he said, adding the good quality of the shear, and the organisation of the day, made it easier for the WSSRS officials.

Mullooly comes from Matawai, Gisborne, and has won competitions in the junior, intermediate and senior grades and was a quarter finalist in the New Zealand Merino Shears Open championship in Alexandra in September. She had a big team of supporters, including timekeepers and now fellow record breakers Coel L’Huillier and Daniel Langlands, another record-holder in Kaleb Foote monitoring the gear, and farmers Hamish Nelson and Bridget St, along with support from father Myles Mullooly and partner Audrey Tamanui-Nunn, and her own partner, Ardy Donnelly and sons Brynn, 3, and Coel, 1.

There was also a team of wool handlers and others helping with her physical wellbeing during the day.

The shearing sports focus now turns to the resumption of the competition season at Duvauchelle, Banks Peninsula, on Saturday, and a five-stand lamb shearing record in Southland on Sunday.

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