The TAB is forecasting a tight contest for the Golden Shears Open woolhandling title this week, with three competitors who have never won the title vying closely with reigning champion and six-times winner Joanne Kumeroa and at least three other former champions.
In odds released early this afternoon, the TAB has made Gisborne’s Joel Henare and Te Awamutu woolhandler Keryn Herbert equal favourites paying $3 to win, ahead of six-times winner, defending champion and Australia-based Joanne Kumeroa, of Wanganui.
Neither has won the title, Henare coming closest as runner-up the last four years in a row. He beat Kumeroa in the World Championships final in Masterton last year.
Disappointed to miss out on the World Championships team, three-times Golden Shears finalist Herbert topped last season’s national rankings.
This season, Henare has won five finals, and Herbert six, while Kumeroa is quoted a cautious third favourite at $3.50, her competitive career largely on hold as she fights-back against cancer. She is, however, also in a women’s invitation shearing event in Masterton.
Reigning New Zealand Open champion and 2008 World champion Sheree Alabaster, of Taihape, was fourth favourite, having contested just two Golden Shears Open finals in the past without victory and having won just two of eight finals she’s contested this season.
Other former champions Tina Rimene, of Masterton, Ronnie Goss, of Kimbolton, and Huia-Whyte Puna, of Christchurch, are among at least 10 seen as having chances of winning the 29th title since woolhandling competitions were added to the Golden Shears programme in 1985.
Dannevirke veteran Oti Mason, a finalist in 1987 and winner in 1996 and 2000 is this year a $40 longshot.
Woolhandlers are today (Wednesday) competing in the Pre-Shears Championshipsin a Wairarapa woolshed, before heading to Masterton where the 53rd Golden Shears, including four Golden Shears woolhandling classes, start tomorrow and end on Saturday night.
About 40 will contest the Open event, the heats of which are on Friday morning. Quarterfinals, semi-finals and the final are all on Saturday.
More than 20 titles in shearing, woolhandling and woolpressing will be decided during the three days, which also feature test matches between New Zealand and Australia in both shearing and woolhandling.