Shearing icon David Fagan jets-off to the United States today, aiming to return within a week to extend a winning sequence in which he scored two more victories on a visit to Tauranga at the weekend.
Fagan, 52, will be taking part in promotion work for Elder’s Primary Wool’s Just Shorn brand in Phoenix, Arizona, but plans to be back to compete at the Rotorua A and P Show at Ngongotaha next Sunday.
His latest wins were in the Tauranga A and P Show’s Open final at the Gate Pa racecourse on Saturday afternoon and a few hours later at the Te Puna Tavern’s annual speedshear.
A week earlier he notched a similar double in a 21-hour round trip from his home near Te Kuiti in the Central North Island to Duvauchelle on Bank’s Peninsula, east of Christchurch.
Fagan made almost no race of it at the show on Saturday, his 624th Open-class win in 32 years at the top, blazing through 15 lambs in 11min 31.2sec. It was almost a minute quicker than defending champion and contemporary Digger Balme, who was second to finish. Fagan also had easily the best quality points and in the final count beat Balme by more than four-and-a-half points in a Te Kuiti trifecta, with Mark Grainer third.
Fourth place went to Waikaretu shearer Sam Welch, who last month took part in a five-man eight-hour lambshearing tally record.
On Saturday night, Fagan beat Balme in the final of the Speedshear, peeling a crutched and bellied lamb in the night’s best time of 18.7 seconds.
Welsh champion Gareth Daniel was third, but had scored an important victory at the show earlier in the day as he and Richard Jones beat an invitation team of Grainger and Fagan’s son, Jack, in the first match of the Wales team’s seven-event, four-test Elders Primary Wool Shearing Series, preceding the World Championships in Ireland in May.
The Fagan prodigy pipped Daniel for fastest time over 10 lambs each but the Welsh produced easily the better quality and won by a comfortable 6.5pts, a morale-boosting victory over two Open-class up-and-comers ahead of the first test against Hastings shearer Rowland Smith and South Island gun Tony Coster in Rotorua.
It showed the benefit of several weeks working in King Country, particularly for Jones, who arrived in New Zealand in November. Daniel had arrived only on January 3.
There was a Fagan link with another overseas triumph at the show, the Intermediate final win by Australian Tom Lewis, working for contractor Neil Fagan in Te Kuiti. Lewis, 19, from Bathhurst and in his first competition in New Zealand, was the last to finish a tight 5 –lamb race but eith superior quality won by a wide margin and said he would self-graduate to Senior class for his next competition.
Saturday’s Senior final was won by Masterton-based Southland shearer Casey Bailey, and George Smith, of Waikaretu, had his first win in the Junior final, by a wide margin from runner-up, prolific finalist and schoolboy Josh Balme.