SCOTTISH shearers showed their mettle at the Scottish Blackface Sheep Shearing Championships, at Lochearnhead Shears, when two of them headed up the open final and won the annual test match against New Zealand.

Acting as a final warm-up before competitors head to France for the World Championships this week (July 1-7), the event welcomed some of the best shearers in the world, including many previous winners and members of winning teams at both the Worlds and famous Golden Shears championships.

From a bumper entry of 30 shearers in the open section hoping to make it to the elusive four-man final, it was down to the two Scots and fellow teammates who were heading to France, Calum Shaw and Gavin Mutch, to set the pace on 20 Blackie hoggs.

With the final including four shearers you wouldn’t be surprised to see making it through to the latter stages at the Worlds – including New Zealander Rowland Smith and Englishman Adam Berry – it was Huntly-born but New Zealand-based Gavin Mutch who went off like the clappers in the hope of adding to his open and Scottish National wins at the Royal Highland Show the previous week.

With Gav’s first hogg clipped and sent down the chute in under 30 seconds he quickly edged ahead of the rest of the pack but Calum soon caught up and they were in neck and neck by number five. A sticky fifth hogg held Calum back but the two Scots, both previous winners and representing Scotland in France, streaked ahead with Gav pulling the cord after his last hogg on 13 minutes 24 seconds and Calum close behind on 14 minutes 10 as their fellow finalists stepped in for their last few hoggs.

It’s not all down to time, though, as a tidy job sets a better score and with the lowest board mark for double-cutting of 31 added to a pen mark of 161 it was the 2017 winner, Fife’s Calum Shaw, who claimed the red sash with a total score of 52.100.

Gav, a winner of both the individual and team World titles as well as the prestigious Golden Shears, secured second with 52.400 having notched up 43 on the board and 201 in the pen.

New Zealand teammate and multiple Golden Shears winner, Rowland Smith, was third on 55.850 having scored 44 on the board and 161 in the pen in 15 minutes 12 seconds. England’s top shearer, Adam Berry, was fourth having picked up 42 on the board and 146 in the pen in 15 minutes 49s. Adam also claimed the Colin McGregor Salver for the lowest pen score in any final.

The pace was again fast and furious in the Scotland versus New Zealand test where it was the Scots who once again ruled to claim the Joe Te Kapa Memorial Trophy, when Gavin and Calum made the best job of their 20 hoggs apiece to score 53.100 and 55.500, totalling 108.600, compared to Rowland Smith and Cam Ferguson’s 55.550, 59.000 and 114.550 total.

From the top four open competitors who did not make it to the semi-finals and have never previously qualified for the open final at Lochearnhead, it was Archie Paterson who won the open plate thanks to his lowest board mark of 15 and second best pen mark of 93, giving him a total score of 35.200 having clipped his 10 hoggs in eight minutes and eight seconds.

Second was Andrew Baillie, who finished in the fastest time of eight minutes and four seconds and a total of 37.400, having picked up 26 on the board and 106 in the pen, while Lee Moltenburg, from the Falkland Islands, was third with 37.500 thanks to the lowest pen mark of 86. Northern Ireland’s Stephen Morgan was fourth with a total score of 39.650.

With two Scots and two New Zealanders making it through to the blade final, the top two spots went to the Kiwi father and son duo, Phil and Alan Oldfield, with Alan once again trumping his father to win a third Locheanhead title. Alan edged the lead with 67.350 having clipped his four hoggs in the fastest time of 11 minutes 27 seconds which he added to a board mark of 19 and 113 in the pen, despite Phil securing the lowest board and pen marks of 13 and 105 to finish on 69.800.

Just 0.300 points split Scottish teammates, Willie Craig and Mark Armstrong, with Willie taking third place on 72.550 and Mark fourth with 72.850.

The lowest senior pen mark of 50 and fastest time of 9 minutes 2 seconds for 10 hoggs helped Kiwi shearer, David Gordon, win the senior final with a total score of 35.000, a good result considering he hasn’t clipped at Lochearnhead for seven years. With the best mark of 16 on the board, Adam Wood was second with 38.550, while Stephen Morgan was third with 39.550 and Emily Te Kapa took fourth with 43.350.

It was a good outing for Katie Reid when she not only won the five-hogg intermediate final, but also the prize for best local as well as the ‘man in the middle’ prize for securing the middle spot in the senior heats. Despite being the last to finish in the intermediate final, she had the lowest board and pen marks of 8 and 47 to finish with a score of 34.450.

Adam Wood secured another blue sash for second with a score of 35.300 followed by Kevin Daniel with 36.700 and Kevin Sutherland with 40.550.

Having only clipped his first Blackie the previous night, it was a surprised Craig Naylor who won the junior final with a score of 34.100. The Cumbrian placed ahead of Alex Butler with 35.950, while Murray Craig was third with 36.250.

The young Scots put on a stellar show in the Scotland versus England junior development test when Billy Gray and Murray Craig claimed victory with a combined score of 71.150, having both picked up the lowest board and pen marks. This compared to England’s Richard Lancaster and Craig Naylor whose combined score totalled 116.150. The two teams will next compete in the return test at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Rosie Keenan added another Lochearnhead woolhandling title to her win of last year, when she led the pack to secure the lowest board mark of 10 and the lead score with 54.000. With the lowest table mark of 32, Nikki Gore was second with 54.400, ahead of Stacey Mundell in third with 62.800 and Sheree Alabaster in fourth on 73.400.

Among the novice woolhandlers, Nisha Gordon’s fast time edged the lead with 53.400 while Johanne Mitchell picked up the best board and table marks to finish in second with 55.200.

LEADING awards:

Open (20 hoggs) – 1, Calum Shaw (31 board mark, 161 pen mark, 14 minutes 10 seconds, 52.100 total score); 2, Gavin Mutch (43, 201, 13.24, 52.400); 3, Rowland Smith (44, 161, 15.12, 55.850); 4, Adam Berry (42, 146, 15.49, 46.850).

Scotland vs New Zealand test (20) – 1, Scotland’s Gavin Mutch (25, 213, 13.44, 53.100) and Calum Shaw (29, 176, 15.05, 55.500), 108.600 total; 2, New Zealand’s Rowland Smith (40, 181, 14.50, 55.550) and Cam Ferguson (49, 228, 15.03, 59.000), 114.550 total.

Open plate (10) – 1, Archie Paterson (15, 93, 8.08, 35.200); 2, Andrew Baillie (26, 106, 8.04, 37.400); Lee Moltenburg (30, 86, 8.38, 37.500); 4, Stephen Morgan (28, 103, 8.51, 39.650).

Blade (four) – 1, Alan Oldfield (19, 113, 11.27, 67.350); 2, Phil Oldfield (13, 105, 13.26, 69.800); 3, Willie Craig (19, 84, 15.36, 72.550); 4, Mark Armstrong (14, 81, 16.22, 72.850).

Senior (10) – 1, David Gordon (29, 50, 9.02, 35.000); 2, Adam Wood (16, 74, 9.51, 38.550); 3, Stephen Morgan (20, 76, 9.59, 39.550); 4, Emily Te Kapa (26, 63, 11.29, 43.350).

Intermediate (five) – 1, Katie Reid (8, 47, 6.54, 34.450); 2, Adam Wood (14, 55, 6.01, 35.300); 3, Kevin Daniel (20, 51, 6.19, 36.700); 4, Kevin Sutherland (20, 60, 6.51, 40.550).

Junior (four) – 1, Craig Naylor (15, 41, 6.42, 34.100); 2, Alex Butler (11, 55, 6.29, 35.950); 3, Murray Craig (9, 36, 8.20, 36.250); 4, Billy Gray (15, 30, 9.29, 39.700).

Scotland vs England junior development test (four) – 1, Scotland’s Billy Gray (9, 31, 7.43, 33.150) and Murray Craig (13, 36, 8.35, 38.000), 71.150 total; 2, England’s Richard Lancaster (42, 81, 7.27, 53.100) and Craig Naylor (41, 104, 8.56, 63.050), 116.150 total.

Open woolhandling – 1, Rosie Keenan (10 board mark, 36 table mark, 1 minute 10 seconds, 54.000 total score); 2, Nikki Gore (14, 32, 1.12, 54.400); 3, Stacey Mundell (20, 34, 1.14, 62.800); 4, Sheree Alabaster (25, 41, 1.07, 73.400).

Novice woolhandling – 1, Nisha Gordon (14, 30, 1.17, 53.400); 2, Johanne Mitchell (5, 26, 2.31, 55.200).