A STAGGERING 180 shearers and wool handlers from across the globe descended on the banks of Loch Earn for what was arguably the longest day of competition this season.

A 6.30am start saw the blade shearers kick the day off with the open final and prize presentation barely completed by midnight. Onlookers embraced the longer than usual proceedings throughout the evening with the multinational finalists creating an electric atmosphere.

Junior winner ewan robb junior winner and Donald Mackenzie plate winnerJunior winner ewan robb junior winner and Donald Mackenzie plate winner

Only five months ago, the fate of Lochearnhead Shears hung in the balance, with pleas from a dwindling and depleted committee answered in the name of Adam Wood of Callander, a Blackie farmer and seasonal shearer who took on the mantle of chair.

However, the Shears, which originally started in 1993 at the bottom of a garden, has been transformed to the globally-renowned shearing competition it is today. Shearers, wool handlers and spectators were out in numbers to reinforce Lochearnhead Shears is here to stay.

Open wool handling winners pictured from left winner Katie O’Sullivan; second placed Beca Jackson; Sarah Bateman in third and Emily Te Kapa in fourthOpen wool handling winners pictured from left winner Katie O’Sullivan; second placed Beca Jackson; Sarah Bateman in third and Emily Te Kapa in fourth

New Zealander David Buick produced an incredible win in the open final. An accident on his farm in 2021 left doctors believing he may never walk again never mind shear. However, he has made a remarkable recovery. David and local legend Hamish Mitchell locked in to a speed battle early in the 20 sheep final but it was only the Wairarapa shearer who finished the feisty Blackies in under 15 minutes.

Local shearer Hamish Mitchell had the best quality in both board and pen, coming in second. Kiwi Jack Fagan, no stranger to the Blackface championships after finishing second here last year, had to settle for third. The 2019 World champion Richard Jones from Wales fell behind with 1.5 sheep left in the pen after his comrades had finished, leaving him to take fourth.

Novice wool handlers pictured from left, first placed Amy McNeil; Beth Logan in second; Christina Macdonald third and Grace Duffy was fourthNovice wool handlers pictured from left, first placed Amy McNeil; Beth Logan in second; Christina Macdonald third and Grace Duffy was fourth

Scotland’s National and Royal Highland Show, winner Calum Shaw, got bogged down with a tough pen of sheep in the semi-finals, missing out on the final by 0.7 points. Calum made up for his disappointment in the Joe Te Kapa Scotland vs New Zealand test match together with teammate Hamish Mitchell together dominating the 15 sheep test. Calum with best quality and Hamish the fastest of the four-man line-up won with a comfortable margin of 8.6 points over Kiwi team open finalists David Buick and Jack Fagan.

Scottish dominance in both wool handling finals saw novice handler Amy McNeil grab the red ribbon ahead of 11 others. Amy is having a phenomenal season with wins at Staffordshire County Show and a second at the Royal Highland Show finishing two points clear to win at Lochearnhead. Beth Logan settled for second; Christina Macdonald came third; and kiwi Grace Duffy was fourth.

Scottish wool handling development team member Katie O’Sullivan claimed her first big win in the open class ahead of several world team representatives in the 13-strong field. Welsh girl Beca Jackson, the Royal Highland Show winner, finished 26 seconds behind Katie and took second. Campbeltown’s Sarah Bateman was third with local Emily Te Kapa in fourth.

Open winner David Buick in actionOpen winner David Buick in action (Image: Katie Stevenson)

Polish shearer Marcin Zgodzinski was crowned best among the senior shearing winners finishing 10 sheep in less than 10 minutes with quality shearer Emily Te Kapa two points behind in second, and northern shearer Kevin Sutherland in third. Danielle Mauger of Australia, the cleanest shearer in the line, up was two minutes slower and took fourth.

Another multinational final for intermediate honours saw Welsh shearer Owen Martin Jones claim the top spot seven points ahead of Ben Wight from Midlock in second. Martin was 25 points cleaner in the pen results, and a worthy winner. Scottish circuit favourite Duncan Adams could only manage third while Welsh shearer Elgan Llystyn was fourth.

Ewan Robb won the junior competition by 0.2points ahead of Lanarkshire’s Cameron Armstrong. Ewan was also awarded the Donald Mackenzie Plate for most promising young shearer. Donald, a stalwart of the Shears, loved to see the young shearers getting started in the industry. Cai Jones was third and Cally Simpson of Blairgowrie was a little behind and came in fourth.

Open plate winner was Ross GibsonOpen plate winner was Ross Gibson (Image: Katie Stevenson)

Another Welsh victory in the hand shears event saw Elfed Jackson win by a comfortable 13 points ahead of the opposition, best pen, board and time with 58.550. Next best was Scotland representative Willie Craig in second, teammate Jimmy Wright in third and local lad Sam Jacobs fourth.

Five novice hand shearers took to the stage with Scotland’s Allan MacKenzie a clear winner and nine points ahead of the other finalists. Welsh Bwn Jackson – wife to the open winner Elfed – had the best quality with only six on the board and 32 in the pens to gain second place ahead of Tomas Palmer and Northern Ireland’s Steven Wilson.

Leading Awards

Open machine – 1, David Buick 20 board, 255 pen, 14m26s time , 57.050 total; 2, Hamish Mitchell 16, 233, 15m15s, 58.200; 3, Jack Fagan 23, 239, 15m03s, 58.250; 4, Richard Jones 19, 236, 16m45s, 63.000.

Senior machine – 1, Marcin Zgodzinski 14, 111, 9m43s, 41.650; 2, Emily Te Kapa 17, 110, 10m07s, 43.050; 3, Kevin Sutherland 19, 123, 10m10s, 44.70; 4, Danielle Mauger 13, 105, 12m20s, 48.800.

Intermediate machine – 1, Owen Martin Jones 9, 29, 6m26s, 26.900; 2, Ben Wight 8, 54, 7m10s, 33.900; 3, Duncan Adams 6, 62, 6m46s, 33.900; 4, Elgan Llystyn 10, 87, 6m12s, 38.000.

Junior machine – 1, Ewan Robb 8, 45, 5m10s, 28.750; 2, Cameron Armstrong, 15, 40, 5m03s, 28.900; 3, Cai Jones, 15, 42, 5m59s, 31.200; 4, Cally Simpson, 10, 41, 6m19s, 31.70.

Open wool handling – 1, Katie O’Sullivan 10, 33, 0m57s, 48.700; 2, Beca Jackson, 7, 33, 1m23s, 50.600; 3, Sarah Bateman 18, 34, 1m8s, 59.600; 4, Emily Te Kapa, 23, 34, 1m8s, 64.600.

Novice wool handling – 1, Amy McNeil 7, 21, 0m57s, 33.700; 2, Beth Logan 6, 26, 0m55s, 37.500; 3, Christina MacDonald 5, 31, 1m20s, 46.000; 4, Grace Duffy 8, 44, 1m4s, 58.800.

Hand shearing – 1, Elfed Jackson 11, 85, 11m31s, 58.550; 2, Willie Craig 25, 98, 13m42s, 71.850; 3, Jimmy Wright 12, 107, 14m12s, 72.350; 4, Sam Jacobs 33, 138, 17m15s, 94.500.

Novice hand shearing – 1, Allan MacKenzie 9, 50, 8m17s, 54.350; 2, Bwn Jackson 6, 32, 15m27s, 65.350; 3, Tomas Palmer 17, 68, 9.19, 70.450; 4, Steven Wilson 12, 70, 10m18s, 71.900.

Open plate – 1, Ross Gibson 12, 104, 7m55s, 35.350; 2, Stewart Kennedy 23, 105, 9m32s, 41.400; 3, Andrew Baillie 30, 119, 9m15s, 42.650; 4, Alistair Shaw 37, 153, 11m11s, 52.550.

Joe Te Kapa Scotland v New Zealand – 1, Calum Shaw 10, 123, 11m15s, 42.617 and Hamish Mitchell 20, 140, 10m59s, 43.616; 2, Jack Fagan 32, 140, 11m12s, 45.066 and David Buick 35, 167, 11m15s, 49.816. Scotland 2, 17.533, 66.70, 86.233; New Zealand 4.4, 20.466, 69.950, 94.882.