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Braddick scores breakthrough win

Ngaio Hanson was second in the Open wool handling final at Gisborne. PHOTO/FILE

SHEARING

Eketahuna’s Hemi Braddick shears his way to victory in the Gisborne Open Shears. PHOTO/SSNZ

Dreams of something big have started to open up for Eketahuna shearer Hemi Braddick who on Saturday won his first Open shearing title in eight years of trying.

Braddick’s breakthrough victory came in the Poverty Bay A and P Show’s Gisborne Shearing and Wool Handling Championships’ Open shearing final, and it could be a stepping stone for higher honours later in the season.

Two shearers, from the finals of the 2023 Golden Shears and New Zealand Shears Open finals, will win places in the Wools of New Zealand national team for the World Championships in Scotland next June.

The 31-year-old Braddick said making the team would be the dream of many of New Zealand’s top Open-class shearers.

Saturday’s victory was a good reward for Braddick, who has toiled season-in, season-out, occasionally making the top finals, but usually watching the major pickings going to a comparative few who’ve dominated over the years.

Just five shearers have won more than 60 per cent of the open titles in New Zealand since Braddick entered the fray at the top level.

Braddick reached Golden Shears and New Zealand Shears finals in the same season three times as an intermediate and senior shearer and was fourth in both the North Island Shearer of the Year and New Zealand Shears Open finals at Te Kuiti in 2021, but has no secret to finally claiming a winning ribbon in the open class.

“Just do what I can and keep trying,” said Braddick,

Just two of Saturday’s five finalists had previous open wins in New Zealand, and three former World and Golden Shears champions were eliminated along the way from a field of 21 entries. They included four-time Golden Shears Open champion John Kirkpatrick, who has won 212 finals worldwide, including 12 in Gisborne, and this time missed the cut by just 0.03 points.

Scottish international Gavin Mutch, who the previous Saturday won the New Zealand Spring Shears final at Waimate, was also eliminated in the semifinals, while 2010 World champion Cam Ferguson, of Central Hawke’s Bay, was eliminated in Saturday’s heats, as was Northland gun Toa Henderson, who won the Gisborne final when it was last shorn in 2020.

Braddick won Saturday’s final by just over a point from Te Kuiti shearer Jack Fagan, who is the winner of seven Open finals in New Zealand, plus a Royal Welsh Open title.

Third placegetter and 2010 Golden Shears Senior winner Tama Nia Nia, of Gisborne, has had just one Open win, fourth-placed Masterton shearer Matene Mason, who won the Golden Shears Senior title in 2011, and Gisborne shearer Ian Kirkpatrick, who was fifth, has also not won an Open final, despite the promise shown as an 18-year-old in 2009 when he won the Golden Shears and New Zealand Shears Senior finals and was ranked the country’s number one senior shearer with 10 wins in the 2008-2009 season.

Braddick’s sister Ngaio Hanson also came close to reaching the top of the podium, finishing runner-up in the Open wool handling final, which was at least her sixth second-placing in the top grade but she’s still without a win after about a decade of trying.

Along with husband Steve, Hanson runs the family shearing gang out of Eketahuna, near where Braddick has started farming a small block this year.

Unsurprisingly, her final was won by multiple World champion and local hero Joel Henare, scoring the 126th win of his career and third in four outings this season.

Masterton’s Adam Gordon continued his good form in Gisborne finishing fifth in the Senior Shearing final.

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