It is out of the sheds and on to the stage for shearers and wool handlers who are bracing themselves for the finals of the 52nd National Merino Championships in Alexandra today.
Committee spokesman Graeme Bell said yesterday entries were on a par with last year's record numbers.
"Competitors are building up to qualify for the New Zealand team to compete at the world shearing and wool handling championships in Ireland in 2014."
Competition kicked off at Molyneux Stadium yesterday with heats for junior, senior and open wool handling and the senior and open shearing.
Top qualifier for the senior wool handling, Destiny Pohatu, of Riversdale, missed her heat in the semi-finals and was put out of the running.
The senior wool handling finalist top qualifier was Kyle Whongi, of Hastings.
Whongi, normally a wool presser, competes in the finals today against Keisha Te Huki, of Dannevirke, Erana Smith, of Ruatoria, and Daine Rehe, of Te Teko.
Western Australian shearer Damien Boyle has won the NZ Open Merino Shearing title for the past three years and will be aiming for a fourth.
Southland shearer Nathan Stratford, 39, of Invercargill, who has been in 10 Merino Shears finals during the past 11 years and won the competition in 2006 and 2009, is considered the most likely New Zealand threat.
The winners go onto compete in Australia in October and at the Golden Shears in Masterton in March 2014.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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