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Wool was whipped off super quick in the Scottish National and Open Sheep Shearing heats, semis and finals on day four of the four-day Royal Highland Show extravaganza at Ingliston, Edinburgh.
Scotsman Simon Bedwell fired out 20 North Country Cheviot hoggs in 15 mins and 56 seconds (47.8s per sheep) in a bid to take out the Scottish National title, while later in the day, Hamish Mitchell, who now farms in Norway, went all out to take the time advantage in the Open class, peeling his score of Scotch Mule hoggs and pushing them down the porthole in 15 mins and 47 seconds, averaging 47.35 seconds each.
Eighteen Scotsmen took to the boards, on Sunday morning, hoping to lift the National Shearing trophy. Out of the line up Hamish Mitchell was the only previous winner, with his name already etched on the silverware an astounding 14 times – 1998 -2000, 2002 - 2008, 2010 and 2012-2014. With his World Champion team mate – Gavin Mutch – safely on the other side of the world and no previous overseas winners present, Hamish went all out to grab the silverware for a fifteenth time.
He topped the heats by over two points ahead of Grant Lundie, with Calum Shaw hot on his heels. Scott Wilson, Simon Bedwell and Andrew Baillie came in next. Texacloth shearing instructor, Alan Wright was seventh to qualify followed by John Little, Archie Paterson, Stewart Davidson, Alister Shaw and George Donald.
Simon Bedwell, who contract shears in Wester Ross, set the pace in the semi-finals, completing his pen of ten, 38 seconds faster than the pack, secured top spot into the final. Simon also scored the second cleanest pen of 9.300 just 0.200 points behind Calum Shaw (24) of Saline in Fife, who was next man to switch off his machine and claim second slot into the final. Mitchell came in third, with Donald, Lundie and Little making up the six-stand show down.
As previously mentioned Bedwell set the pace like a ‘Bat out o’ hell’ with Shaw and Mitchell catching and falling behind, but by the 14th ovine Bedwell was the clear leader. He cut his machine 27 seconds ahead of Mitchell and almost a minute in front of Shaw (57secs). The rest of the field seemed to be in a different time zone, with at least one or two sheep left in the pen when Shaw pulled his stop cord. Lundie took a further minute and 11 seconds to finish, Little was 40 seconds behind that and Donald trailed the field another 42seconds later.
When scorers Margaret Whiteford and Elaine did their magic on the computer – a new Scottish National Champion emerged. Twenty-four year old Calum Shaw, who farms in partnership with his father Willie and brother Alistair, pushed Mitchell, twenty years his senior, into second place. Quality counts and his finished job on the board and out the back was only surpassed on both accounts by John Little, who farms with his family at Callander, Perthshire. Little came in third place ahead of Simon Bedwell. Grant Lundie was fifth and Andrew Donald sixth.
The Open competition attracted 35 competitors from eight countries across the world. Englishman, Cumbrian, Adam Berry – who took out the South of Scotland title a couple of weeks ago, topped the heats. Mitchell qualified in second place, marginally ahead of Calum Shaw, who had the time points by a three second lead and one of the lowest board scores. Kiwi, Ethan Pankhurst, who was ranked top Senior shearer in New Zealand this year, was next man in followed by fellow New Zealander, Troy Pyper, one full point behind. The top 18 went through to the semi-finals. As a spectator, one surprise result was that Matt Smith failed to qualify. The rest of the semi-finalists were as follows; Lundie, Ivan Scott, Bedwell, Jack Fagan, Ian Montgomery, Alan Wright, Jacob Moore, Scott Wilson, Liam Jansen, Paul Smith, Alistair Shaw (23), Richard Robinson and Christophe Riffaud.(in order of qualifying) John Little was next man in.
Southern Irish shearer and Strong Wool World Record holder – Ivan Scott – who has shorn 744 lambs in an 8 hour day, showcased his prowess by completing his dozen in 10 minutes and 5 seconds, securing him the time points. Tidy work on the whole, on the board was unfortunately marred by a 5-point penalty out the back and a total score of 45.834. Without the cut and penalty points, Scott would have qualified for the final in fifth position.
Mitchell came top of the pops in the semis, beating Calum Shaw, Troy Pyper from Invercargill, New Zealand, Adam Berry, Simon Bedwell, and Ethan Pankhurst, scoring a stand in the final.
The next six, who missed out on the final competed for a new silver plate were; Jack Fagan, Grant Lundie, Scott Wilson, Ian Montgomery, Alistair Shaw and Alan Wright. Scott Wilson from Broughton, Biggar, who has just moved up from the Senior class following a successful season in New Zealand, where he was ranked fifth Senior Shearer on the competition circuit, took out the inaugural Open Plate.
Fired up from missing out on the National title, Hamish Mitchell, who is married in Norway with a family of three, blasted his first Scotch Mule hogg out in 35 seconds. He had the second out by the one minute 22 second mark and the fourth was shoved down the porthole when the clock struck three minutes.
Calum Shaw was in hot pursuit, with Simon Bedwell and Adam Berry in tow.
By sheep number eight, Mitchell had one round both of the Kiwis. Shaw was pulling his eighth out of the pen as Mitchell swept up the long blow. Berry and Bidwell dived in for their eighth together.
It was all change at number nine as Berry and Shaw flew into their pens neck in neck, with Mitchell still half a sheep ahead. They kept up the synchronised shearing through to number 11, by which time Bedwell had caught up. He charged in for his 12th when the duo were coming down the last side of number 11 and Hamish was doing likewise on 12.
Hamish changed his hand-piece before his 17th, but kept a healthy lead, finishing the 20 hoggs in 15 minutes and 47 seconds. Bedwell pumped his out some 19s later, with Berry 25s behind him and Shaw a further 8s later. Pyper and Pankhurst finished on 17 mins 4 secs and 17m 43s respectively and took up fifth and sixth places in the line up.
Hamish Mitchell took the Open Title for a sixth time having previously won it in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and again in 2011. He now equals Geordie Bayne, who has six wins under his shearing belt, but will have to win it another four times to match David Fagan!
Adam Berry took the blue sash for second, Bedwell the green for third and Shaw the yellow for fourth.
A full report for the other classes and wool handling and a photo gallery will be printed in the July issue of Farming Country magazine.