f
l

TAB options open for World Championships

The importance of home advantage looks like it will be a major factor when the World Championship titles are handed out on Saturday in Invercargill, according to the TAB.

A long-time supporter of Shearing Sports New Zealand, the TAB has opened its book on the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships which begin on Wednesday at ILT Stadium Southland.

New Zealand Woolhandler Joel Henare is the shortest of favourites, opening at just $1.50 to win his second World Championship. The 25-year old Master Woolhandler is already a veteran, attending his third World Championship this week and showed he is peaking at the right time with a comprehensive win in the New Zealand Woolhandler of the Year final in Balclutha on Saturday, the eighth time he is won that prestigious title in the last 10 years.

Defending World Champion Hilary Bond of England has opened at $7.00, followed by Norway's Jonathon Haakull who placed third at the last World Championships in 2014 ($8.00) and Henare's New Zealand team mate Mary-Anne Baty ($9.00).

National champions Sophie Huf (Australia) and Southland-based Robyn Charlton (Wales) round out the top six at $13.00

The TAB suggests the Machine Shearing will be the hardest of the three individual titles to pick.

Experienced New Zealand team member Johnny Kirkpatrick of Napier opens as a narrow favourite at $4.50, ahead of team-mate Nathan Stratford ($5.00) who will line up for his first World Championship in front of his home crowd in Invercargill.

Kirkpatrick enters his fourth World Championship this week and while he has two World Teams titles to his name, the individual title has eluded him with second, third and fifth-placed finishes in his three appearances to date.

Stratford has been in hot form, winning three competitions in as many weeks in Southland across the three fleece-types he will face at World Champs – full-wool, second-shear and lambswool.

Taranaki-based Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who lifted the 2012 trophy when the event was last held in New Zealand, is also predicted to be right there when the title is handed out, opening as third-favourite at $6.00.

A six-strong group has opened at $13.00 including Irish World record-holder Ivan Scott, defending World teams title-holder Hamish Mitchell (Scotland), two-time World Champion Shannon Warnest (Australia), his Australian team-mate Jason Wingfield and the Northern Ireland duo of Ivan Montgomery and Jack Robinson.

The blade shearing is not surprisingly dominated by the southern African nations, who have claimed the last ten blade shearing world titles on offer, dating back to 1988.

Defending World Champion Mayenseke Shweni of South Africa has as a $3.75 favourite, followed by Lesotho's Zingizele Elliot Ntsombo and Bangani Joel (South Africa) at $5.00.

1988 World Champion Tony Dobbs of New Zealand, who made his comeback to competitive blade shearing at the 2014 World Championships in Gorey, Ireland and has been undefeated in-competition since that event, is tipped as the most likely to end the Africans' run of victories, being listed at $5.00.

Dobbs' New Zealand team-mate Phil Oldfield, who claimed victory over the weekend in Reefton, has opened at $11.00 alongside Australian National Champion John Dalla.

Options close with the commencement of the World Championships at 11:00am on Wednesday.

Full odds are available at TAB outlets nationwide and at www.tab.co.nz.