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Shearing Sweep Stakes
The NZ TAB has opened up multi-bet options on shearing for the first time
with a series of head-to-head match-ups for the New Zealand open title which will be decided in Te Kuiti on April
Shearing bookmaker Kieran McAnulty said head-to-head betting had been particularly popular during the 50th Golden Shears in Masterton earlier this month, including the biggest single bet made in TAB shearing options history.
As a result it was decided to link five head-to-head options to give fans a multi-bet chance for the championships, which decide the last place in the New Zealand team for the 14th Golden Shears World Championships in Wales three months later.
Two particularly keen match-ups see veteran and Te Kuiti hero David Fagan favoured to beat new Golden Shears champion Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa, while two shearers vying to make it an all-Hawke's Bay attack on the World title will be in pitched battle not only on the board but also the ticket, with reigning New Zealand champion John Kirkpatrick the early favourite to beat longtime fellow-Napier rival Dion King.
The bets apply to the finishing placings of the shearers in each option, regardless of whether they reach the six-man final.
Before the head-to-head book was opened, Kirkpatrick, a World teams champion in 2008, predicted either he or King would be joining Ferguson on the trip to Wales.
The winner of six titles throughouth the country from October to January, Kirkpatrick was the more-favoured despite 10 consecutive shows without victory since last winning at Dannevirke on February 5, including six second placings. In the same time, King has scored three of his four wins this season.
Meanwhile, the TAB has Fagan as more than a sentimental favourite in its win-pool on the New Zealand open, which if he wins will offer the 48-year-old a chance to redeem himself on his favourite Welsh stage, where he was beaten by King Country shearing mate and former schoolmate Alan McDonald in 1994. Fagan opened at $2.50, Ferguson at $3.50 and Kirkpatrick, the opening-price favourite for the Golden Shears, has been let-out to $5. King and reigning World champion and Taranaki farmer Paul Avery were the only others paying under $10.
The TAB is operating two other options on the New Zealand Open, a top-three finish choice and an option on who will join Ferguson in the New Zealand team, effectively being the top placed open final placegetter apart from Ferguson.
This weekend, most of the top contenders continue the road to Te Kuiti with the Waitomo Caves Shears in the King Country, and the Taranaki Shears in Stratford.