Champ still has Mutch to do to keep firm grip on title
The international machine shearing championship takes centre stage at Gorey, where the current champion Gavin Mutch is certain to face stiff opposition for his crown.
Mutch, a Scotsman, will have first-hand knowledge of the opposition he faces, not least from New Zealand, where he has been shearing on a semi-permanent basis for some time now.
Ask him, or any of the 100- plus shearers who will be in action at Gorey this week about their chances and they will all say it's down to "what happens on the day''.
The New Zealand machine shearing team of Johnnie Kirkpatrick and Rowland Smith – many people's favourites for team and individual titles – arrived in Ireland last week in a hopeful mood.
"I'm looking forward to Gorey especially now that the advance weather forecast is good, but winning all comes down to what happens on the day," Kirkpatrick told the Farming Independent.
Kirkpatrick, who spends 11 months of the year shearing in his native North Island and shears an average of 300 sheep every day, has competed in five world championships, but this is his first trip to Ireland.
Asked why he does it – he once sheared 507 sheep in a nine hour session – he simply replied: "I enjoy the job. I enjoy the physical nature of the job and I enjoy the outdoors. You are out in the fresh air all the time and you are dealing with nice people.''