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Young Farmers¹ veteran hopes for home-patch advantage

Experienced campaigner Paul McGill will be hoping for a strong home-town advantage as he competes in Masterton at the East Coast Regional Final of the Wrightson Agmardt Young Farmer Contest on March 22.

McGill has made it to the top four for the last three years and will have his sights firmly set on the top spot this year. Last year¹s first and second place-getters are not competing in 2003 leaving the first berth wide open.

McGill, however, is far from guaranteed a win, as he will face stiff competition from other finalists including contest veterans brothers Doug and Warren Chappell. Both from Wairarapa, Doug was a regional finalist in 2000 and 2001 and Warren a finalist last year.

Young Farmer Contest East Coast Regional Manager Shane Tilson is predicting the first of the seven regional finals will be a challenging and close-run event. ³With last year¹s winner, Kynan Thomsen, sitting this year out, the contest is wide open. It is very tough to call this one and we are expecting an exciting regional final.²

Previous regional final experience can be useful but it all comes down to the performance on the day and darkhorse Tom Clouston will be hoping this comes true. Clouston, who currently farms 620 ha, will be using his skills as a former rural banker combined with his farming abilities to seek the all-round performance needed to win the regional title.

Not to be overlooked are ex-Lincoln University student Paul Robottom and 25-year- old deer and beef farmer Grant Charteris. Rounding off the line-up are John Walsh and first-time finalist Jason Jamieson. They are expected to put in gritty performances to teach the ³old hands² a thing or two about competing in a regional final.

All will be revealed on March 22 as contestants go head to head. The practical day will be held at the Solway Showgrounds followed by the evening show at Rathkeale auditorium, Masterton.

The winner of the regional final will earn a place in the Grand Final in Hastings, July 3-5, competing for a prize package of $136,000.

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