Moving home is, according to many, one of life’s most stressful experiences. However, for the Royal Smithfield Clubthe relocation of its primestock competitions to last week’s Royal Smithfield Christmas Fair, Shepton Mallet, was a resounding success.
With more than 200 pairs of sheep forward and over 350 cattle entered there was no doubting the esteem in which exhibitors still hold the Royal Smithfield championships, awards many aspire to, but few manage to clinch.
And, with more than 15,000 visitors pouring through the event’s gates over the two days, there was also no doubting the allure it still holds for the farming public.
Leading the way in the sheep rings were the Hall family, Dalston, Carlisle. Having scooped top honours at last year’s Welsh Winter Fair, John Hall and daughter Joanne brought out a pair of Beltex-sired lambs to lift the red, white and blue rossette this time round.
Tipping the scales at 43kg each, this pair had previously picked up the Butchers Lambs live title and are sired by rams imported from Belgium as part of the Halls’ restocking programme following the loss of their flocks to foot-and-mouth in 2001.
Judge Robin Slade said the champions had everything he was looking for, with deep loins, plenty of gigot and solid, even flesh throughout.
And it was fitting that the reserve title in this the event’s first year at Shepton Mallet went to a first-time exhibitor. No stranger to the primestock show circuit, Sara Morris picked up the title with a pair of pure Beltex lambs.
Born in March and weighing 46.5kg, these ewe lambs are by the noted sire Loot, the ram which sired Ms Morris’ reserve champion lambs at this year’s National Primestock Show, Birmingham. They later sold for £500 a head.
Lifting the Sir Richard Cooper Trophy for the best pair of lambs sired by a native breed were a pair of Suffolk crosses from Malcolm Stewart. By homebred tup Sandyknowe Musclemaster and weighing 46kg each, these were out of Suffolk x Texel ewes. Reserve went to a pair of Black Welsh Mountains from Lyn Cockerill.
Among the cattle the first title awarded was the Suckled Calf championship on Thursday evening. Placed by noted pedigree and commercial breeder Christine Williams, it was Miss Fancy Pants, a Blonde D’Aquitaine-sired January-born heifer calf which lifted top honours.
Owned by Paul Tippets and Stuart Clatworthy, she weighed 391kg and was described by Miss Williams as the perfect calf, having style and class coupled with a well proportioned carcass with plenty of length. Reserve ticket went to the 349kg reserve heifer champion, X Factor from 14-year-old Tom Burnett. Also born in January, this one is by Limousin sire Glanmeheli Thumper.
In the main cattle competition, there was a switch in the championship line up from last month’s Countryside Live, Harrogate. This time it was the turn of a steer to take the glory, as The Deer Stalker, a Goldies Oswald son from Mark Hallam took the silverware. Bred by Peter and Joseph Blandford, Hereford, the steer is out of the 2000 Smithfield heavyweight heifer champion and full sister to the 2004 Smithfield lightweight heifer title-winning Top Notch.
A delighted Mr Hallam had to fight back the tears after being selected by judge Brian Glaves, saying he was completely overwhelmed.
With a desire to select a champion with the least amount of waste on the carcass, Mr Glaves said the steer had everything he was looking for – a good top line, rump, sirloin with a neat head and not too much weight in the forequarter.
Taking reserve honours was the heifer leader from Elfed Williams, Bambi. Bred by the Powell family, Knighton, Powys, and bought as a three-month-old calf, Bambi is another Glanmeheli Thumper daughter and went over the weighbridge at 542kg.
Born in June 2005, Bambi later sold for £4000 to Field Farm Fresh, Appleton. Bambi was brought out for Mr Williams by freelance stockman Neill Lloyd and his wife Sally.
Next year’s Royal Smithfield Christmas Fair will be held on 30 November and 1 December.
Merial supreme champion M Hallam’s Limousin cross steer The Deer Stalker; res, B E Williams’ Limousin cross heifer Bambi.
Supreme champion steer M Hallam’s Limousin cross The Deer Stalker; res, R J Reddaway and P J Holman’s Blonde D’Aquitaine cross Monty.
Supreme champion heifer B E Williams’ Limousin cross Bambi; res, D and M Cormack and D Small’s Charolais cross Miss Dynamite.
Lightweight heifer D and M Cormack and D Small’s Charolais cross Miss Dynamite; res, A R Grieve’s Charolais cross Paris.
Heavyweight heifer B E Williams’ Limousin cross Bambi; res, D Small’s Blonde D’Aquitaine cross Blondie.
Lightweight steer Harvey Cattle’s Galloway Read All About it; res, J and S Wareham’s Sussex cross Roco.
Intermediate weight steer M J Alford’s Charolais cross Scoty; res, B E Williams’ Limousin cross Jock the Cock.
Heavyweight steer M Hallam’s Limousin cross The Deer Stalker; res, R J Reddaway and P J Holman’s Blonde D’Aquitaine cross Monty.
Suckled calves Clatworthy and Tippets Blonde D’Aquitaine cross Miss Fancy Pants; res, T Burnett’s Limousin cross X Factor.
Best exhibitor-bred beast Harvey Cattle’s Galloway Steer Read All About It; res, J and S Wareham’s Sussex cross heifer Sassy.
Best native pure breed beast M Kirby’s Aberdeen Angus heifer Lockerley Kind Princess; res, A R Grieve’s Aberdeen Angus heifer Carlhurlie Emberiza.
Best continental pure breed beast F Jones and Son’s Limousin steer Llanfair Abromovich; res, V Maynard and M Smith’s Limousin heifer Columbpark April.
Champion pure breed beast M Kirby’s Aberdeen Angus heifer Lockerley Kind Princess; res, A R Greive’s Aberdeen Angus heifer Carlhurlie Emberiza.
Best group of three pure breed beasts Aberdeen Angus; res, South Devon.
Supreme champion R Hall and Son’s Beltex crosses; res, S Morris’ Beltex.
Butchers lambs alive R Hall and Son’s Beltex crosses; res, P J Houldley’s Beltex crosses.
Longwool J Coultrip’s Romneys; res, G W and D M Tucker’s Devon and Cornwall Longwools.
Shortwool S Morris’ Beltex; res, R Hall and Son’s Beltex.
Mountain L Cockerill’s Black Welsh Mountains; res, J A Reid’s South Country Cheviots.
Best native sired lambs M M Stewart’s Suffolk crosses; res, L Cockerill’s Black Welsh Mountain.
Best pen of lambs bred by exhibitor R Hall and Son’s Beltex crosses; S Morris’ Beltex.
Combined butchers live and dead P J Houldley’s Beltex crosses; res, P J Houldley’s Texels.
Best pen of pure breed lambs S Morris’ Beltex; res, Cockerill’s Black Welsh Mountains
Butchers lamb carcass R and G Colegrave’s Beltex cross; res, A Morton’s Beltex cross.
Beef ribs Lackham College’s Limousin; res, M Read’s Belgian Blue x Lincoln Red
Young Farmer of the show C Bishop; res L Rea.
Young Farmers cattle L Rea’s Limousin cross heifer Dilly; res, C Bishop’s Blonde’ D’Aquitaine cross heifer Ducky.
Young Farmers sheep C Bishop’s Beltex; res; J Whiteford’s Beltex crosses.
Champion: Mark Hallam took the heavyweight steer and overall Merial supreme championship title with The Deer Stalker, a purebred Limousin steer sired by Goldies Oswald and bred by the Blandford’s from Hereford.
Reserve champion: Having taken the championship title at last month’s Countryside Live event at Harrogate, Elfed Williams’ Limousin heifer Bambi settled for reserve overall ticket with Neil and Sally Lloyd preparing her for show on the day.
Exhibitor bred (Galloway) Harvey Cattle’s Galloway steer Read All About It took the King’s cup silverware home for the best exhibitor-bred animal with Sarah and Jason Wareham’s Sussex cross Belgian Blue heifer Sassy taking reserve.
|Sheep champ: Father and daughter partnership of John and Joanne Hall, Carlisle, took the supreme sheep title with their pair of Beltex cross lambs, weighing 43kg each|
|Reserve sheep: Reserve sheep title went Sara Morris and her pair of 46.5kg Beltex sired ewe lambs, which later sold for £500 a head|
Carcasses: R and G Colegrave’s Beltex cross carcasses took the Butchers Lamb carcass title.
|Beef ribs: Lackham College, Wiltshire took the Beef Ribs title with their Limousin cross steer carcass.|