Dancing Queen waltzes off with championship

ABBA MAY never have played Earl”s Court, but there was no stopping the Dancing Queen in the cattle championship at this year”s Royal Smithfield Show.

The winner, a 13-month-old Charolais cross heifer of that name, from show regulars Ayrshire-based Hugh and Lynne Dunlop, waltzed her way to the top spot. She had earlier secured the heavyweight heifer championship and the overall heifer championship.

She weighed in at 606kg and later sold for a show record of 16,000 (26.40/kg) to Devon-based Michael and Melanie Alford. Dancing Queen earned the Dunlops back-to-back Smithfield championships and a total of three red, white and green tickets, narrowly edging out two-time winner Harry Emslie”s Limousin cross steer.

Having spotted the potential of the heifer as a day-old calf, Hugh Dunlop said this was the best beast he”d ever bred, better even than his two previous Smithfield winners, I”m Yer Man and Lip Gloss. Dancing Queen is by noted primestock sire Allanfauld Vagabond and out of a Charolais cross cow.

Harry Emslie”s reserve, the Limousin-sired Rooney, was bought as a store bullock from Hexham market in July, costing just 900. By Fieldson Ronaldo and out of a Limousin cross dam, this beast pushed Dancing Queen all the way for top spot, weighing in at 618kg and leading in the heavy steer category. Rooney later sold for 2500 (4.04/kg).

Standing reserve in the heifer classes and confirming the dominance in the showring of the ladies was Liz Vance leading out Eye Candy, a Limousin cross bred by Thirlwall Castle, Carlisle. Eye Candy had previously stood champion at the International Limousin Congress in Edinburgh this year.

Second spot in the steer classes was taken by the champion Young Farmers beast of the show from Ian Anderson. Limousin-sired Tic Tac tipped the scales at 590kg and was bred by Northern Irish producer Dermot Small.

Hugh and Lynne Dunlop also had a hand in the suckled calf championship, where a Limousin sired steer bred by them was to the fore. The steer, The Real Macoy, brought out by Cullompton, Devon-based Charlotte Alford, stood champion, with another Limousin cross, Super Furry Animal, taking reserve honours for Messrs Morgan and Edwards.

Continentals also reigned supreme in the sheep lines, with both champion and reserve champion lambs coming from the Beltex class. Leading the way were Richard and Granville Colegrave with their pair of pure Beltex lambs bred by Ayr-based John Cowan. These lambs weighed in at 47.15kg apiece and were described by judge Andrew Atkinson as an exceptionally well matched pair.

Unfortunately, native lambs failed even to make Mr Atkinson”s short list for the championship judging, because, in the judge”s words: “They lacked the quality of the Continental-sired animals.”

Reserve spot and champion homebred title in the sheep classes went to Andrew and Becky Bishop with their second-prize pen of Beltex lambs which had followed the Colegraves” pair throughout the judging stages.

This pair clocked 48.5kg on the scales and are sired by a tup from Mr Bishop”s father David”s Lugshill pedigree Beltex flock. The champions sold for 1000 a head, while the reserves made 380 each. The Bishops also enjoyed success in the live/dead classes, taking top spot in the combined live/dead class and the champion carcass in the purebred live/dead competition.

This carcas later sold for £300 to the Bishops’ local butcher Tim Newman of Colwqll, Worc. The sale proceed were donated to the Countryside Allicance to support its campaign to overturn the ban on hunting with dogs.

One od the highlights of the sheep classes was the Scottish Blackface entry, with 14 contestants fighting it out in two purebred pairs classes. Winners in both classes were Andy Hamilton and son Hugh from Thornhill, Dumfries. The Hamiltons’ lightweight pair, by a homebred tup, later stood champion in the Mountain section ahead of the North Country Cheviots from Douganhill Farm.

In the National Festival of Meat Beef Ribs competition it was win for Messrs Needham and Son with their Belgian Blue x Lincoln Red heifer ribs. Reserve spot went to the first prize steer ribs, from a Limousin steer entered by this year’s live heifer judge Mike Alford from Cullompton, Devon.

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