While familiar names dominated the sheep, dairy and pig judging, history was made in the beef ring at Balmoral show, with a British Blue claiming the top prize. Katie Jones reports from Balmoral Park, Lisburn.
Taking the inter-breed beef title, a first for the breed, was five-year-old British Blue cow, Springhill Golden Girl, from father and son team, James and Sam Martin of Newtownards, Co Down.
The cow is a Gitan Du P’Tit Mayeur daughter out of Springhill Country Girl. She was shown with her four-month-old bull calf at foot. The calf was by a home-bred bull, Springhill Geronimo.
The victory for James Martin comes after around 30 years showing at Balmoral, which has seen him take 10 breed titles, but never the allusive champion of champions.
Father and son keep 20 British Blues, having been one of the pioneers of the breed, along with herds of Limousins, Shorthorns, and a Texel flock.
The cow will next travel to the Royal Highland.
The inter-breed judge, Arwel Owen from Powys, said his champion was a ’testament to the breed’. "This five-year-old cow calved naturally in January and is at her peak. She’s a demonstration of what the breed has achieved so far."
Runner-up was the commercial champion, J-Lo, a Limousin cross heifer from Gareth Corrae, Johnny Neal and Charles Bever, who make up JCB Commercials based at Newtownards, Co Down. It the first time out for this December 2014-born heifer, which was bought b for £1,100 at last year’s Hilltown Christmas show and sale.
She is by a pedigree Limousin sire and out of Limousin cross British Blue bull.
She will also head to next month’s Royal Highland show.
Third in the inter-breed was Charolais, Strangagone Jones, from Robert McWilliams of Co Londonderry. This January 2014-born bull was shown at Balmoral last year and picked up the reserve breed title.
This year their winner was Potterswalls Action Daisybelle, a fourth calver by Forest Glen Avery Action. She calved in October and was shown giving just under 40 litres, with projections showing she will again give close to the 9,000kg she gave in her third lactation. Daisybelle was a winner at the Royal Ulster Winter Fair in 2013 and 2014.
The Fleming family’s 120-strong herd has had great success at Balmoral show, having taken the inter-breed title seven times in total.
Reserve rosette went to the Holstein winner, Kilwarden Windbrook, from Brochan Cocoman of Naas, Co Kildare, who was showing at Balmoral for the first time. Classified EX90 as a heifer, this second calver was a class winner at the Royal Ulster Winter Fair after calving in November. She was shown giving 40 litres.
The sheep inter-breed winner was a Charolais home-bred shearling ram, Lornbrook Picture Perfect, from Diane Christie of Comber, Newtownards. The tup is sired by a former Bamoral and Royal Highland Show winner, Lornbrook Nutcracker. This was the second year running Mrs Christie has dominated the sheep inter-breed judging.
The tup was paired with a gimmer, also from Mrs Christie, to take the pairs title.
Reserve in the individual inter-breed was a two-shear Texel ram, Springwell Voltage, from James Aiken, Edna Corbett, and Martin Cromie of Dromara, Co Down. The ram was bought at Lanark two years ago and is by Overstown Usain Bolt.