Borders farmers and other producers from the region picked up top prizes in last week’s Royal Highland Show at Ingliston, Edinburgh.
Organisers of Scotland’s biggest agricultural show saw attendance figures rise on last year’s event, with 170,556 visiting the four-day event this year compared to 161,242 in 2012. Nearly 5,000 animals, including sheep, cattle, poultry and horses competed.
Chairman of show organisers, The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), Kelso farmer Allan Murray of Redden said: “It is clear that, following two weeks of sunny weather, farmers were in a optimistic frame of mind and ready to do business. All in all, it has been a very successful show.”
The show’s beef interbreed pairs judge, John Elliot, Roxburgh Mains, Kelso agreed: “There’s been a bit more of a feel-good factor at the Highland. The sun was shining on Thursday and people were a bit cheerier, but bank balances have been hit hard and that doesn’t go away. And if we have a year like last year, nobody is going to clap their hands. “
Former Yarrow Valley farmer, Jim Hume MSP was also at the show. His sons Duncan and Callum won the Cheviot shearling class this year replicating last year’s success, the first year they had shown at the Highland. This year’s shearling went on to take the reserve male ticket too.
Jim said: “Lamb numbers will be down come this autumn and sales will be down. Some hill farms will struggle to keep their own stock from the lambs they have kept. There is still a long way to go.”
Remaining in the Yarrow Valley, Jimmy and George Irving of Mountbenger won the Cheviots championship with a two-shear tup.
Other winners included Ian Walling, Over Whitlaw, Selkirk who took the Lleyn championship with a two-year-old tup, Balliney Antics, which he bought at Carlisle for £3,500 last year.
He said: “He’s got an excellent crop of lambs, he’s the best tup we have ever had. We had another good tup in 2006 which won the championship here as well: he’s just as good if not better.”
Over in the cattle lines, his brother Tom won reserve champion in the Belted Galloways with the two-year-old bull Southfield Major Ronaldo.
Roderick ‘Rocket’ Runciman of Allanshaws, Galashiels, won the North Country Cheviot championship with a home-bred two crop ewe sired by Synton Bullseye, last year’s breed champion, on her first time out.
When asked what he liked about the ewe, Mr Runciman joked: “The judge picked her first, that’s what I like about her... She’s a very correct ewe with beautiful sweet hair.”
He also won the breed reserve male and female championships. Returning to the Yarrow Valley, Sam McClymont of Tinnis, Yarrow, won the Blackface male championship, while in the North Country Cheviots Hill Sheep, Yetholm farmer Michael Elliot of Woodside won the reserve male ticket.
James Brown and others of Eildon Cottage, Mindrum Mill, near Cornhill, took the reserve female championship in the Border Leicesters. And Charles Scott of Viewfields, East Middle, Hawick, won the reserve male champion’s ticket in the Zwartbles.
Among the Aberdeen Angus, Gordon Brooke, Upper Huntlywood Farm, Earlston won the reserve championship with the three-year-old cow, Linton Gilbertines Black Bess, and Whittaker and Co Farms’ two-year-old Haughton Laura took the reserve female ticket for producer Fraser Cormack of Stickle Heaton Farm, Cornhill.
Hereford breeders Ron and Robert Wilson of Cowbog, Morebattle, Kelso, won the breed’s reserve champion’s ticket with their five-year-old cow Romany 1 Plum. They also won the best junior bull and reserve male champion with Romany 1 Jackel.
Hawick’s Roy and Adam Crockett of Conker Cottage, Deanfoot, won the Salers championship with the bull champion, two-year-old Gulliver, while Rob and Kath Livesey, Firth Farm, Nether Firth, Lilliesleaf, took the reserve female champion’s rosette with Cleuchhead Mhairi 10th.
From Berwick, Brian Redhead and Jonathan Watson of Bowsden Moor, Bowsden, had the reserve male champion among the British Blues with their two-year-old bull Tweeddale Guinness.
Chain Bridge Honey Farm won the Thomas Henry Fairley Perpetual Trophy after gaining most points in the extracted honey/comb honey/beeswax/mead and cocktail classes.
The reserve overall hunter was the six-year-old bay gelding, Tredragon, owned by Andrew and Gilly McCowan of Horncliffe Mains, Berwick-upon-Tweed .
The Eriskay Champion was the seven-year-old mare, Gretel, belonging to Mrs Gillian Clark of Kerchesters, Kelso, while the Connemara in hand champion rosette went to the five-year-old grey mare, Eastlands Rashiebrae, owned by Dianna Staveley of the Eastlands Stud, Davington, Eskdalemuir. The mare went on to take reserve champion in the ‘Cuddy’, the Horse of the Year Show Cuddy Supreme In-Hand Championship qualifier.
Peeblesshire exhibitors D and P Fontana of Honeysuckle Cottage, Kailzie, had a good show in the poultry section, winning the best exhibition trio and the best utility prizes, while Dorothy Thomson of Kingsmuir Drive, Peebles won the best extra fine fleece class.