TALES FROM THE FIELDS: Ulster ministry men battle to buy champion at show

Braehead Victorious, which was reserve to the Irish champion Friesian at the Royal Dublin Show in 1968. The owner was Mr Robert James Smith of Derrylee, Dungannon
Braehead Victorious, which was reserve to the Irish champion Friesian at the Royal Dublin Show in 1968. The owner was Mr Robert James Smith of Derrylee, Dungannon
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“A very good bull and probably one of the better ones of recent years. . .” was the judge’s description of the Hereford breed champion at the 1968 Royal Dublin Society bull show at Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Proving that he had confidence in his own decision the judge, Mr W A Spiers, chief livestock officer of Northern Ireland Ministry of Agriculture, was prepared to pay 2,600 guineas for the bull, Garbally Boxer, shown by Mr J Murray of Duleek, Co Meath.

But Mr Spiers opposite number in the Department of Agriculture, Mr Bill Carlos, showed that he had even more confidence in the choice and went on to pay the top price of the sale, 2,800 guineas for the champion.

The battle for ownership of the bull was one of the highlights of the sale and with bidding opening at 500 guineas, Mr Spiers and Mr Carlos, together with three other breeders, quickly pushed it along to 1,500 guineas.

From there on the two ministry men were on their own and, when Mr Spiers stuck at 2,600 guineas, and the hammer fell on a bid of 2,800 from Mr Carlos, there was loud applause.

“When I reached 2,600 guineas I had a feeling he was getting near his full value, and that while he was a really good bull we could possibly get a better one at Hereford,” said Mr Spiers.

“All the top bulls at the show and sale were very good. I would say the tops were a lot better than at Balmoral, and the champion was one of the better bulls of recent years.”

It was the intention to lease out the bull by Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture to some of the top breeders in southern Ireland.

Although Herefords dominated the show, and in turn the section was dominated by southern breeders, Northern Ireland exhibitors featured in all the other breed sections.