Judge Arthur O’Keeffe, from Co. Cork, was impressed with the stock presented to him at the opening day of Balmoral and certainly had difficult decisions to make in each of the Suffolk classes.
His first major decision was to hand the first place rosette to Burnview flock owners Stephanie and William Tait after their Burnview Hitman ram triumphed in the aged ram class. The Burnview flock also went on to claim second in this class with their Strathbogie I’m Invincible ram. Beechcrest flock owners Shaun and Ruth Turkington claimed third.
Shaun and Ruth Turkington then took first in the shearling ram class with Strathbogie Statham. S&W Tait claimed second with Solwaybank Gent with Glenpark flock owner Richard Beattie taking third.
With a line up of 30 strong ram lambs, the crowded ringside got their first glimpse of the stylish RUAS champion from the Limestone flock, a son of Limestone Aston Martin. Stephanie and William Tait’s Strathbogie I’m Invincible son took second and Norman and Alfred Robinson’s Rookery Apollo placed third.
In the aged ewe line up it was Benrafton flock owners Alfred and Norman Robinson’s eye-catching Cairness Ignition bred female who was handed the first place rosette. In 2017 this ewe took the RUAS Supreme title as a shearling ewe. Donrho flock owner Patrick Donnelly took second with Campbell and Jason Watson of the Burnview flock claiming third.
With 38 shearling ewes lined out, judge Arthur O’Keeffe had a difficult task ahead. Campbell and Jason Watson’s Harpercroft Triple Crown sired shearling ewe came out on top ahead of Co. Tyrone breeders Stephanie & William Tait’s second placed Strathbogie I’m Invincible sired ewe. Ballynacannon flock owner Dennis Taylor third.
David Ford, of the Mullaghboy flock, shone in the ewe lamb category with his Strathbogie I’m Invincible ewe lamb taking first spot. Dennis Taylor placed second and Stephanie and William Tait was third.
Stephanie and William Tait continued their success coming out on top of the group of three just ahead of Dennis Taylor and Stephen Sufferin. The Burnview team also took the winning rosette with their pair of lambs followed closely by Dennis Taylor and Lesley and Mervyn Liggett.
In the final deliberations the Limestone flock claimed the Male Champion, the coveted RUAS Supreme Champion; Campbell & Jason Watson took Female Champion and Reserve Overall Champion, Stephanie & William Tait, Reserve Male Champion and Alfred and Norman Robinson Reserve Female Champion.
The interbreed was held later in the week with Stephanie and William Tait and Campbell & Jason Watson taking the Reserve Interbreed Pairs Title. Mark Priestley’s ram lamb took Reserve Supreme Interbreed Champion and also Reserve Interbreed Shortwool champion. Great achievements in very strong classes.
All in all a fantastic few days for the Suffolk breed with classes of over 40 sheep forward and many new breeders trying their hands in Northern Ireland’s premier livestock show case.
Commenting on the show, Joe Stewart N I Branch Chairman said: “This was the strongest show of Suffolk sheep in many years with visitors from all over the UK and Ireland lining the ring four deep clear evidence that Suffolk sheep are on the up and up. A fellow visiting breeder commented to me that he would have been happy to take any of the 35 gimmers forward to join his own prestigious flock.
“Our future looks bright with about 40% of the sheep in the Young Breeders Class being handled by young Suffolk breeders and the Young Breeder All Ages Championship being won by Neale Fleming.
“On behalf of the Northern Ireland Branch I would like to thank our judge Arthur O Keeffe for the efficient way in which he undertook his task and to the ring stewards for the assistance which they offered to our exhibitors.”
He added: “To our exhibitors I say a massive thank you for the trouble you took to present the Suffolk breed at its very best. Our Branch Championships take place on 8th June at Armagh Show with a large entry of quality Suffolk sheep assured.”
Ram, two shear and upwards: 1st S&W Tait; 2nd S&W Tait; 3rd S&R Turkington
Shearing Ram: 1st S&R Turkington; 2nd S&W Tait; 3rd R Beattie
Ram Lamb: 1st M Priestley; 2nd S&W Tait; 3rd AJ&NAJ Robinson
Ewe, 2 shear and upwards: 1st AJ & NAJ Robinson; 2nd P Donnelly; 3rd RC & JC Watson
Shearling Ewe: 1st RC & JC Watson; 2nd S&W Tait; 3rd D Taylor
Ewe Lamb: 1st D Ford; 2nd D Taylor; 3rd S&W Tait
Group of Three: 1st S&W Tait; 2nd D Taylor; 3rd S Sufferin
Best pair of lambs: 1st S&W Tait; 2nd D Taylor; 3rd L&M Liggett
Male Champion - M Priestley. Reserve Male Champion S&W Tait
Female Champion - RC&JC Watson. Reserve Female Champion AJ&NAJ Robinson
Supreme Champion - M Priestley. Reserve RC&JC Watson.