Sheep is Northumberland County Show Champion of Champions

IT WAS three years in a row for the victorious sheep section as a Texel gimmer was crowned Champion of Champions at this year’s Northumberland County Show.

Champion of Champions judge Michael Aynsley, left, with the Grays and their sheep Ettrick Lady Kate

IT WAS three years in a row for the victorious sheep section as a Texel gimmer was crowned Champion of Champions at this year’s Northumberland County Show.

Ettrick Lady Kate, owned by Gordon Gray from Selkirk, took the top spot from reserve champion, a Limousin maiden heifer, exhibited by Cormack McDowell from Annan.

Mr Gray said: “Ettrick Lady Kate is an embryo daughter from a Springwell ewe we bought for £4,800 in partnership with Robert Cockburn.

“Her sire is Knock Papoose, who was the first prize shearling ram at the Royal Highland for Grey Peel Texels.

“She’s got the x-factor; she’s got character in abundance.”

The Champion of Champions was judged by Michael Aynsley, described by the commentator Mike Keeble as an “absolute legend” in the local farming world.

Mr Aynsley said: “The champion was just class right through, really classy.

“It was good on its legs, had a good top line, lovely skin and the hair on it was just like silk; a real champion.”

He didn’t visit any of the livestock sections to see the champions before the grand parade, preferring instead to wait for the parade itself to make his decision.

“It was better to see them all together,” said Mr Aynsley.

The parade was led out for the first time by a pair of Northumbria Police horses. In addition to the winners from the cattle section and the sheep champion, heavy horses and alpacas were also showcased to the crowd.

In a year when the show has received maximum entries for many of the livestock classes, the standard of animals on display was again a credit to North East farming.

Show chairman David Carr, said: “The quality of the livestock has been a highlight.”

Mr Carr, who farms cattle, sheep and arable at Highwood near Hexham, where he also runs a small haulage business, is in his second year as chairman. He said: “It’s as much stress as ever. You know what to do, but I still wake up at five in the morning thinking what I haven’t done and what needs to be done.”

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