The interbreed sheep championship on Saturday at the Royal Highland saw Black Isle farmer and sheep industry insider Rod McKenzie in charge.
This is never an easy task, with the judge having to move constantly between the Maedi Visna accredited and non-accredited rings, all the while keeping a mind’s eye picture of the sheep in the other ring.
As it turned out the final tap with his stick went to the Charollais breed champion from dairy and sheep farmer Russell Gray, Langside, Lanark.
His shearling tup, Oakchurch Ozil, was bought as stock tup for his 30-strong Charollais flock at Worcester for 550gns from the Oakchurch flock. He is by Banwy Ninja and stood reserve champion at Lesmahagow.
Mr McKenzie said: “He is a tremendous, massive tup and very correct in every way. When he was let go to run he just took charge of the ring as if to say “I’m the boy.”
For his reserve champion he went to Scotland’s most numerous breed, the Blackface, choosing a home-bred two-crop ewe from the Wight family at Midlock, Crawford. This is a ewe with expensive breeding behind her, being by the £90,000 Dalchirla and out of a ewe by the Midlock bred Big Al.
A delighted Allan Wight said: “This is actually our third Highland championship and each time it has been with a ewe.”
Mr McKenzie said: “She was just the picture so feminine, sweet and attractive.”
The second reserve was the Blue du Maine from Percy Tait, Broughton Manor, Worcester.
This was his gimmer Perdi Mona Lisa by Tighnahinch Jumping Jack. She has a good show history with championships at Shropshire, Stafford and Three Counties behind her.
“This gimmer ticked a lot of the boxes but she was amongst exalted company.
“The overall standard today was tremendous,” Mr McKenzie commented.
The sheep pairs competition saw Russell Gray back in the limelight again.
The judge, Norman Douglas, Selkirk, said Mr Gray’s Charollais pair were “full of character and outstanding”.
They were also very well matched. The pair comprised the interbreed champion from the day before partnered with a home-bred one-crop ewe by Banwy Moonshine, also from Mr Gray.
The reserves were park-type North Country Cheviots comprising a home-bred gimmer from W & T Thomson, Hownam Grange, Morebattle, Kelso, and a two-shear tup from Dallas and Ruth Allen, Humbleheugh, Alnwick.
The gimmer was by Duran Peebles and out of a home-bred ewe by Crookston Fine Start.
The Allens’ tup, North Synton Ringmaster, was bought at Lockerbie last year for £4,000.