A “tremendous” young mare swept through the cards at the National Stallion Show, lifting the Prince Philip of Wales Trophy as the supreme exhibit from the Clydesdale breed.
Taking the trophy home to Clackmannan from the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston was Shielhill Diamond Jubilee, owned and bred by Robert Sibbald and his grandmother Mrs Rimmer, from Thorn Farm, at Dollar.
This rising three-year-old filly is out of Shielhill Sheer Delight and sired by Mollinhillhead Celebrity.
She took the majority vote for the overall accolade from breed judges Brian McMillan, of Clyde View, Rothesay; Sandra Henderson, of Ballycastle; Peter Keron, of Marefield of Craigs, Madderty; Willie Craig, of Rashillhouse, Stewarton; and Martin Fountain, of Woodhouse Farm, Derbyshire.
“She has great bone, a fabulous action and beautiful hair,” commented Mr Keron who, alongside Ms Henderson, had given the mare the nod for the female championship and in doing so granted her passage to the supreme.
“She’s really just a tremendous young mare with a good future in front of her,” he added.
On her most recent outing, Jubilee won her class, stood senior champion and progressed to take the reserve supreme at the Clydesdale Horse Society Winter Fair.
Prior to that, she had stood overall of the Aberdeen Clydesdale Show, champion at Kittochside, first at Braco, reserve female at Perth and was second at the Royal Highland Show.
Meanwhile, rising through the 13-strong yearling filly class to stand reserve of the female lines was Collessie Jennifer, from Fife breeders Ronnie, Mike and Pete Black, of Newton of Collessie, Ladybank.
The product of both the 2011 Cawdor Cup winning Clydesdales, this April-born filly was home-bred out of Ormiston Mains Amber and sired by Redcastle Brelee Majestic.
Beaten only once during her foal season, Jennifer stood overall champion at Kilpatrick, supreme champion at Forfar and the North of Fife, champion at Lanark and reserve at Kilmarnock.
On the last occasion that Jubilee and Jennifer went head to head at the Winter Fair their roles were reversed, with Jennifer prevailing to take both the foal championship and the overall supreme.
“The yearling class was very good in terms of quality, but this filly was an easy winner,” added Mr Keron.
In the contest for the entire Clydesdale championship, judges Willie Craig and Martin Fountain reached stalemate.
As the tension built around the ringside, the ultimate decision was deferred to breed umpire Brian McMillan who chose to send the 2015 and ultimately outright Cawdor Challenge Cup win home with Robert Hamilton, of the Dillars Stud, Lesmahagow.
His winner was three-year-old Dillars Excel, which had earlier in the year stood third at the Royal Highland, was male champion and reserve overall Clydesdale at Peebles and male champion at Biggar.
“He’s a cracking young horse with tremendous potential,” Mr McMillan said following his final decision.
“To me, he just really stood out. He’s also a keen mover, has nice bone and lovely hair.”
Excel was bred out of Littleward Lucinda by Charlie Carrick, of Easter Littleward, Thornhill, and his son Matthew was at the ringside to witness the win and to take receipt of the Medcalf Challenge Cup in recognition of his breeding.
Lucinda which won the Cawdor Cup herself for the Carricks in 1998 in her two-year-old year was sired by Collessie Cut Above, but also brings to the fore Torrs breeding, with Torrs Triple Crown and Torrs Trueform as the sire and great sire on her dam side.
On his sire side, Excel highlights the Dillars Stud’s dominance in the Cawdor arena.
Indeed the stud, initially established more than 20 years ago by the late George Hamilton, has lifted the Cawdor championship with three of its previous stallions consecutively with Dillars Leader (2002) and then Leader’s son Dillars Scottie Boy (2003) and once again with Dillars Striker (2005).
Most recently, Robert came tantalisingly close to winning the cup in both 2011 and 2012, when he took Cawdor reserve with Dillars In The Lead and Dillars Ideal, respectively.
“This championship has been a decade in coming,” commented Robert, who was thrilled to finally lay the ghost of that elusive outright win.
He said he felt that obtaining the award three times, let alone four, was a rare and remarkable achievement.
However, the result of any umpire decision will always leave one judge unhappy with the final outcome.
On this occasion, Mr Fountain felt the result had gone against his favour.
“There might be a lot of good in this stallion, but I wouldn’t have had him winning his three-year-old class,” explained Mr Fountain.
“My favour fell towards the 2014 Cawdor Cup winner, which I felt was a more superior horse, and I would rather have taken him all the way.”
This was Charlotte Young’s stallion Doura Master Eddie, which has stood supreme of the show just 12 months previously.
However, during the adjudication of the three-year-olds, Mr Fountain and Mr Craig had also reached deadlock, and Mr McMillan had similarly stepped in to hold the final sway.
He took Dillars Excel forward to the final stages of the competition as this class leader.
Mr Craig had similarly championed Dillars Excel from the get-go: “He was without doubt my top horse of the day.
“He offers a great hind leg, colour and top line. He has true, easy going and natural movement.
“If I was to find any fault in him, I’d say he’s a wee bit straight in the ankle on his front legs but by saying that, I feel I’m really just splitting hairs,” he added.
Overall, the judges said the quality of horses forward for competition was good, and healthy numbers had been bolstered by the new central Ingliston venue.
As umpire, Mr McMillan drew Charlotte Young’s yearling colt forward as the reserve entire champion.
“He’s a nice young horse; he’ll have his day,” he said of Doura Top Spec.
Mr Fountain added: “The yearling class was easily the strongest of the day. All of the top six from that line-up have a very good future ahead of them.”
March-born Top Spec, which was sired by Carnaff Perfection and bred out of Barnhill Rebecca, previously won the senior colt class at Lanark, the North of Fife and the Winter Fair, and was also reserve overall foal and best colt at the Lothian and Borders.
This year, he was first in his class at Kilpatrick.
Champion gelding was Rocky, from John and Margo McIntyre of Gillmill Cottage, Stewarton.
This seven-year-old, sired by Millisle Solway Bay and out of Quaker Heather, was first at Fenwick Show last year and previously stood as reserve gelding champion at the Stallion Show in 2001, 12 and 13.
Paul Bedford took reserve with Charlie, an Irish-bred gelding by Aghadowey Ambassador on its first show outing.