This year's East of England Smithfield Festival, Peterborough, had it all, a top class show of prime cattle and sheep, top quality judges and buyers prepared to dig deep to secure the very best beef and lamb for their customers' Christmas counters.
And while the halycon days of London may be a distant memory for many Smithfield showgoers, there was an extra touch of London glamour added to this year's show with both the supreme champion beast and the champion lambs destined to grace the food hall of leading Knightsbridge department store, Harrods.
Commenting on the event's success show chairman Charles Horrell said it had once again provided a fitting finale to the winter primestock season. "This year's East of England Smithfield Festival has been a resounding success, with top quality stock forward in every section and an exceptional set of judges presiding over the classes throughout.
"The atmosphere and buzz around the event has been great and we look forwards to welcoming exhibitors and visitors back to Peterborough in 2014 for an even bigger and better event."
Lifting the overall cattle championship and fufilling a boyhood dream was Castle Douglas-based exhibitor and freelance stockman Drew Hyslop and his partner Katie Davidson with their Charolais cross heifer, Bang Tidy.
This heifer, sired by Glenrock Eiger, was bought privately from Hugh and Lynne Dunlop, Holehouse, Ochiltree, making it the fourth Holehouse-bred beast to have collected the Smithfield championship.
Tipping the scales at 602kg Bang Tidy came through as crossbred Continental heifer champion and then overall heifer champion, under judge Archie MacGregor, Allanfauld, Kilsyth, before being tapped out as the show's supreme champion beast.
Bred from a Limousin cross dam this heifer had been a first prize winner at the Scottish Winter Fair.
Commenting on his champion Mr MacGregor said she was an ultimate show beast and a more than worthy Smithfield winner. "She handles exceptionally well, has a great loin and length to her and has that all important added sparkle needed in the showring. She was without question the best beast here today."
In the traditional show auction conducted by Newark Livestock Market Bang Tidy collected the highest price of the day when selling for £8000 to William and Robert Woodward of Bowood Yorkshire Lamb buying on behalf of Harrods.
It was another heifer which came through to collect the reserve overall championship too, this time a purebred Limousin heifer from the Harryman family, Keswick, Cumbria.
The Harryman's reserve heifer champion and reserve overall winner was Keskadale Gamel, a June 2011-born heifer by Sarkley Volvo and weighing 724kg. Gamel won the purebred heifer championship and overall purebred title before going on to collect the reserve supreme championship and the King's Cup for the best homebred beast at the show.
And in a rare twist Gamel became the first beast to win the King's Cup for the second year in succession, having been homebred champion at last year's show too. Prior to her Smithfield return she had taken a red ticket at Agri-Expo, Carlisle, and stood second at the English Winter Fair as well winning numerous championships throughout the summer. She later sold at £3000 and heads to Scotland for breeding.
Taking the show's overall steer championship for a record sixth year on the trot were the Alford family, Mike, Melanie and Charlotte, with their Limousin cross steer Harlem Shake. This one was bred by O J Kendall, and was bought from the Leyburn Spring Spectacular earlier in the year.
Sired by Cawfields Dazzler, Harlem Shake was steer champion at the Royal Welsh Show in the summer, as well as the Great Yorkshire and Royal Highland Show and has been a first prize winner on the winter circuit as well as claiming the steer championship and reserve overall at the Scottish Winter Fair last week.
Another long-time Smithfield supporter then collected the reserve steer championship when Sennybridge-based Elfed Williams' steer Dynamite Dougie scooped these honours.
Bred by Wilson Peters and bought at the Caledonian Marts Calf Sale in September for £4500, Dougie is a son of Normande Adventurer and is out of a Limousin cross dam. He was reserve overall champion at last week's Royal Welsh Winter Fair.
Reserve crossbred Continental heifer championship honours fell to Cumnock's Ian Lammie. Mr Lammie's winner was the winner of the heavy weight British Blue sired heifer class Sweet Cheeks, a 698kg entry bred by Andy Woodburn.
Taking the reserve overall purebred title was Tim and Kitty Bodily’s reserve continental champion Llanymynach Hiccup. This home bred British Blue heifer is by Dartanjan and the only heifer out of Black and Blue Cleopatra. She weighed 602kg on show day.
Leading the way in the Native purebred classes was Mouswald-based Aberdeen-Angus breeder Matt Currie with his Angus steer Base Jumper. This 712kg Catrionas MacAllan son stood Aberdeen-Angus champion at the Scottish Winter Fair.
Standing reserve to him was the Philip Claridge with his South Devon heifer Knowlhill Sally 21. She is by Knowlhill Duke and weighed 614kg on her first outing and is from a herd of 240 cows including 150 South Devons.
Standing top of the line in the Baby Beef championships was John Smith-Jackson, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, with his home bred British Blue cross heifer calf, She’s a Diamond. Sired by Heatherview Copper and out of a Limousin cross cow, this one weighed 362kg and was champion at Agri-Expo at the beginning of November.
Reserve overall Baby Beef championship honours fell to Alistair and Elizabeth Vance, Newton Stewart, with their Limousin cross heifer Bonnie Betty.
This May born heifer is by Wilodge Azure and was a winner at Colmonell and Wigtown Shows and was reserve Baby Beef winner at Agri-Expo, Carlisle, last month.
Standing top of the Native Baby Beef classes were Jason and Sarah Wareham with their Galloway-sired steer calf Cheeky Vimto. Homebred, this one is by Ballavair Black Jack who was purchased at Castle Douglas and is out of a British Blue x Limousin dam. Currently weighing 310kg, he has picked up three seconds this back end as well as the reserve champion steer calf at Birmingham last month.
Galloway cattle continued their reign in this championship with Tim and Kitty Bodily standing reserve to the Wareham’s with Foxhillfarm Super Bonzo, by Quartz of Kilsnstown. Purchased on his dam at the Alford family’s dispersal of their Galloway herd in Brecon, this one weighs 375kg and was steer calf champion at the Welsh Winter Fair last week.
In the show's beef ribs competition the winner was Robert Needham, Louth. Mr Needham's winning ribs came from a British Blue cross Lincoln Red heifer, born in March 2012.
The reserve title was awarded to Michael Read, Horncastle with these ribs coming from a Limousin cross steer, weighing 324.2kg.
In the sheep section it was a pair of Beltex cross lambs from Herefordshire-based producer Robin Slade which collected the overall championship.
Mr Slade was winning his first live championship at Smithfield and achieved a rare triple at the event, taking the carcass title and reserve carcass championship too, this time with Dutch Texel sired lambs from his Weekfield flock.
The champions, a pair of homebred ewe lambs came through as the overall Continental champions under judge Stuart Clatworthy, Somerset. They tipped the scales at 91kg and were described by Mr Clatworthy as more than deserving champions, being an evenly matched pair of lambs with exceptional tops, loins and ends. “Throughout the show the top end of every class has been outstanding, it's a credit to all the exhibitors to have such a strong selection of lambs to pick from.”
These lambs are also destined for Harrods having been bought by the Woodward family for a new Smithfield record price of £5100 apiece after a frenetic bidding battle.
Mr Slade's carcass champion a homebred Dutch Texel, killed out at 22kg achieving an E3L classification. Sired by a homebred tup from the Weekfield flock, this lamb weighed 38kg alive. A very similar pure-bred Dutch Texel gained his reserve card which again graded at E3L and weighed 22.5kg.
Taking the reserve Continental and reserve overall championship spot were a pair of Blue Texel cross lambs from David and Linda Wadland, Daventry. This pair, by a Whatmore sire bred by Steve and Sara Gibbons weighed in at 79kg the pair and it was a close run thing for the championship, said Mr Clatworthy. These lambs sold at £380/head under the gavel of Newark sheep auctioneer James Sealy.
The overall Native championship once again went the way of Melrose's Malcolm Stewart, with Mr Stewart notching up another Native championship at the event with Suffolk sired lambs.
Mr Stewart's champions are by a homebred tup from his Sandyknowe flock and out of homebred Beltex cross ewes. They emerged from a strong line-up to take the Native title, including another pair of Suffolks from Mr Stewart, the winners of the untrimmed Suffolk cross class.
Reserve in the overall native championship went to a pair of Southdown x Beltex cross lambs from Jonathan and Chrissie Long, Kent. In the Continental purebred championship the winners were a pair of Texels from David and Linda Wadland, with a pair of Dutch Texels from Robin Slade standing reserve.
The Native purebred title also fell to the Long family, with a pair of purebred Southdown whether lambs with a pair of South Country Cheviots from Stephen Cobbald taking the reserve title here.
The show also hosted a number of pedigree calf shows and Alloa-based Richard, Carol and Jamie Rettie scooped top honours here when their Aberdeen-Angus heifer calf Retties Lady Ruth N228, won the overall interbreed championship. This heifer came to Peterborough on an impressive run at the winter calf shows and was pick of the draw at the recent pure calf show of Angus cattle at the Scottish Winter Fair.
She is by Rawburn Elysium F547, this one is out of Wall Lady Ruth E397 who was purchased at the Wall dispersal sale.
Standing reserve interbreed champion and again fresh from a reserve championship win at Edinburgh were Mike, Melanie and Charlotte Alford with Foxhillfarm Izzy. This one is by the noted Wilodge Vantastic and is out of Bankdale Alice, making her full sister to last year’s champion and multi award winning heifer Foxhillfarm Gracie.
The Alford family then celebrated further success when they won the Duke of Norfolk trophy for the best team of three pedigree calves, with the Shorthorn team standing reserve. Reserve to them was the Beef Shorthorn team of three from Tracey Severn. Charles and Sally Horrell and Brenda Wear.
Reserve spot in the Angus lines went to Wickmere Poppy N623 from A Hurn and partners, born in January she is by Jerusalem Mr Bojangles G130 and out of Balioua Pearl H173.
Meanwhile, reserve in the Limousins also went to the Alfords, this time with Foxhillfarm Impecabull, again by Vantastic and out of Bankdale Alice. He was the winner of the Cornwall Calf Show earlier in the winter season.
Taking top honours in the Beef Shorthorn championship was Tracey Severn’s Highlee Gabriel. This Vulcan of Upsall son is out of the show cow Highlee Blackbrook Dipsy. This February born calf is on his first outing on his own after being shown at foot of his dam this summer.
Standing reserve was Harry Horrell’s January-born Podehole Madeline Glamour. She is out of the 2009 Highland Show champion Podehole Madeline Zeta and sired by Trojan of Craigeassie which claimed the interbreed championship at the Royal Highland Show 2011.
The Charolais classes saw the Rix family win with Wissington Impish, an April-born Gretnahouse Ferdinand son out of Seawell Arnica. This one has already stood reserve champion at the South of England Calf Show. Reserve here went to the Harrison family with Lakenheath Ivory, a home bred heifer by Lakenheath Delboy.
Topping the line in the Lincoln Reds was Julie Evans’ Springwood Sterling. This March-born calf is by Hemingby dragoon and out of Hemingby Treasure K502.
Taking the championship tickets home in the Red Poll classes was John Williams with the April-born Pinguis Duke, a Kemerton Zetalnd bull calf out of Marsh house Xandra. This one has already taken a first prize at the Shropshire Calf Show when he was just three months old. Reserve here went to the winner of the senior bull calf class, Abbey Ceasar from David Blunt. Born in September 2012, he is by Onerfawr Prince and is out of Abbey Willow.
Then in the Simmental classes it was David and Lesley Sapsed that took the championship with Heathbrow Ex Factor, an April 2013-born son of senior sock bull Dirnanean Welcome out of Darsham Real Treasure, a daughter of the successful show cow Darsham Kit Kat. This one will be featuring in the summer team for the Heathbrow herd next year.
Reserve here was Rhys Grenham with Boars Head Dare Devil, a son of Sacombe Balmoral out of a Hocknhull-bred cow.
The last of the pedigree calf shows was the South Devons in which top spot went to Paul and Pam Harrison with Brafferton Trooper 20, a January-born home bred bull calf by Lumbylaw Leo 2 and out of a previous show cow Brafferton Stella’s Betty.