Cropper supreme champion sets all-time mart record sheep price at Skipton pedigree Beltex highlight A new Skipton Auction Mart record price for a single sheep of 9,500 guineas, or £9,975, was established at the Beltex Sheep Society’s 14th annual show and sale of pedigree rams and females at Skipton Auction Mart

The all-time high fell to the supreme champion, the first prize shearling ram and male champion from the newly renamed Signature pedigree flock – formerly Hudhey - of Red Rose farmer and butcher George Cropper, of Manchester Road, Baxenden, Accrington. It also represented the highest price paid to date this year for a Beltex shearling tup.


The March, 2013-born Hudhey Tenacious, is by Hudhey Rockafella, which was itself first prize aged ram and reserve supreme champion at the high profile fixture, out of an ewe, Hudhey Razzle Dazzle, sired by the 18,000gns Dooley Napal, which remains a UK record price for a shearling ram after being established in 2010. It proved a real family affair, as the three-year-old Razzle Dazzle herself became the first prize aged ewe at Skipton.


The title winner sold in a two-way split between Brian Hall, of Ainstable Hall, Ainstable, Carlisle and Henry Jewitt, of Gracie’s Farm, Romaldkirk, Barnard Castle. They will be sharing Tenacious in the hope of producing top-notch show progeny and potential future champions from what they both agreed was by far the best ram they had seen this year.


Brian Hall has been running his current pedigree Beltex flock since 2001 when acquiring nine ewes from Belgium, original home of the breed. He now runs some 120 ewes in total and has achieved multiple show and sale successes.


So too has Henry Jewitt, at 19 one of the youngest breeders in the society’s flock book. He first started with Beltex in 2006 and now has 55 ewes. This year alone, the young up-and-coming showman has been responsible for the reserve female champion at the Three Countries Show, first prize aged ram at the Great Yorkshire, reserve overall at the Royal Welsh and champion at both Northumberland and Skelton Shows.


George Cropper, also supreme champion at the corresponding 2011 and 2012 Skipton Beltex shows, was represented at this year’s renewal with a first-rate pen of 12 rams and females, which all sold well and to an overall average of 1,841gns.


He also sold a shearling ram, again sired by Dooley Napal, for 2,400gns to Norfolk breeders MJ Daniels & Son, of Norwich, along with a further shearling, sired by Cree Sparticus, at 2,000gns to R Hall & Son, of Dalston, Carlisle.


Mr Cropper, who works at Roaming Roosters Farm Shop, in Higham, near Burnley, returned to the ring to see his first prize aged ewe, Hudhey Razzle Dazzle, another well-bred daughter of Dooley Napal, sell for 2,500gns to Harry Wood’s Dean Brow flock in Dutton, near Preston.


The same vendor capped an excellent day when also presenting the first prize ewe lamb and reserve female champion from his Signature flock, which was making its debut in the show arena.


Signature Whats App, by the 3,500gns Clary Naevus, is by Mr Cropper’s main show ewe, Hudhey Rochelle, who is a Royal Welsh champion, Great Yorkshire Show first prize winner and overall reserve at the Penrith progeny show. Her April-born daughter sold for 1,000gns to Andrew Wood, of Whittington, near Preston.


Mr Cropper declared himself “chuffed to bits” with his all-time Skipton record price coup, which was more than double his previous best price for a Beltex sheep, and with his overall performance at the breed highlight. He said on Monday: “I was over the moon – in fact, you could say I’m still on it!”


This year’s Beltex showcase itself attracted a record number forward of 348 sheep, 301 of which found new homes, which represented a 43.5% increase on the previous year, once again demonstrating the sound base of strong commercial trade for which the fixture is renowned. Shearling ram averages rose by £140.78 to level at £726.49.


However, it was the breeders’ sheep that really caught the eye and the sale set off at a blistering pace when the first sheep into the ring, the George Cropper-bred Hudhey Rockafella, reserve supreme champion and sire of the supreme champion, made 2,600gns.


Rockafella, also reserve male champion, was bought for 4,000gns, then a mart record prize, at Skipton’s 2012 pedigree Beltex highlight by Sean Forshaw, who runs the Meadowside pedigree flock in Alston, Longridge, Preston.


By Borderesk Leap Frog, a product of Anne Story’s flock at Hobbiesburn, Longtown, he has since been shared to great success with fellow Red Rose breeder Harry Wood, also shining in the show ring with prize wins at the Great Yorkshire, Royal Welsh and Penrith progeny shows. Rockafella, who created much pre-sale interest, found a new home in Norfolk with Norwich’s RW Mickleburgh.


Show judge Andrew Graham, who runs the Grahams pedigree flock at Wigton in Cumbria, said of his chosen father and son supreme champion and reserve supreme: “Both are real types with outstanding carcases – just how they should be.”


Female champion was the first prize shearling ewe from a show debutant, Northern Ireland’s Elizabeth McAllister, who runs the Artnagullion pedigree flock with her brother William at Kells, near Ballymena.


The February-born Artnagullion Topsy is by Graham’s Ringo, acquired as a ram lamb for 4,500gns, and who has sired gimmer lambs to 3,200gns and shearling gimmers to 3,000gns. Out of the home-bred Artnagullion Roxi, she sold for 700gns, again to Andrew Wood.


The McAllisters established their Beltex flock 19 years ago and it now comprises some 40 ewes. Their long journey to Skipton proved well worthwhile, as they successfully sold all ten sheep in their pen.


The first and second prize ram lambs came from the Cleveland-based Hillview flock of Neil and Jane Noble in Guisborough. Both are by Matt’s Superman, bred in Ireland by Matt Burleigh, out of Bridge dams – the Nobles bought the Beltex Bridge flock near Middlesborough last year and Mr Noble remains a shepherd on the farm for the remaining sheep.


The red rosette winner, Hillview Warbler, sold for 700gns to Messrs Thorpe & Kaye in Holmfirth, with the runner-up, Hillview Wayward Lad, going under the hammer at 550gns to Taylor Bros in Tosside.


John Wood, who was dispersing his Trawden-based North Valley flock, chipped in with the fourth prize and second highest priced ewe of the day at 1,000gns, described by the vendor as the best ewe he has ever bred by Great Yorkshire and Royal Highland Show winner, Buckles Masterpiece. The three-year-old was knocked down to a buyer from North Wales, Conwy’s DE Owen.


Back with the rams, Messrs Jones and Roberts made the long journey from Llangynin, St Clears, in South Wales, with a nice pen of shearling rams, with a pair of Matts Playboy-sired entries selling away well at 1,750gns to S&RE Williamson, of Hamsterley, Co Durham, and 1,700gns to J Whitton, of Spaldington, Goole.  


The entry comprised four aged rams, 156 shearling rams, 38 lamb rams, 28 aged ewes, 97 shearling ewes and 23 ewe lambs.


Averages: Gimmer lambs £407.17 (2013 £420), shearling gimmers £395.03 (£445.73), aged ewes £537.06 (£417.90), ram lambs £406.79 (£475.65), shearling rams £726.49 (£585.71), aged rams £1,325.63 (£609.00).


Chief prices: G Cropper, Baxenden, 9500gns, 2500gns, 2400gns, 2000gns &1400gns, S Forshaw & H Wood, Alston and Dutton, 2600gns, Jones & Roberts, Llanygnin, 1750gns & 1700gns, J Wood, Trawden, 1600gns, D Towers, Wray, 1300gns, KCB Shuttleworth, Gargrave, 1300gns &1200gns, H Wood, 1200gns, JH Barrow & Son, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, 1100gns, J&E Hedley, Thorne, 1050gns.


Results: Aged Ram – 1 S Forshaw, 2 JH Barrow & Son, 3 P&A Moss, Rokeby. Shearling Ram - 1&2 G Cropper, Baxenden, 3 E McAllister, Kells. Ram Lamb – 1&2 PN&VJ Noble, Guisborough, 3 MR&JE Davis, Rathmell. Aged Ewe – 1&3 G Cropper, 2 H Wood. Shearling Ewe – 1 E McAlister, 2 S Currie, Rathmell, 3 H Wood. Ewe Lamb – 1 G Cropper, 2 H Wood, 3 D Towers.


The show classes were sponsored by Skipton-based Windle Beech Winthrop, represented by Chris Windle, and JG Animal Health, represented by Robert Garth.