Strong Skipton gimmer shearling trade up £25 on the year Skipton Auction Mart’s opening prize show and sale of gimmer shearlings, the traditional launch fixture for its annual breeding sheep season and one of the keynote early fixtures in the calendar, saw a total of 4,770 head sell to an overall all-breeds average of £177.43, well up on the previous year’s £152.05 and very much in line with both vendors’ and purchasers’ expectations. (Tues, Aug 24)

In the six standalone show classes, a new cup – The James Boothman Memorial Trophy – was up for grabs for the first time in the Continental shearlings class. It was donated by Linton’s Thomas Boothman in memory of his late father, who passed away last year, though Thomas, who farms at Linton Hall Farm, was unable to present it personally, as he actually won the show with his pen of ten home-bred pure Texels by Hull House rams bought out of Skipton two years earlier.

Stepping in to do the honours was CCM chairman Kevin Wilson, with Mr Boothman’s victors, his sole entries on the day, later selling for a wonderful £300 per head, top price of the day for a pen of ten by a considerable margin. The buyers were TH&K Wood, of High Birstwith, Harrogate.

Continental shearlings found a three tier trade, with the very best sheep keenly contested and £200-plus commonplace for quality lots. The second and third prize show pens from Whalley father and son, Richard and Mark Ireland, and Owen Wells, from Monyash in Derbyshire, both made £215. The overall Texel selling average was £185, +£31 on the year.

However, Mr Boothman was on hand to present his late uncle’s Edgar Boothman Trophy, awarded annually to the first prize pen of North of England Mule shearlings, which resulted in yet another class win – their fifth in recent years – for the Ribble Valley-based Greenhalgh family, represented by father John, and daughter Anne Calvert, from Rugglesmere Farm, Bashall Eaves.

The red rosette winners, bought out of Skipton as lambs last year, sold for £230 per head, with the same vendors also responsible for the second prize pen, which did marginally better when achieving a section top of £232 and going to T&I Moran in Hellifield. The Greenhalgh’s regular annual consignment of 100 Mules averaged £195.90.

The third and fourth prize Mule pens from James Towler in Grindleton and Darnbrook’s James Hall both made £220, the latter also having a second pen at the same price, plus another at £215. Mule shearlings were a very nice trade, better sheep taking a good lift, while middle runs would be the furthest up on the year and commercial sheep also taking a useful lift. The overall average for North of England Mules was £176, some £26 up on the year.

The annual Masham Sheep Breeders Association show was won for the third time running by dyed-in-the-wool breed stalwarts WD Douthwaite & Partners, of Kirkby Overblow, who continue to run their Mashams on another farm at Menwith Hill.

Represented by Chris Douthwaite and daughter Amanda, the current Masham Sheep Breeders chairman, their home-bred pen of ten by tups with bloodlines going back to renowned Masham breeder Stan Barge, sold at £205 per head.

The Douthwaites also had the third prize members’ pen, which made a section top of £208 going to Kendal’s MA Winn. The second prize pen from the Liddle family in Stainburn made £200, the section seeing an overall sale average of £187 per head, up £30.38 on the year.

A separate show class for non-association Masham gimmer shearlings was again won by V Verity & Son, of West End, their red rosette winners selling for £185, supplemented by the third prize pen at £200, with the second prize pen from Ferensby’s Mark Elliott away at £200.

Cheviot Mules have come more into fashion of late, a trend reflected in selling prices and the introduction of a new show class for the breed, which was won by JW Hall & Son, of Darnbrook – father and son, both James, and brother William - in what was their first draw of the breed.

They have 450 Cheviot ewes at home, which go to the traditional Bluefaced Leicester tup, their pen of ten selling for £180 each, the runners-up from Kirkby Malham’s Will Wildman doing better when one of a brace of pens making £195, a selling price also matched twice by W&M Bland from the same Dales village. Cheviot Mule shearlings averaged £173.37.

Trade for Suffolk crosses was along similar lines to Cheviot Mules, better sheep in the £170s and £180s, apart from a pen of four pure Suffolks from E Webster, of Cracoe, that made a heady £350 each. The show class for Suffolk shearlings fell to W&M Oldfield, of Newsholme, their charges making £180 per head. The section produced an overall average of £174.66, +£23.47

Forward in lesser numbers were Beltex and Charollais shearlings, top price among the former £230 for a pen from the Heseltine family in Bolton Abbey, with a breed average of £170. Charollais shearlings averaged £190.

Continentals, Cheviot Mules and Suffolks show judge was Andrew Haggas, of Otterburn, with North of England Mules co-judged by Bolton Abbey’s Tom Heseltine and Martin Throup, from Silsden, and Masham’s by Bedale’s Ernie Sherwin. Show classes were again sponsored by the British Wool.