Matt Burleigh bags another CCM Skipton Beltex winter females championship Making his annual sortie across the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland’s Matthew Burleigh, who runs the Matt’s pedigree flock at Shanra, near Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh, once again stood supreme champion at The Northern Beltex Society’s tenth annual winter sale of pedigree in-lamb females at Skipton Auction Mart.

Excluding last year’s sale-only fixture, at which Mr Burleigh nevertheless took the four leading prices, he was effectively winning his fourth consecutive winter title with his first prize shearling ewe, Matt’s Falsehood, an April, 2020, single lamb among the first crop by embryo transfer of the Irish-bred 12,000gns Ardstewart Angus, himself a son of the 9,000gns Rathbone Tony, bred locally in North Craven by the Davis family.

The victor’s dam is the home-bred Matt’s Www, by Pentland Showman and also mother to Matt’s Draygon, which stood male and reserve supreme champion for Mr Burleigh at the autumn 2019 Skipton breed highlight, later selling for joint top call of 3,200gns and, according to the Irishman, “the best I have bred so far.”

His 2021 winter female victor, scanned carrying a single lamb to the Cumbrian-bred Buckles Fizzy Pop, made joint top call of 850gns when falling to co-judge, Yorkshire Dales sheep farmer Michael Hall, of Scosthrop Farm, Airton, who was joined in the judging arena by his 12-year-old grandson Rafe Cartman, a pupil at Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton.

While making his debut in the show ring, young Rafe, who shares his grandfather’s passion for the breed, exhibited experience beyond his years in his inspection of the goods presented, stating afterwards that he had thoroughly enjoyed it.

He also has a small pedigree Beltex flock, established three years ago under the Atherton prefix, though Mr Hall says the show champion may well be destined for another grandson, ten-year-old Flynn, as a foundation for his own new flock. Another grandson, Vincent, aged eight, will likely be looking on with keen interest.

Mr Burleigh also matched the victor’s selling price with his second prize shearling ewe, Matt’s Fanta, another embryo daughter of Ardstewart Angus, out of Hackney Birdie, from well-known Shropshire breeders Paul and Christine Tippett. Also due a single, this time to the 14,000gns Murrays Expert, the class runner-up sold to Clapham’s T Crosdale.

Mr Burleigh, who arrived with seven shearling ewes, also claimed 820gns with another Ardstewart Angus embryo daughter, the March, 2020, Matt’s Flip Flop, this out of a Hackney Warrior-sired dam and due twins to Buckles Fizzy Pop. She returned to Ireland with Co. Mayo’s M Oliver. Other shearling ewes from the same home sold at 500gns and 400gns twice.

Also hitting 850gns equal top was the second prize aged ewe and first entry into the sales ring from north-east breeder Neil Nobles’s Hillview flock in Skelton-in-Cleveland, at the foot of the Cleveland Hills. His Hillview Daisy Duke is a March, 2018, twin by the Barco V/H Groentenhof son, Finniness Buzz, out of a home-bred Matt’s Superman daughter.

She arrived in-lamb to Hillview Eusabio and went home with Stuart Wood, who runs the Woodies flock in Skene, Aberdeenshire, though he was buying purposely for his six-year-old son, Murray, to add fresh bloodlines when becoming the fifth ewe to join the Skene Primary School pupil’s own Murrays flock, established three years ago and already making its mark after selling tups to 3,000gns earlier this year.

Mr Noble also presented the third prize aged ewe, Hillview Barbarella, a March, 2016, twin daughter of Clary Trump Card, out of another home-bred Matt’s Superman daughter and scanned in-lamb to Hillview Ferrari. The Lancashire buyers were A Wood & Sons, of Bacup.

After selecting their champion, grandad and grandson turned to the reserve championship, awarding it to the first prize aged ewe from Mike and Jane Davis’s Rathbone flock at Ravenshaw Farm, Eldroth. Shown by their daughter Becki Dakin, Rathbone Cynthia is a March, 2017, single by Y Bedol A-Team, bred in Wales, then sold to Belgium, before returning to the UK with the Davis family four years ago, producing multiple show winners for them and now strutting his stuff north of the border.

Out of the Dooley Napal daughter, Langlands Sandy, acquired in-lamb from Cumbrian breeder Sue Wilkinson and who has since bred really well for the Rathbone flock, the reserve champion was sold due twins to the deep-muscled Callacrag Chairman, making 400gns when travelling to the east coast with Skipton regular Mike Allen, of Staithes.

The Davis’s also made 420gns with Rathbone Flower Power, a March, 2020, twin by Criffel Denzil, out of a Rathbone Tony dam. Scanned carrying twins to Callacrag Chairman, she joined T&H Kilby & Son in Thorp Arch, Wetherby, while daughter Becki and husband Nathan, who run the Panbeck pedigree flock in Hellifield, achieved 500gns with one of their own shearling ewes, Panbeck Francis, a March-born daughter of Belvoir View Derminator, out of a home-bred Holmebeck Tonto ewe. Carrying a single lamb to the 9,000gns Horseclose Eskimo, she joined J Simpson in Derbyshire’s Hope Valley.

Beltex gimmer shearlings averaged £466 (2020 £566) and aged ewes £464 (2020 £400).