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Royal Highland Show announces this year's judges

By David Porter

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Judges have been confirmed for this years show
Judges have been confirmed for this years show

The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) has announced the judges for this year’s Royal Highland Show, taking place June 23-26.

The judges tasked with placing the country’s top cattle, sheep, horses and goats come from far and wide, from local names to those travelling from as far afield as Australia to judge Scotland’s biggest and best display of livestock.

Overall Young Handler - Following the inaugural year of the Dalchirla Trophy for Overall Young Handler in 2019, the honour has fallen to renowned Limousin breeders and regular Show-goers Sarah Jane Jessop and Dougie McBeath to place the champion Young Handler.

The choice of judges rotates around the different sections each year, with Sarah and Dougie chosen by the Chief Stewards of the Beef Section.

Beef Section - Esmor Evans, owner of the famous Maerdy herd from Flintshire in Wales, will have the privileged task of placing the Overall Beef Interbreed and Teams, while James Playfair-Hannay, who commentates on Cattle and the Grand Parade at the Show, will be judging the Beef Shorthorn.

Another successful Show competitor judging for 2022 is Tracey Nicol, who will be placing the Beef Young Handler. Tracey works alongside husband Davie running their prizewinning Charolais herd at Balthayock for Major Walter and took Overall Beef Champion in 2019 with heifer Balthayock Nessie.

Renowned breeder Alistair Cormack will be judging the Aberdeen Angus section this year.

Alistair won at the Royal Highland in 2017 during the Aberdeen Angus World Forum out of 143 cattle.

He took three bulls and a heifer to the October Bull Sales in 1989 - the heifer was Female Champion, the bulls were Senior, Intermediate and Junior Champions and went on to be Overall Champion and Reserve - a record that still stands today.

Another well-known face in the Beef Section is Wilson Peters, judging Commercial Cattle. Farm Manager at Monzie Estate in Crieff, Alistair is very well known in the showing and sale scene winning Scottish National Fatstock Champion on five occasions and commanding some of the best prices.

Dairy Section - The section sees the return of the Queens Cup this year, being awarded by Jimmy Hodge of Eyemouth, Berwickshire for the Overall Dairy champion.

Jimmy ran the 550-strong Lemington Holstein herd, which was synonymous with showing until its dispersal in 2007.

Glyn Lucas, an auctioneer at Harrison and Hetherington in Carlisle, is taking charge of the Any Other Breed class after a strong inaugural year in 2019.

The prize for Dairy Calf and Showmanship will for 2022 be awarded by Michael Yates of Castle Douglas, part of the well-known Yates family who run Eastford and Logan Holsteins and enjoyed their own successes at the Show, winning the Holstein section in 2006 and 2013.

Michael is currently the only person to have won Champion Handler at the All Breeds All Britain Calf Show three times.

Sheep Section - The Sheep Section is in great hands this year, as former RHASS Chairman and Chief Steward of Sheep, Clark Stewart will be placing the Overall Interbreed. Clark, of Cupar, Fife, is a prominent Pedigree Border Leicester, Suffolk and Texel breeder.

The Texel class will be judged by Robert Wilson of Turiff, Aberdeenshire, who has won the Suffolk section five times and Texels two times at the Highland Show.

William Dunlop, the renowned blackface breeder running 1600 breeding ewes at Elmscleugh in East Lothian, will be casting his expert eye over the Sheep Pairs and Young Handler. Another former RHASS Chairman, John Dykes of West Linton, Peeblesshire, will be utilising his 60 years of breeding experience judging the Bluefaced Leicester Traditional Type.

Alan Kennedy of Parkgate, Dumfries will be overseeing the Charollais – Alan has won 10 interbreed championships in a row at the Dumfires Show, and also competed to a high level in sheep shearing at the Royal Highland, winning Junior, Intermediate and Senior competitions.

Heavy Horse Section - In the Heavy Horse Section, there are two judges travelling all the way from Australia this year. Colin Brown, who runs McMurchie Clydesdale Stud in New South Wales alongside his wife Karen, who will be judging Clydesdale Males, while Max Marriott, of Aarunga Stud in Victoria will be placing the Clydesdale Females.

Max has been involved with the breed for over 50 years, and also judged the Heavy Horse Turnouts at the Show in 2015.

Marguerite Osborne, third generation breeder of the ‘na Dailach’ stud in Kirriemuir, Angus will be taking the reins for the Sanderson Trophy.

She is well known and respected judge, being former president of Highland Pony Society and secretary of Clydesdale Horse Society.

Her daughter Virginia judged Ridden Clydesdales at Showcase in 2021.

Anne Mitchell will be casting her experienced eye over the Highland Pony Females. Her Dunedin Stud in Denny, Stirlingshire has produced supreme champions at Olympia, HOYS, Royal International, and the Royal Highland Show.

Light Horse Section - In the Light Horse Section, the prestigious St Johns Wells Trophy will be awarded this year by Sylvia Ormiston MVO of Ballater, Aberdeenshire, while she is also judging Working Native Pony in Harness.

Sylvia enjoys the very esteemed responsibility of running the Balmoral Highland Pony stud for Her Majesty the Queen. Sylvia, alongside husband Dochy, were made members of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen in 2020.

Lucinda Russell OBE will be judging the Retraining of Racehorse class this year. Lucinda runs a successful racing yard in Kinross, famously training One for Arthur who won the 2017 Aintree Grand National.

She trains with her partner Peter Scudamore MBE, an eight-time champion jockey.

Nigel Hollings will judge the HOYS Supreme In Hand Championship.

Nigel has ridden and produced many champions in the show ring from ponies to heavyweight hunters, including the Riding Horse of the Year Fair Breeze, (also HOYS Supreme Showing Champion) and Hack of the Year Royal Angel, plus numerous other HOYS Pony Champions.

The HOYS Part Bred Ridden Section will be judged jointly by partners Chris & David Bartrum-Lawton, with Chris judging conformation and David judging performance.

Sandy Anderson will be judging the Welsh Ponies (Section B). Chairman and owner of Grandstand Media, which runs the Horse of the Year Show, Sandy is also the owner of the successful Thistledown Stud, which bred 21 ponies that qualified for the 2021 HOYS.

Goat Section - Dairy Goats, Kids, Milking and Boer Goats will be judged this year by Margaret Hardman, from Sheffield, Yorkshire. Margaret is an experienced and decorated competitor, and also the Vice Chair of the British Goat Society committee.

RHASS Chief Executive Alan Laidlaw commented: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming back some familiar faces to the judging line up this year, with many of our judges returning after being asked to initially judge at the cancelled 2020 Royal Highland Show.

“Our esteemed roster of judges includes some of the best, brightest and most respected professionals that the livestock world has to offer, and I can’t wait to see them and our competitors in action in the show rings this June.”

Livestock entries will open in early April when the schedule of competitions will also be released.

For further information and to purchase tickets please visit www.royalhighlandshow.org

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