A Royal Showcase for Dorset Producers - Royal Bath and West Show
Growers, producers and breedersfrom across Dorset are gearingup for the Royal Bath andWest, one of the country’s biggestagricultural shows, in the hope ofshowing what the county can achieve ina variety of competitions.
Les Gould and his Hereford Cattle:
Shaftesbury’s Les Gould has been involved commercially with Hereford cattle all his life. However over the last 16 years he has taken a keen interest in their showing potential, resulting in numerous successes at the Royal Bath & West. Les bred the Hereford Cattle Society’s UK Hereford Sire of the Year, winning in both 2010 and 2011 with his pride and joy, the magnificent Baybridge 1 Atlas. As a judge of 12 years’ standing, Les knows what he’s looking for in prizewinning cattle, but says it’s still hard to know what other people are looking for in a champion. “There are things that a prize-winning animal has to have, like a straight back and a good strong back end, but everybody has their own opinion and very few people agree!” As well as showing his Hereford cattle Les is looking forward to visiting the big tractor and implement section and seeing some of the many gardening exhibits.
John & Anna Milner’s Jacob sheep:
Jacob sheep are something of a passion for John and Anna Milner of Wimborne. They’ve been showing at the Royal Bath & West every year since 1987. “We show there because it has such a high standard of livestock on show in both the sheep and cattle classes,” says Anna. “The stewards are always very welcoming and it is such an attractive showground.” From having a plot of land which they let out for others to keep sheep on, the couple decided they’d quite like some Jacobs themselves, and now are passionate advocates for the breed. “If you do well at a show it’s good for promoting the breed,” says Anna, who hopes that the exposure at the show will encourage more people to share their passion for this rare breed sheep.
Di Davies, Alpaca Breeder:
From being a successful Army officer, to a highly successful alpaca breeder, Di Davies of Melplash, Bridport, doesn’t do things by halves. With five years left until her retirement from the Army and three acres of land, Di went to the New Forest Show where she saw these wonderful creatures and fell in love with them. When she heard that there were some alpacas due to be imported from Australia, she took on three of them. Now her company, Alpha Alpacas, has around 70 alpacas and Di has won the prestigious accolade of Small Breeder of the Year. The Royal Bath & West currently hosts the biggest alpaca show in Europe but it all started back in 2005 when Di set up the first alpaca show. “It’s gone from being just a small Saturday show for the alpaca, to a fourday show featuring up to 400 exhibitors.”
Rupert Best, Cider Maker:
Dorset has a long history of cider production and Rupert Best from Melplash, is continuing a family tradition that dates back to 1860. As a cider apple grower, Rupert is keen to promote the tradition of cider making and, being on the Bath and West council, he set up the orchard and cider section in 2000. Rupert’s main focus is to support other producers, and growers including Dorset cider producers: “There are a number of good producers in Dorset, including Rose Grant and Nick Poole, in fact there has been a real growth in Dorset cider makers over the past few years.” This year Raymond Blanc will be a judge for one of the cider and orchard categories. “I hope to see increased support for growers and small cider makers in community orchards,” says Rupert. who adds that there is talk of a Jubilee and an Olympic cider being unveiled at this year’s show.
Ann Bassett, Horse Breeder:
A doyenne of Dorset horse breeding and showing, Ann Bassett, from Etheridge Farm & Stud, Okeford Fitzpaine in north Dorset, is eyeing up her chances success at this year’s Show. “We usually take two lorry loads of horses to the show, including hunters, hacks, coloureds and Irish Draught horses,” says Ann who has been going to the Show for the last 35 years. “We select very carefully and work out what a particular judge will like to give us the best chance.” Ann has high hopes for Casino Scandal, who was Supreme Champion at the highly competitive Royal Welsh Winter Fair. Another hot favourite is It’s A Family Affair, a 3-year-old bred by Ann’s partner Tony Wareham, and owned with Caroline Burrington; as winner of the Three Shows Challenge last year (Devon, Royal Bath & West and Royal Cornwall Shows) could this equine champion sweep the board again?
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