SHEEP farmer John Greenhalgh, still going strong at the age of 80, presented the champion pen of ten Mules at Skipton Auction Mart’s high profile opening gimmer shearling show and sale.

It attracted a quality turnout of 4,019 sheep, more than 600 up on the previous year, with solid trade much in line with expectations producing an overall selling average of £150.05 per head, an increase of £7.53 on 2013.

Mr Greenhalgh, of Rugglesmore Farm, Bashall Eaves, a regular prize winner with his Mules at the fixture, saw his latest victors sell for the day’s joint top price of £215 per head to co-judge Warwick Gill, of Melton Mowbray.

Mr Greenhalgh, who received the Edgar Boothman Memorial Trophy, consigned all 92 of his current crop of Mule gimmer shearlings, which he buys in as ewe lambs and brings them on to sell the following year.

As usual, there was ardent interest at the ringside in NEMSA-tagged consignments from frequent vendors, many of which had been purchased at last year’s annual Skipton Mule gimmer lamb show and sale, one of the UK’s top fixtures of its type.

Peter and Edward Fox, from Withgill, Clitheroe, presented the second and fourth prize Mule pens, with the runners-up also achieving£215 high when again snapped up by Mr Gill, while Threshfield’s Angus Dean went to £210 per head to secure the Fox’s fourth prize pen. The same vendors also had a pen at £200.

The third prize pen from Coniston Cold’s David Coates fell for £185 each to Ken and Lynne Throup, of Silsden Moor.

Also prominent with high priced pens were James Towler, of Grindleton, at £200, Margaret Liddle, of Summerbridge, at £195 twice and 2013 Mule gimmmer shearling champions James and William Hall, of Darnbrook, at £195 and £190.

Henry Harvey & Son, of Waxham Hall, Waxham, won the Texel show class for the third year in succession, with their pen of ten twice-crossed home-breds selling at £200 per head, joint top price in class, to Malcolm Campbell, of Horton-in-Ribblesdale, who also bought the Harveys’ 2013 victors.

Ben Harvey made the annual trip to Skipton from the family’s 500-acre holding near the Norfolk coast with a consignment of 320 Texels and Mules. He also presented the second prize Texel pen, knocked down at £185 per head to J&I Whitaker, of Clapham.

The third prize pen from LW&EJ Coverdale, of Beckwithshaw, sold for £195 per head to Skyreholme’s Owain Chapman, with the fourth prize pen from Robert Towers, of Farleton, Lancaster, joining JE&ME Grange in Follifoot at £140 each. The Coverdales also sold another Texel pen at £195.

The other joint Texel high of £200 fell to Bob Newby, of Wetherby, who sold further pens at £195 and £185, with Blackburn’s Angela Nairey also prominent with pens at £195 and £192.

Mr Towers also sold a Charollais pen at £145 per head, with class prices peaking at £148 for an entry from Mark Crabtree, of Kettlesing.

First prize in the show class for ten Masham shearling gimmers was awarded to Chris Douthwaite & Partners, who run over 1,000 sheep and farm 150 acres of arable land at High Snape Farm, Kirkby Overblow, Harrogate. Their charges sold locally for £130 each to Skipton’s Keith and Jeanette Marshall.

Overall breed numbers and averages, with 2013 comparisons, were: 3,425 Mule shearlings, average £149.57 (+£4.95); 569 Texel shearlings, £154.07 (+£18.36); and 15 Charollais shearlings, £116 (-£5.74).