NORTH of England Mule Sheep Association chairman Kevin Wilson was crowned champion in the flagship pen of 10s show class at Skipton Auction Mart’s opening 2018 gimmer lamb highlight.

While Mr Wilson, who farms with his wife Daphne and their son James, at Hewness House Farm in Blubberhouses, between Skipton and Harrogate, won both the pens of 10s and 20s show classes at Skipton’s second Mule ewe lamb sale last year, it was the first time the family had clinched the prestigious and much sought after title at the opening sale.

It remains one of the leading fixtures of its kind in the north and just the second to be staged in NEMSA’s annual high profile members-only autumn ewe lamb show and sale season, which runs through until the end of October.

Six in the victorious Skipton pen were by the Wilsons’ high performance F1 Bighead tup, shared in partnership with his Richmondshire breeder Alan Busby, of Marrick, the remainder by Bighead’s home-bred sons. They sold for the day’s top price of £270 per head to the Haynes family in Winslow, Buckinghamshire. For good measure, the Wilson family also finished fourth and fifth in the pens of 20 show class with similarly bred lambs, which sold at £130 and £138 respectively. Mr Wilson began his two-year term of office as NEMSA chairman in February this year and is doing a great deal to promote the North of England Mule, which remains the country’s most popular commercial sheep. After becoming 10s champion at his local mart, Mr Wilson commented: “We are over the moon. It is a career highlight.”

The Smearsett flock of WA and A Booth, based at Old Hall Farm, Feizor, north of Settle, which in 2017sent out the champion pens of 10 and 20 for the second year running, fell just short of a remarkable hat-trick when father and son, David and Robin Booth, again won the 20s show class and finished runners-up with their 10s.

The majority in the reserve champion pen of 10 were by the Booths’ home-bred G11 tup ‘Ted,’ a further two by his sons and one by the highly regarded and well utilised Bluefaced Leicester ram, D15 Smearsett, which has been responsible for so many of the family’s top performers at Skipton in the past. They sold for £140 each, with the similarly bred pen of 20 victors not far behind when knocked down for £135 per head to John Greenhalgh, of Bashall Eaves.

The opening sale attracted another solid entry of over 6,000 head and produced an overall selling average of £91.22 per head, a fall of just £6.87 on the year.