WITH  his sole entry, a rising two-year-old bull, Lake District breeder Dean Saunders, who runs the Maidenlands herd at Tarn Flatt, Ulverston, claimed top call of 4,400gns (£4,620) at CCM Skipton’s ‘Blue Wednesday’ highlight, the annual showcase for British Blue bulls and females. 

His Maidenlands Superman, is a May, 2022, ET son of Almeley Marhez, a 9,000gns purchase in 2019 and the first of his males to be sold at auction, bred from the natural calving Maidenlands Holly, said to be the best breeding female in the herd and herself a daughter of Imperial De L’Ecluse.

Mr Saunders, who stood supreme champion on his Blue Wednesday debut in 2021 and was also responsible for last year’s 5,000gns top price bull, saw his 2024 leading price performer fall to south-west Wales buyer Henry Dixon, who trades as WH Dixon & Sons with wife Margaret and sons David and Robert, and had travelled specifically to the sale from Walterstone Farm, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, in search of an easy calving crossing bull to utilise on the family’s circa 200-head British Friesian dairy-only herd. Calves from pedigree bulls are retained for finishing.

Following hot on the heels of the top price at 4,300gns was the first bull into the ring and another sole entry from Cumbria’s Richard Carruthers, who runs the Valley herd at Raw Foot, Brampton. His Valley Pacha, an October, 2020, Tweeddale Ironman son, out of the home-bred Valley Nina, an ET daughter of Kubitus De Bray, already has calves on the ground to pedigree cows and, now ready for further work, joined the Dean Partnership from Bolton Percy, Selby.

North Yorkshire father and son, Stewart and Joel Gill, of the Hallfield herd, Dacre, Harrogate, the 2023 Blue Wednesday supreme champions, had a field day in the show area, winning all but one of the five show classes under North Craven judge Graham Coates, who runs the Greystone herd with brother Alan at Rainscar Farm, Stainforth.

Not only did they retain the overall championship with a maiden heifer, also female champion, but they also consigned the champion male and overall reserve and while the bull returned home, their fully home-bred title winner, Hallfield Tia, an April, 2023, daughter of Hallfield Puma, out of Hallfield Lily, who has sold bulls to £6,500, went on to sell for 2,400gns to Daniel Thackray, from nearby Fewston, who also took home two further Hallfield maiden heifers at 2,400gns and 1,800gns.

Also making 2,400gns was another older red rosette-winning maiden heifer, Hallfield Sienna, born July, 2022, and again by Puma, out of Hallfield Oti, one of the herd’s biggest cows, selling to Mike Thuey, Easingwold, while the runner-up in the same show class, Hallfield Sunflower, an April, 2022, daughter of the 5,000gns Hallfield Otto, out of Hallfield Martha, did better at 2,500gns when joining D Walbank, Oakworth.

The Gills further headed the female prices at 3,000gns with their first prize senior heifer, Hallfield Sophie, sired by Sandyvale Jagerbomb, out of Hallfield Let’s Dance and carrying a positive pd to Hallfield Mojo, a Great Yorkshire senior male champion. She fell to Scottish phone bidder Bill Stephens from Turriff, Aberdeenshire. Back with the boys, Gill family bulls sold to 3,800gns, this for third prize winner, Hallfield Sowers, a Greystone Noveltee son bred from a Trencrom Ka Ching daughter, Hallfield Mary Sow, a cow whose first son made 5,000gns. The County Durham buyers were B&JD Beadle & Son, of Staindrop. In addition, the prolific Gills claimed 3,000gns with a July, 2022, bull, Hallfield Sonny, by Trent Valley Neo, bred from a Tamhorn Enterprising-sired dam and going to Angram Livestock in Masham.

Another 3,800gns junior bull was consigned by Paul Johnson, who runs the JRJ herd in Torrington, York. His February, 2022, JRJ Stormzy, is an ET son of the renowned Cromwell Fendt, a star sire for the Dunsop Bridge Walkers, themselves familiar face and multiple past champions with their Blues at Skipton. Bred from the reliable Lukeroyal Gem, Stormzy joined JG Bamforth & Sons in Thongsbridge, Kirklees.

Two further 2022-born Paul Johnson bulls also sold well. The Astrics JJ son, JRJ Shadow, out of the easy calving Abbeybain Jazzy, made 3,500gns when claimed by the Hubberholme-based Huck family, while the General De L’Ecluse son, JRJ Smirnoff, again bred from Lukeroyal Gem, claimed 3,000gns, also selling locally to David Newhouse, Horton-in-Craven, Ken Gamble, who farms with his wife Hazel and runs the Linthorpe herd at Brickyard Farm, Easingwold, has for many years been supporting the Blue Wednesday fixture and this year arrived with three solid 2022 bulls, which all found new homes.

Now a sprightly octogenarian, Ken was delighted to pick up his first-ever reserve champion’s rosette at the annual showcase when consigning a first prize junior bull and reserve male, Linthorpe Selwyn, a mainly black, tall and mobile son of the Belgian sire, Heros du Peroy, out of the home-bred Linthorpe Natalie, herself by the well utilised stock bull, Homilton Jupiter. Selwyn topped the trio on price at 3,100gns when also joining D Walbank, Oakworth, followed by a brace of Jupiter sons, Linthorpe Sylvester and Linthorpe Sid, which made 2,900gns and 2,500gns respectively and joined Roger Wood, Crossroads, Keighley, and DH Challis & Son, Middlesmoor, Nidderdale.

Local breeder John Stephenson, who runs the Bordley herd at Bordley Green Farm, claimed 3,600gns with a junior bull, Bordley Superman, a June, 2022, ET son of Topside Maverick, out of the Tanat Harlequin daughter, Bordley Naughty But Nice, which fell to Richmond’s ID Brown. The Stephensons also made 1,900gns with a third prize maiden heifer, Bordley Splash, again by Maverick.

A brand-new face at Skipton, Guy Elsworth, who runs the Sand Lane herd in Raskelf, Easingwold, made an immediate impact with a 3,300gns sale of his all-white bull, Sand Lane Surrender, a naturally born 2022 son of Greystone Noveletee. Out of a daughter of the home-bred sire, Sand Lane Jeremy, the bull became a further purchase by the Dean Partnership.

Ribble Valley father and daughter, Garry and Heather Whalley, who run the Jaygar herd at Newton-in-Bowland and took last year’s reserve championship, sold two 2022 bulls with Greystone breeding at 3,000gns and 2,500gns. The former, Jaygar Stanis, a Greystone Carbon son, joined Tim Metcalfe, Clayton, Bradford, the latter, Jaygar Seoras, by Greystone Kilo, going to Colin Whitelock, Gargrave. A 2022 Jaygar maiden heifer also made 2,200gns.

Allan and Deirdre Wilkinson, who run the Springfield herd at Out Rawcliffe, Preston, and finished top on price last year with a 5,400gns cow and calf outfit, picked up second and third prizes in the 2023-born maiden heifer show class.

The latter, Springfield Trudy, a naturally born daughter of Tamhorn Sumo, out of the Ballygrange Alex-bred Springfield Portia, did best at 2,600gns and went to New York Farms on Silsden Moor, the runner-up, the Blak Du Baty D’Eprave daughter, Springfield Tiffany, away at 1,900gns.

Amongst the 2023-born maidens, Dylan Townend, Clifftown herd, Broughton, Malton, also hit 2,600gns with Clifftown Totty, a July 2023 ET daughter of Dodou De St Remacle, which also travelled to Silsden Moor with Simx Ltd.

The remaining prize winner came from local husband and wife, Richard and Wendy Maudsley, who run the Littlebank herd, Rathmell. Their third prize April, 2022, junior bull, the Greystone Novello son, Littlebank Socrates, made 2,800gns when heading to Dacre with Ian Moorhouse.

The sale attracted an increased turnout of 38 head, virtually double the previous year, with an 84% clearance of bulls to average £3,465, heifers averaging £2,387.