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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Quality and quantity at Penrith Show

It was a show of firsts in more ways than one as records tumbled, stars were born and Penrith welcomed its first lady champion of champions judge in its 180-year history.

Penrith Show photo
Vic Guy, of Tebay, with his Champion Rough Fell sheep

Heather Pritchard, pedigree sales and marketing manager for Carlisle-based auctioneers, Harrison & Hetherington, stepped in at the 11th hour after the original judge, Jamie Fisher, took ill.

Heather, who has worked for H&H for the 35 years, relinquished her post as assistant announcer at the show and took Mr Fisher’s place in Penrith Show’s main ring.

“No pressure then,” laughed Mrs Pritchard, as she stood in front of the show’s cream of livestock classes.

After much deliberation, Mrs Pritchard, who lives at Scaleby, near Carlisle, chose the star of the beef classes, Vodka Bleu, a 15-month-old commercial cross bullock.

Delighted owner Julie Sedgewick, from Penrith, said: “It’s a stunning animal. It beat everything today.

Mrs Pritchard said: “It was an honour for me to be asked to take Jamie’s place. I feel very privileged.

“It was a difficult decision to make. All the animals standing in front of me deserved to win, but for me the bullock stood out.”

Saturday’s show, which took place at picturesque Brougham Hall, just south of Penrith, was bursting to the seams with animals of all shapes and sizes.

Sheep numbers were so high, one class alone saw a staggering 22 pairs of North of England mules.

“It was a rare sight. It took most of the day to judge the sheep classes,” said an exhausted sheep steward, John Wharton.

The unmistakeable skirl of the Scottish bagpipes heralded the start of the main event of the day, the Grand Parade, and another first for the show.

The equine movie star, who played Joey in the movie Warhorse led the rows of beautifully-turned out animals sporting the spoils of the day in the shape of different coloured winners’ rosettes round the main ring – to the delight of thousands of visitors.

“He’s a star in his own right. He was the one on the red carpet with Steven Spielberg,” said an ecstatic announcer.

Marquees lined the outer areas of the showfield as both animals and their owners sought refuge from the baking sun.

“Some of the animals are feeling the heat,” said one competitor, bank manager Judith Hunter, who had taken top honours in the Charolais classes with her young heifer.

Just then, screams and laughter could be heard from the depths of the rows of livestock, as hosepipes were turned from four legs on to two.

“That’s one way of keeping cool,” said Mrs Hunter, of Wigton.

Show secretary Mandy Hitch said: “It’s been a cracking day. The sun has brought out record numbers, and despite the heat everyone has thoroughly enjoyed themselves. What more could we ask for?”

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