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James Robinson stands North of England Mule supreme champion on breed debut at 2022 Great Yorkshire

Carnforth’s James Robinson earned the bragging rights for an entire year when taking the supreme championship in the North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) show classes at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate. (Jul 12-15)

Showing Mules for the first time at the Great Yorkshire, he achieved the high profile coup with his first prize gimmer shearling, which hadn’t lambed as a hogg and still remains unbeaten in the show arena, having also been one of the champion pair for Mr Robinson and fellow exhibitor Zac Ward at Borderway Agri Expo in Carlisle last year.

The victorious shearling, recipient of the Jack White Memorial Trophy, a Yorkshire Agricultural Society champion’s rosette and NEMSA merchandise, was bought as part of the champion pen in Kirkby Stephen last September from Andrew Brown’s Asby Hall flock, near Appleby. She is sired by M13 Asby Hall, himself by G1 Smearsett, from the Booth family in Feizor, North Craven.

The same sheep was also part of the first prize pair by the same exhibitor for the class of dry shearlings - both coming out of the same Kirkby Stephen Asby Hall pen. The other shearling had been sired by G1 Smearsett.

James Robinson and Zac Ward also won the show class for the gimmer shearling that has had lambs this season, one of the first prize pair bred by Andrew Brown and sired by M1 Smearsett, the other by a tup from Kirkby Stephen’s Colin Dent. This shearling was bought in Bentham with a lamb at foot from James Winter in a pen of five, the lamb, sired by Wythop Hall N1, having originally been purchased out of Kirkby Stephen.

Mr Robinson also stood runner-up in the same show class, one of the pair bred at Asby Hall and sired by M1 Smearsett, while the other was bred at Yates’s Farm by the Ayrton Brothers. This was bought In Hawes and is sired by their Barley tup.

Messrs Robinson and Ward purchase their gimmer lambs from recognised breeders at the annual NEMSA autumn sales, primarily at Kirkby Stephen and Hawes, put them in lamb and sell them on as shearlings the following year, usually at Bentham. Mr Robinson says he will have up to 70 North of England Mule shearlings to sell this year.

Back at the Great Yorkshire, judge Paul Brown, of Kirkby Stephen, himself a dyed-in-the-wool North of England Mule man, remained in the same show class for his chosen reserve champion, the second prize single Mule gimmer shearling which figured among a trio of prize wins for North Craven’s Chris Hewitt, who farms in Tatham, near Bentham, and was making his debut at the county highlight. The overall runner-up came out of Lazonby and was bred by the Watson family, who run the Sanders Close flock in Slaggyford, Brampton.

The single Mule ewe lamb show class was won by immediate past NEMSA national chairman Kevin Wilson, himself a former Great Yorkshire champion, who farms with his wife, Daphne, and son James in Blubberhouses, between Skipton and Harrogate. Recipient of the Alan and Katherine Barnes Perpetual Trophy, the lamb was yet another among multiple award winners by the family’s prolific F1 Bighead, still going strong as an 8-shear. Three other lambs in the Wilson pen were sired by sons of F1, out of the same Booth Bluefaced Leicester ewe in consecutive years.

Defending Great Yorkshire champions AC&K Pye - mum and dad, Alan and Kim, and their two sons, Chris and Phil - who farm in the Forest of Bowland at Abbeystead, were again among the prizes at the 2022 renewal, including a brace of class wins in the pairs show classes for both ewes and ewe lambs.

The winning pair of Mule lambs were both sired by the new Midlock Commander tup lamb that was bought last back end, while the Pyes were also responsible for the second prize single ewe lamb, this sired by a home-bred tup, N24 Emmetts, out of the J50 Booth ewe and by G34 Midlock. The family’s first prize pair of Mule ewes came out of Chris Hewitts top pen of Mule shearlings bought out of Bentham last year

Last but not least, David , Michelle and Thomas Buck, of Barnard Castle, won a standalone ewe with two lambs show class with February-born Dutch spotted lambs 50 kilo+

Special mention must go to Mike and Betty Allan, of Staithes, who have now been exhibiting at the Great Yorkshire for more than two decades and while they are still to win the ‘big one’ they again figured among the prizes with a brace of runners-up slots and two third prize rosettes.

Full class results were: Single Mule Shearling – 1,4,5&6 James Robinson, Carnforth, 2 Chris Hewitt, Tatham, 3 Mike & Betty Allen, Staithes; SIngle Mule Ewe Lamb – 1&3 Kevin & James Wilson, 2&4 AC&K Pye, Abbeystead, 5 Chris & Christine Ryder, Blubberhouses, 6 SR Myers, York;; Pair of Ewes – 1 AC&K Pye, 2 Mike & Betty Allen; Pair of Gimmer shearlings (having sucked lambs) – 1&2 James Robinson, 3 Mike & Betty Allan, 4 Amy Wilson, Settle, 5 David, Michelle & Thomas Buck, Barnard Castle; Pair of (dry) Gimmer Shearlings – 1 James Robinson, 2 Mike & Betty Allen, 3&4 Chris Hewitt, 5 Amy Wilson, 6 David, Michelle & Thomas Buck; Pair of Ewe Lambs – 1&5 AC&K Pye 2&4 Kevin Wilson & Son, 3 Chris & Christine Ryder, 6 SR Myers; Ewe with 2 Lambs – 1 David , Michelle and Thomas Buck.

Live video action from the show classes can be accessed via NEMSA’s Facebook page.


Main picture: James Robinson with his Great Yorkshire Show North of England Mule supreme champion gimmer shearling.

Above left: James Robinson, left, and Zac Ward, with one of the North of England Mule first prize pairs at the Great Yorkshire Show.

Above centre: Kevin Wilson with the family’s Great Yorkshire Show first prize North of England Mule ewe lamb.

Above right: Chris Hewitt with his Great Yorkshire Show North of England Mule reserve supreme champion gimmer shearling.

Pictures: Wayne Hutchinson

Further info: Robin Moule 07976 559961

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