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Royal Show 2007 Summary

Avis lights up Royal gloom


Last year we sweltered, this year we got soaked. It’s no wonder the British are obsessed with the weather. But the appalling condition didn’t matter to Paul and Gillian Rawcliffe as their Almond Stormatic Avis emerged from a strong field to claim the Championship, as Simon Gee reports


To paraphrase George Orwell, ‘all Royal Shows are different, but some are more different than others’. Unbelievably wet weather meant that the 2007 event will go down as the first to see the cattle judged on concrete rather than the traditional grass. A rather compact ring was created on the washing pad at the end of the cattle sheds, and it was here that judge Dennis Smith of the Oakroyal herd in Devon had the chance to place a small but excellent show of Holsteins.

With only 27 animals forward, judging might have been a straightforward affair, but the standard was so high that Dennis had his work cut out in some of the classes. It was from one such class that the Champion emerged, as Paul Rawcliffe led his second calf Almond Stormatic Avis to the ultimate prize, bettering the Reserve Championship she collected at the Royal Highland two weeks before. Paul was only able to bring his pair of entries as part of his friend Mark Nutsford’s team, meaning that he was denied the Exhibitor-Bred Championship thanks to the intransigent attitude of Royal Show officials, who would not allow stalls cancelled by fellow Holstein breeders to be transferred within the breed.

Notwithstanding this unhelpful stance, Paul’s triumph was thoroughly deserved, as his Avis family has been consistently successful in the show ring for many years. Stormatic Avis, who is jointly owned by Paul’s father in law Frank Lawon, had to contend with National Holstein Show Champion Carhall Lyster Elizabeth in the second calver class, the day’s largest with an entry of seven. “These are two great cows” enthused the judge, “but the winner today is right at the top of her form”. Dennis admired the overall balance of Avis, and it was the balance through her udder, along with the veining, teat placement and plumbness of teats that just gave her the edge over Elizabeth. However, such was the regard that judge Smith had for the runner up that it was no surprise when he pulled her out as his Reserve Champion, giving as his reasons her youth and balance. It should be noted that both cows were shown by their breeders; congratulations to both the Rawcliffe and Mallinson families on this fine achievement.

Filling the Honourable Mention position was Champion Heifer in milk Kellywell Durham Ashley, bred in Cumbria by David Robinson and now part of the exciting new team at Sahara Holsteins, managed by David Jones. The judge also paid tribute to the Champion Dry Cow, Smiddiehill Holsteins’ Primo Jed Celeste.

We’ll have a look at the Avis family in greater depth in the next Journal, but the seventh generation VG/EX Stormatic Avis’s grand dam is the imported Bricon Prelude Avis, dam of four EX and six VG daughters here in the UK. One of these EX daughters is dam of the Champion, Almondene BC Avis EX94-3E by Charles. There’s plenty of milk in the family too, and Stormatic Avis produced a first lactation of 11,030 kg in 305 days at 4.04% fat and 3.30% protein (809 kg CFP).


Class winners

The day had started with three in calf heifers, led by W Maddock’s Wyndford Shottle Rebecca, another to miss out on an exhibitor bred award as she was catalogued under another entrant. This Picston Shottle daughter exhibited cleanness through the neck and throat and over the tailhead ahead of a Papoose from the Whitaker family’s Knowlesmere herd by the day’s Premier Sire, Comestar Stormatic.

Both the dry cow classes attracted only one entry each, but Dennis Smith explained that he felt both were worthy of a Royal Show prize card. He had little hesitation is picking the senior dry cow, Smiddiehill’s Primo Jed Celeste, as his Dry Champion, describing her as a great cow who looked fantastic on the day. Celeste was Reserve Champion Dry Cow last year, when she was pipped at the post by the mighty Dalesend Storm Maude.

Six junior heifers in milk contested their section, and emerging triumphant was Mark and Sue Nutsford’s Riverdane Astro Romance, Champion at the 2005 All Britain Calf Show. The judge described her as a big, open, stretchy heifer and felt her udder texture gave her the advantage over Sahara Holsteins’ Dalevalley Talent Royalty 2 in second. In a tight contest, her higher and wider rear udder saw her home ahead of third placed Smiddiehill Sandy Valley Erle shown by her breeders.

The Senior Heifer in milk class saw a smaller entry of four and produced the Champion Heifer in milk, Kellywell Durham Ashley. She is the first Champion for Sheikha Noora Al Khalifa’s new elite Sahara herd, managed at his Monmouthshire home by master showman David Jones. The judge commented on the strength of this class, but admired the ‘totally balanced’ Ashley, giving her the nod ahead of second placed Riverdane Strawberry Red due to her more evenly balanced udder. The day’s only Red, the youthful looking Strawberry displayed more youth in the udder than Sam McCormick’s Hilltara Champion Echo in third.

With both the Champion and Reserve forward in the second calver class, the day’s largest class was also the hottest. This outstanding pair led the seven entries but this took nothing away from Sahara Holsteins’ Bricknell Stormatic Ethel in third place, who just lacked the smoothness and balance of the second placed Elizabeth.

The two third calvers forward reprised their battle of the previous week at the Royal Norfolk Show, and the result remained the same as Worstead Farms’ Lyngate Ford Babs retained the upper hand over Airfield Rox Ring due to superior teat placement and plumbness. The judge also felt the winner handled her legs just a little better and her victory comes on breeder Gavin Paterson’s return to the Royal Show after a break of many years.

There was another repeat success in the Mature cows, with the reigning Royal Highland Show Champion Herdstown Rachel 388 taking the red rosette. Joint owner Paul Rawcliffe again brought her out in superb form and she caught the judge’s eye with her outstanding udder as he admired her teat placement ahead of Smiddiehill’s Portvale Gibson Maeve in second and Goldencalf SR Dacia in third. “What a class”, commented Dennis. “The press like to have a dig at the Holstein’s lack of longevity; well here’s the evidence that it’s rubbish!”

The same three cows contested the 50 tonne class, with the same result, but there was a re-ranking in the Total Performance class as Maeve’s superior production saw her reverse the placing with Rachel.

Lyngate Ford Babs, who represents 10 generations of breeding from a graded up family, took the Exhibitor Bred Three Generation title ahead of the Proctor’s Airfield Rox Ring, from another graded up family, and Knowlesmere Canyon Breeze Papoose. The judge again admired the udder on his winner, along with her overall balance.

Riverdane won both the Exhibitor Bred and Owned group of three classes, while Smiddiehill took the Family Pair with a pair of full sisters from the great Field of Dreams Formation Erle EX95.

Later in the day, the Champion went on to take the Interbreed title, but she and herd mate Herdstown Rachel 388 were pipped to the Burke Trophy title by the Ayrshire pairing the next day.

At the culmination of the judging, many were left to wonder where the Royal goes from here. The weather was certainly not a help to the proceedings and little more could have been done to mitigate its effect under the current circumstances, although the state of the drainage in the cattle sheds is now little short of a disgrace.

The organisers have to be a great deal more accommodating in dealing with entries to avoid another situation were the Champion cow in shown by her breeder but ineligible for the Exhibitor Bred Championship. Perhaps four days is now too long for the Show? Would it be better as a two day event as this would certainly encourage more entries from breeders without the manpower to spend a minimum of five days away from home. The RASE have pledged to put agriculture back at the centre of the Royal, but they might find they have left it too late. The growth of the specialist shows such as the Dairy Event now give the Royal the feeling that it’s less a national celebration of British farming and more a local town and country fair.

However, these criticisms take nothing away from the cattle that contested this year’s Royal. The quality was excellent and the 10 exhibitors are to be commended for turning out such a fantastic show under such trying conditions. Judge Dennis Smith may not have had the numbers to sort out that he might have hoped for, but he explained how very proud he was to have such an excellent championship line up.

As for Paul and Gillian Rawcliffe, they could barely have hoped for a better day, making the difficulties they had in getting their team to the show fade rapidly. Congratulations to all concerned on a memorable victory.