MOST BLUEFACED Leicester breeders again enjoyed a cracking trade with top prices of £8000, £6500 and £6000, paid, but there is no doubting the fact that purchasers were far more selective.
While the breed again topped the averages league in both the shearling and ram lamb sections, auctioneers admitted the commercial trade was ‘sticky’ in places, particularly later in the day.
“It was a tremendous show of shearlings and anything good was making a great trade,” said Archie Hamilton, sheep auctioneer with Lawrie and Symington at Lanark.
“Sheep with good white, a touch of colour and tight coats, were easy to sell, but it was sticky in places, with a good percentage of the commercial rams selling at between £500 and £700.”
Hexham and Northern Marts’ auctioneer, Trevor Simpson, added that prices were better in the first half of the day, with most flockmasters eager to get their tups bought and home before queues for passes and tup taxis built up.
“Prices were definitely better in the morning with commercial sheep making anything from £700 to £900, and by the end of the day, the same sheep would be £150-£200 cheaper,” said Mr Simpson.
However, it was the final hour – between 2 and 3pm – that witnessed two of the three top sellers, to include Mrs Obie Sharp’s sale leader at £8000 from the 50-ewe Newbigging Walls flock from Longcroft, Lauder.
Producing a best ever here was the pen leader brought out by Alan Rogerson. He is son of the H2 Carry House, a crossing tup bought at Hawes in 2015 in partnership with the Riccalton, Happrew and Edlingham flocks for £15,000 which last year bred sons to £3800 for Mrs Sharp. 
The sire of several of the top pen of Scotch Mule ewe lambs sold at St Boswells that made £138 per head, he is out of a home-bred ewe by a £6000 G1 Duhonw, and sold to Sam McClymont and sons, William and Scott, Tinnis, Yarrow.
Eight of the 10 Newbigging Walls shearlings were sons of the H2 Carry House tup, which all sold well with the 10 producing the second top flock average at £2155.56.
The exact same sire was behind the £6000 crossing shearling from Mrs Sharp’s daughter Jackie and son-in-law, Colin Campbell, Easter Happrew, Stobo, when their pen leader was knocked down to Malcolm Coubrough, Hartside, Lamington, Biggar.
The sire of the first prize Blue ewe lamb at Abington and the Mule ewe lambs that were placed at Peebles Show, this big tup is out of a home-bred ewe by an E5 Townhead tup purchased from Iain Minto for £3500 – one of 30 ewes in the Happrew flock. Notably, seven of the eight Happrew shearlings were by the H2 Carry House ram, which averaged £1902.50.
Traditional Bluefaced Leicesters also sold well with this type producing a personal best of £6500 for John Dykes’ Mendick flock from South Slipperfield, West Linton. 
This Blue boy is one of the last sons sold by the Red Cottage ram bought at Carlisle in 2011 that bred Alan McClymont's top show winning Mendick tup. Reserve traditional at the pre-sale show, he is out of a home-bred ewe by a Mosser Mains tup that was also acquired at Carlisle. This shearling ram headed home with Messrs Williams, Blacket House, Eaglesfield.
Two traditional Blues realised £4000 including the first from the McClymonts – Alan and sons Sam and Oli – Kirkstead, Yarrow, who enjoyed a cracking trade, despite being first in the ring at 10am. Their pen leader, by the five-shear Burndale ram that boasts two Highland Show championships, is bred from a ewe by a Leadburnlea ram bought as a lamb at Carlisle. First at the Highland, the Scottish Progeny Show at Dumfries and second to the champion at Peebles, he heads out to work at Philiphaugh, Selkirk, managed by Alan Cowens. 
Minutes later, another by the same sire but bred from the old Kirkstead show ewe made £3000 to the same buyer. The 10 Kirkstead Blue shearlings averaged a whopping £1940.
New breeder, W Burrow, Dale Edge, Whittington, Preston, bought the second £4000 Blue from husband and wife team, Mickey and Nicky Gray, Low Espley, Morpeth. A son of a H1 Shrewbridge tup bought for £4000, out of a home-bred ewe by the F2 Ashes tup, this big lad stood first in his class at Peebles and Penrith Shows.
Back amongst the crossing type and an early calling paid dividends for first time shearling vendors, Alex Brown and son Anders’ Macqueston flock from Tynron, Thornhill, when they received £5000. 
The sire of several of the champion pen of Scotch Mule ewe lambs at Castle Douglas that sold for £154, he is an AI son of a C18 Highberries, a ram retained for breeding by Mr Marston. His dam is a home-bred ewe by a Lunesdale F2 whose full sister sold privately to the Campbells at Glenrath. Jack and Sheila Kay, Hartside, Oxton, Lauder, were the final bidders.
Dougie Fleming’s small flock from Coulter, regularly makes it’s mark too and this year was no exception, with his 12 ewes producing a £4400 shearling ram purchased by Seamus O’Kane, Northern Ireland. There were some top genetics behind this cracker too as the sire was the £12,000 Midlock F27 sold here last year to the Kays, Hartside, onto a Midlock ewe with a Tanhouse sire. The tup was also the sire of £110 Scotch Mule ewe lambs sold last month from the Elvan flock.
Just behind, on £4200, Robert and Fiona McKie’s similarly sized ewe flock from Finniness, Castle Douglas, sold its best to near neighbour, Robin Jardine, Upper Hardland. Reserve champion crossing shearling at the pre-sale show, this fella is got by semen from the E1 Hewgill ram owned by the Wights at Midlock, and bred from a Hundith ewe lamb by a C3 Smearsett that was bought at Hawes four years ago.
Four came under the hammer for £3200 including the No 3 from the Wight family at Midlock, Crawford, purchased by Messrs Robson, Yatesfield, Hexham. He is by a J6 Hewgill and out of a home-bred ewe by the E1 Bull and Cave.
Midlock also sold the lead priced Blue lamb at £2600. A son of an F27 Midlock, he was knocked down to J Hamilton, Crosswoodhill.
Midlock genetics were behind the next £3200 shearling too, when Jim and Colin Dick, Hamildean, Stobo, sold a son of the £6000 G37 Midlock out of a ewe by a F11 Firth, to Benson Wemyss Estate, Edston.
First time Kelso consignor, Alex Kirkpatrick, Barr, Sanquhar, also took £3200 for his pen leader. A son of a £1600 H17 Burnbank tup bought in 2016, out of a ewe by the E19 Nunscleugh, he was purchased by near neighbour, Jim Walker, Drumbuie. The tup was the sire of several of the champion Scotch Mule ewe lambs at Dumfries, that sold for £116.
Matching that, Malcolm Thornborrow and sons Craig and Gary, Easter Dawyck, Stobo, sold their No 1 to Alastair and David Macarthur, Nunnerie, Elvanfoot. 
Their purchase is by the £23,000 H1 Carry House, and the sire of six of the flock’s top Scotch Mule ewe lambs that made £157 at St Boswells.

Averages: 514 shearling rams, £940.19 (-£68.76 for 21 more sold); 26 ram lambs, £758.46 (+£21.14 for 15 fewer).