Well-known showman and judge, Malcolm Stewart, soon whittled a cracking line-up of sheep pairs down to size, finding his supreme in the best of the Beltex from Andrew Baillie’s Callacrag flock, from Carstairs Mains.

Mr Stewart, a pedigree Suffolk breeder and former Winter Fair and Smithfield champion winner from Melrose, was impressed with the sheep on display, with the first three in each class being ‘tremendous pairs.’

“I was looking for a pair of lambs that would meet the modern requirements of the housewife and the Beltex were easy champions,” said Mr Stewart. “They were an exact pair and they were good long lambs with great tops on them, and just the right amount of gigot and fat cover. Butchers want longer lambs as that is where more of the most expensive cuts are to be found in the chops.”

Making the big win all the sweeter for Mr Baillie, who has won numerous top awards at the Highland Show and LiveScot, was the fact that this was the first time his 700-strong ewe flock had secured the Scottish Fatstock Club’s butchers’ title and the supreme overall.

The flock, which includes 200 pedigree Texels and Beltex, of which 40 of the latter are being sold as part of the Callacrag reduction sale at Lanark, on December 14, took all the plaudits with a pair of ewe lambs. Bred from home-bred Beltex cross Texel ewes, they are both by the 10,000gns Clary Desperado, a tup lamb bought from Jock McMillan in a five-way partnership at Carlisle, last year, after standing first in his class at the Highland.

Previously unshown, they passed the weigh-bridge at 42kg each and later sold for £300 per head to Jimmy Stark Butchers, Sandyford, Paisley.

The reserve overall – South Country Cheviots from Andrew Reid, Glendearg, that first won the overall Cheviot section and the Mountain and Moorland title – were also described as an "excellent pair," by the judge

Securing a fourth Cheviot and M and M title for the Glendearg flock from Eskdalemuir, Langholm, but a first reserve supreme was a pair of 41.5kg wedder lambs by a home-bred sire. They were brought out with assistance of Samantha Howatson and later sold £112 per head to J Scott Meats, Paisley.

Superceding that price, the reserve amongst the hill breeds, the Blackies, realised £210 to Robert Lawson, of John Lawson Butchers, Uphall, West Lothian. This was a pair from the late Brian Dickie’s wife, Elizabeth and daughters, Morag, Susan and Jill, Spango, Sanquhar, shown by shepherd, Jonah Scott and his son, Brian.

The largest of the sheep section, the Blackies comprised lightweight, medium and heavy classes, with the 3800-strong ewe flock from Spango taking both the champion and reserve honours.

Best of the bunch was a pair of 41kg wedder lambs on their first outing by a Milnmark sire bought at Lanark. Taking the blue and white was a pair of 37kg wedders by a home-bred Spango tup.

Adding to the celebrations the Spango flock also picked up a reserve sash in the saddle of lamb competition with a Texel cross.

Father and daughter duo, John and Joanne Hall, had plenty to smile about too when their grand-daughter/daughter, April Skelton (14) not only produced the young breeders’ champion winners, but also the reserve Beltex pairing.

Add to that the blue and white sash amongst the Texels and the trophy for the supreme young handlers and it looks like the Inglewood Edge flock of 1400 ewes from Dalston, Cumbria, is in safe hands for another generation.

It was the reserve young breeders’ lambs that bagged the Beltex runner-up. This was two 44kg entries, by an Orkney tup bought at Carlisle last year, brought out with assistance from Jonny Aiken. They were bred from home-bred Beltex cross Texel ewes.

The equivalent amongst the Texels were Dutch Texels by a tup bought from Robin Slade.

Standing in front of them and producing a personal best for Kenny Johnstone, Boghouse, Lanark, the champion Texels were by Cowal Almighty, a tup bought at the second sale at Lanark, last year. They were bred from Texel cross Cheviot ewes, scaled 45kg each and were shown with assistance of daughter, Jenna (9).

Back amongst the hill breeds and John Linton, Sornfallow, Wiston, landed his second North Country Cheviot title with a pair of wedder lambs that weighed in at 41kg each. They are both by a Humbleheugh sire bought at Kelso in 2017, bred from home-bred ewes and went on to stand reserve Cheviot.

Cheviots also made their presence felt amongst the Mule and cross-bred section, with Cheviot Mules from Alex Main, Byers, Bewcastle, bagging the red, white and blue sash. Home-bred April-born, they are by a tup bought at Longtown and out of home-bred ewes. They passed the weighbridge at 43.5kg.

Just pipped at the post in this section were 44kg Scotch Mule wedder lambs from Finlay Smith, Cloverhill, Broughton, Biggar. They are by a Townhead sire bought from Iain Minto at Kelso, last year, bred from home-bred Blackies.

Suffolks might not have made their mark in the show ring but they did in the sale ring, with the second prize native' lambs from David Cuningham, Walkerdyke, Strathaven, selling for £218 per head to Robert Lawson. They are by a Quarter Suffolk ram, out of Texel cross Charollais ewes and scaled 46kg.

The Royal Smithfield Club and Kepack McIntosh Donald saddle of lamb competition was won by a Beltex cross out of a Texel cross ewe from Robert and Margaret Struthers, Collielaw, Carluke.

By the end, 155 lambs sold to average 254p per kg.

LEADING awards:

Blackface – Lightweight – 1 and reserve champion, Mrs E Dickie, Spango (74kg); 2, J and T MacPherson, Pitsundry (73kg); 3, Firm of Shawhead, Newmains Home (75kg). Mediumweight – 1 and champion and reserve Mountain and Moorland, Mrs E Dickie, Spango (82kg); 2, F Smith, Cloverhill (80kg); 3, J and T MacPherson (76kg). Heavyweight – 1, Firm of Shawhead (84kg); 2, TN Cavers, Sorbie (95kg); 3, DC Marshall, Blendewing (88kg).

North Country Cheviot – Pure-bred – 1 and champion and reserve Cheviot, TJ Linton, Sornfallow (82kg); 2, J and J Frame and Co, High Dyke (86kg); 3, A Main, Byers (84kg).

South Country Cheviot – Pure-bred – 1, champion, overall Cheviot champion, supreme Mountain and Moorland and reserve supreme, A Reid, Glendearg (83kg); 2, B and M Cockburn, Stirkfield (86kg); 3, TN Cavers (84kg).

Mules and crosses – Border or Bluefaced Leicester cross to Blackface or Cheviot ewe – 1 and cross-bred champion, A Main (87kg); 2, F Smith, Cloverhill (87kg); 3, H Cockburn and Partners, Kingside (93kg). Bluefaced Leicester cross to Swaledale or Northumberland-type Blackface ewe – 1 and reserve cross-bred, F Smith, Cloverhill (88kg).

Butchers’ lambs

Continental untrimmed – 1, R and M Struthers, Collielaw (84kg); 2, H Williams, Taldrym (72kg); 3, M Dunlop, Corstane (80kg).

Native breeds – 1, J and J Frame, High Dyke (92kg); 2, D Cunningham, Walkerdyke (92kg); 3, A Clark and Son, Meikle Glengyre (100kg).

Texel – Lightweight – 1 and reserve, R Hall and Son, Inglewood Edge (80kg); 2, K Johnstone, Boghouse (83kg); 3, H Williams (78kg). Heavyweight – 1 and champion, K Johnstone (90kg); 2, R Hall and Son (92kg); 3, D Cunningham (85kg).

Beltex – Lightweight – 1, champion, butchers’ champion and supreme overall, A Baillie, Carstairs Mains (84kg); 2, R Hall and Son (83kg); 3, J Guthrie, Cuiltburn (84kg). Heavyweight – 1, H Williams (91kg); 2, R Hall and Son (88kg); 3, A Baillie (88kg).

Continental – 1, D Cunningham (86kg); 2, R Hall and Son (102kg); 3, J Graham and A Dodd, Tundergarth Mains (84kg).

Young breeders – 1 and champion, reserve Beltex and reserve butchers’ April Skelton (88kg); 2 and reserve young breeders’, J Hodge, Dykes (90kg); 3, D Cunningham (80kg).

Young handlers – Up to 12 years – 1 and reserve young handlers, Finn Hope; 2, Joanna Dale; 3, Bruce Guild. 13-17 years – 1 and champion – April Skelton; 2, George Lang.

Single ewe lambs – Blackface – 1 and champion, G and S Donald, Whinhill, with a lamb by a home-bred son of a £24,000 Elmscleugh out of a £1200 Burnhead, Darvel ewe bought at Lanark in 2015; 2, G and S Donald; 3, DC Marshall, Blendewing.

Mule ewe lamb – 1 and champion, PJ Elliot, Bank House, with a North of England Mule ewe lamb which made up part of the champion pen at Hexham, having been bred by Messrs Reed, Lands Farm. She is by a Highberries H2 ram and stood second at the Agri-Expo at Carlisle; 2 and 3, PJ Elliot.

Bluefaced Leicester – 1 and champion, Firm of Shawhead, Newmains Home, with a ewe lamb by a Burnbank sire, shown by Alan MacLarty. She is out of a home-bred ewe by a Blarnavaid ram; 2 and 3, J Wightman and Emma McAlister, Coxhill.

Saddle of lamb – Light – 1 and 2, A Baillie; 3, T Frame, High Dyke. Heavy – 1 and champion, R and M Struthers; 2, Mrs E Dickie; 3, K Johnstone.