Warm summer sunshine is what farmers and livestock have been in desperate need of for weeks and they certainly got it at Ayr.

Despite one of the wettest and most difficult springs on record, increased entries across the board coupled with glorious weather, pulled in a near record breaking crowd. Add in that all important feel good factor, and the event proved to be one of the most successful and enjoyable in years.

The Scottish Farmer: Champion Beef Shorthorn from Natalie HyndChampion Beef Shorthorn from Natalie Hynd

It proved particularly memorable for Robert and Jean Graham's Limousin herd from Stirling, when Grahams Ruth not only bagged the inter-breed beef honours but also the prestigious Rowan Crystal Trophy for the overall champion of champions.

The award, presented by Jim Craig in memory of his wife, Rowan, saw this top show cow from 2023 take the supreme when competing against the inter-breed dairy, sheep and Clydesdale horse champions, on a points basis by the various judges.

The Scottish Farmer: Reserve beef inter-breed champion, Harelaw Star, the British Blue champion from Blair DufftonReserve beef inter-breed champion, Harelaw Star, the British Blue champion from Blair Duffton

Inter-breed beef judge Archie MacGregor, Allanfauld, was most impressed by the line-up of beef champions and his choice of champion. “The Limousin is hard to fault. She’s a good big cow, full of quality, good on her legs and she looks bigger and probably better than she was last year.”

He added that his reserve winner, the British Blue champion was an equally good, shapey animal, with the commercial lead taking honourary reserve.

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The supreme, Grahams Ruth is no stranger to the silverware having stood overall champion of champions at Drymen, Gargunnock and Stirling last year and supreme beef at the Royal Highland and the Royal Welsh.

The Scottish Farmer: Belted Galloway champion was Allan and Susan Campbell's Rowater EinsteinBelted Galloway champion was Allan and Susan Campbell's Rowater Einstein

Sired by the stock bull, Claragh Franco, she was paraded by stockman Stewart Bett and his wife Lynsey, with her equally impressive November-born bull calf, by Huntershall Gladiator, at foot.

The long trip south from Huntly, proved fruitful for Blair Duffton too, when he took thye runner up inter-breed beef honours with Harelaw Star, a January 2022-born British Blue heifer, purchased last year at Carlisle for a record price of 23,000gns. Bred by Jean Mackay, she was brought out by Steven Smith and was on her first outing since.

The Scottish Farmer: Simmental supreme Kennox Frankie's Polly from David CraigSimmental supreme Kennox Frankie's Polly from David Craig

There was more success to come for Stewart and Lynsey Bett, when they landed the commercial championship with their Beef Expo champion Electra, which went on to stand second reserve. This Limousin cross heifer bred by Balfour Baillie, Orkney, won the biggest beef section, with the commercial entry attracting 36 entries.

The couple also brought out the winning inter-breed beef group for the Grahams herd – Limousins, comprising the supreme, the reserve, Garrowby Tarzan, a stockbull bought in October for 12,000gns and Ritchies Treasure, an 8000gns heifer purchase at the Red Ladies sale last year from Aileen Ritchie.

The Scottish Farmer: Electra the commercial champion from Stewart and Lynsey BettElectra the commercial champion from Stewart and Lynsey Bett

The commercial trio landed the reserve and was made up of Electra, the reserve champion, CC Cindy from Wilson Peters, Cuilt and the Limousin bullock Jack from Lucy Clark.

Leading Awards

Simmental (Judge: A Ewing (jnr), Drumbretton, Annan). Champion – D Craig, Kennox, Stewarton, with Kennox Frankie’s Polly, a 15-month-old heifer on her first outing by Ranfurly Confederate out of Kennox Taras Frankie. Her grand-dam is a former champion here. Reserve – A Wilson, Stewarton, with the 20-month-old, Cairnview Rea 8, a polled heifer by Slievenagh International, out of a previous home-bred Rea by Woodhall Ferrari. She was champion at Neilson and reserve here last year. Bull – J and E Dyet, East Merkland, Strathaven. Two-year-old heifer – AJ Wilson. Yearling heifer – D Craig.

British Blue (Judge: A Ewing jnr). Champion and reserve inter-breed beef – B Duffton, Huntly, with Harelaw Star, a January 2022-born heifer that was bought at Carlisle for the record female price of 23,000gns in January 2023 after standing pre-sale champion. She is the result of a flush from the show cow, Woodend Leonna and sired by the 21,000gns Henlli Wishmaster. Star was bred by Jean Mackay and was brought out by Steven Smith. Reserve – J and A Young, Over Auchentiber, Stewarton, with the second prize winner to the champion, Clifftown Sassy, a December 2022-born heifer bought at Carlisle in January from Dylan Townsend. Her pedigree includes the Belgian sire, James Bond VD Jorchrishoeve and Clifftown Ladyluck.

The Scottish Farmer: Ewan Burgess' Hereford champion Criffel 1 ShonaEwan Burgess' Hereford champion Criffel 1 Shona

Any other continental (Judge: A Ewing jnr). Champion, supreme beef and overall champion of champions, and reserve – R and J Graham, Stirling, with Grahams Ruth, the January 2020-born Limousin cow by Claragh Franco that scooped several breed and inter-breed championships last year as a calved heifer. Brought out by Stewart and Lynsey Bett, Ruth is bred from the French cow, Gigue and was paraded with her second calf, a November-born bull by Huntershall Gladiator and 60 days back in calf to the reserve champion, Garrowby Tarzan. Inter-breed beef champion at the Royal Highland, Royal Welsh and overall champion of champions at Stirling, Gargunnock and Drymen to name but a few. Reserve from the 30-cow herd, Garrowby Tarzan is a two-year-old Limouisn bull by Grahams Rooney, out of Gunnerfleet Nacian, bought at Carlisle in October for 12,000gns. First outing since. Senior bull, cow, maiden heifer, pair – R and J Graham. Senior heifer – A Walker, Gleniffer Farms. Junior heifer – A Gammie, Drumforber, Laurencekirk.

Aberdeen Angus (Judge: Kate McCornick, Boreland, Kirkcowan). Champion – S Prentice, Dallars Mains, Hurlford, Kilmarnock, with Dallars Mains Kaboom, a 26-month-old bull that stood first here in 2023. His sire is Haymount Warsmith, while his dam is the privately purchased McCornick Kim. Sole entry.

Belted Galloway (Judge: Kate McCornick). Champion and reserve – A and S Campbell, Galston. Supreme was the privately purchased rising four-year-old bull, Rowater Einstein. Bred by G and I French, this previously unshown entry is by Coulmony Allan and out of Glen Flojo. Reserve was Tottingworth Aysha 3, a two-year-old heifer bought privately from Tottingworth Farms after standing junior champion at the Royal Highland in 2023. She is by Shelsleys Eros and out of Tottingworth Aysha 2. Bull, heifer – A and S Campbell. Cow, junior heifer, calf – J and Z Kirk, Low Kirkbride, Auldgirth, Dumfries.

The Scottish Farmer: Champion Galloway, Blackcraig Noreen from John and James Graham and Dennis GallChampion Galloway, Blackcraig Noreen from John and James Graham and Dennis Gall

Hereford (Judge: Kate McCornick). Champion – E Burgess, New Abbey, Dumfries, exhibiting here for the first time with Criffel 1 Shona, a five-year-old cow by the Australian AI sire, Minlacowie Jubilant, out of Moorside 1 Jane bought at the Designer Genes sale. She was exhibited carrying her fourth calf. Reserve – C Smith, Turnberry, Girvan, with the 26-month-old heifer, Milovaig 1 Lady Anna 2, by Shraden 1 Perestroika and out of Milovaig 1 Lady Isla. She was reserve female at the Highland last year and reserve AOB at Nairn. Bull, cow – E Burgess.

Beef Shorthorn (Judge: Kate McCornick). Champion – Natalie Hynd, with the 13-month-old bull, Ballinlig Buster bred by Southern Ireland breeders, Amelda and Terry Middleton and bought privately on the ‘spur of the moment.’ Previously unshown, he is sired by Bushypark Spark, out of Caponellan Martha and was brought out by freelance stockman, Allan Jackson. Reserve – D and M Wyllie, The Gill, Cummertrees, Annan, with the yearling heifer, Burllie Tilly by Cairnsmore Landmark, out of Burlie Primrose. Second at the Stars of the Future. Bull, senior heifer, pair – N Hynd. Junior heifer – D and M Wyllie.

Any other native breed (Judge: Kate McCornick). Champion – J and J Graham and D Gall, Lockerbie of 3G Galloways, Blair Drummond, Stirling, with the previously unshown September 2021-born Blackcraig Noreen. Bred by the Finlays, Blackcraig, this Nucamp of Balgray-sired entry was bought in February at Castle Douglas, for 3800gns. She is out of a previous Blackcraig Noreen and was paraded in calf. Reserve – P Hunter Blair, Nether Cleugh, Dalry, with the second prize winner to the champion, Foxglove Dahlia, a similarly aged Galloway by Xpletive of Nether Cleugh out of Foxglove Awesome. Reserve at Stewartry and champion at Glenkens in 2023. Senior heifer – 3G Galloways. Junior heifer – P Hunter Blair.

Commercial cattle (Judge: M Barker, Bank End, Coupland Beck, Appleby in Westmorland). Champion – S and L Bett, Stirling, with Electra, an April 2023-born heifer by Ronick Red Hot bred by Balfour Baillie, Orkney. Purchased at the Thainstone Spectacular for £5000 in September, she went on to stand champion calf at the Livescot and reserve at the Beef Expo at J36. Reserve – W Peters, Cuilt Farmhouse, Gilmerton, Crieff, with CC Cindy, a 20-month-old home-bred Limousin cross heifer by the stock bull Carmorn Lionbar out of a British Blue cross cow. She won seven first prizes at events last year to include the Borderway Agri Expo and Livestock where she also landed the lightweight championship. Junior steer – Lucy Jack. Intermediate steer – A and S Campbell. Senior steer – A and E Vance. Junior heifer – W Peters. Intermediate heifer – S and L Bett. Senior heifer – J Nisbet. BB X – Taylor Holloway. Pair – B Duffton.

YFC home/continental beef (Judge: J McCulloch, Wallets Marts). Champion – Ross Montgomerie, Kilmaurs YFC with the January 2023-born Charolais cross, Marmaduke. Reserve – James Stalker, Kilmaurs YFC, with the February 2022-born Limousin cross bullock, Archie.