We meet some of the Dorset contenders who will be entering the ring at this<br/><br/>year's Royal Bath and West Show...
Growers, producers and breedersfrom across Dorset are gearingup for the Royal Bath andWest, one of the countrys biggestagricultural shows, in the hope ofshowing what the county can achieve ina variety of competitions.
Les Gould and his Hereford Cattle:
Shaftesburys Les Gould has beeninvolved commercially with Herefordcattle all his life. However over the last16 years he has taken a keen interest intheir showing potential, resulting innumerous successes at the Royal Bath &West. Les bred the Hereford CattleSocietys UK Hereford Sire of the Year,winning in both 2010 and 2011 with hispride and joy, the magnificent Baybridge1 Atlas. As a judge of 12 years standing,Les knows what hes looking for in prizewinningcattle, but says its still hard toknow what other people are looking forin a champion. There are things that aprize-winning animal has to have, like astraight back and a good strong backend, but everybody has their ownopinion and very few people agree! Aswell as showing his Hereford cattle Les islooking forward to visiting the big tractorand implement section and seeing someof the many gardening exhibits.
John & Anna Milners Jacob sheep:
Jacob sheep are something of a passionfor John and Anna Milner of Wimborne.Theyve been showing at the Royal Bath& West every year since 1987. We showthere because it has such a high standardof livestock on show in both the sheepand cattle classes, says Anna. Thestewards are always very welcoming andit is such an attractive showground.From having a plot of land which theylet out for others to keep sheep on, thecouple decided theyd quite like someJacobs themselves, and now arepassionate advocates for the breed. Ifyou do well at a show its good forpromoting the breed, says Anna, whohopes that the exposure at the show willencourage more people to share theirpassion for this rare breed sheep.
Di Davies, Alpaca Breeder:
From being a successful Army officer, toa highly successful alpaca breeder, DiDavies of Melplash, Bridport, doesnt dothings by halves. With five years left untilher retirement from the Army and threeacres of land, Di went to the New ForestShow where she saw these wonderfulcreatures and fell in love with them.When she heard that there were somealpacas due to be imported fromAustralia, she took on three of them.Now her company, Alpha Alpacas, hasaround 70 alpacas and Di has won the prestigious accolade of Small Breeder ofthe Year. The Royal Bath & Westcurrently hosts the biggest alpaca show inEurope but it all started back in 2005when Di set up the first alpaca show.Its gone from being just a smallSaturday show for the alpaca, to a fourdayshow featuring up to 400 exhibitors.
Rupert Best, Cider Maker:
Dorset has a long history of ciderproduction and Rupert Best fromMelplash, is continuing a family traditionthat dates back to 1860. As a cider applegrower, Rupert is keen to promote thetradition of cider making and, being onthe Bath and West council, he set up theorchard and cider section in 2000.Ruperts main focus is to support otherproducers, and growers including Dorsetcider producers: There are a number ofgood producers in Dorset, includingRose Grant and Nick Poole, in fact therehas been a real growth in Dorset cidermakers over the past few years.This year Raymond Blanc will be ajudge for one of the cider and orchardcategories. I hope to see increasedsupport for growers and small cidermakers in community orchards, saysRupert. who adds that there is talk of aJubilee and an Olympic cider beingunveiled at this years show.
Ann Bassett, Horse Breeder:
A doyenne of Dorset horse breeding andshowing, Ann Bassett, from EtheridgeFarm & Stud, Okeford Fitzpaine innorth Dorset, is eyeing up her chancessuccess at this years Show. We usuallytake two lorry loads of horses to theshow, including hunters, hacks, colouredsand Irish Draught horses, says Ann whohas been going to the Show for the last35 years. We select very carefully andwork out what a particular judge will liketo give us the best chance. Ann has highhopes for Casino Scandal, who wasSupreme Champion at the highlycompetitive Royal Welsh Winter Fair.Another hot favourite is Its A FamilyAffair, a 3-year-old bred by Anns partnerTony Wareham, and owned withCaroline Burrington; as winner of theThree Shows Challenge last year (Devon,Royal Bath & West and Royal CornwallShows) could this equine championsweep the board again?