Co. Meath Limousin breeder William Smith is hoping to achieve four successive Beef Inter Breed Championships in a row at Balmoral Show today.
He first exhibited at the event in 2008. Over the ensuing years he has amassed a list of breed and inter breed titles that is the envy of the pedigree beef breeding world. But, he really hit the big time in 2011 when winning the Balmoral Supreme Inter Breed Beef Championship with Millbrook Celine. Home-bred, and three-year-old at the time, Celine is out of Millbrook Ulla, which had been reserve Limousin champion at Balmoral in 2009. Celine is by Greensons Gigolo.
“I was very open minded about her chances that year,” William said. “She was in peak condition with a bull calf at foot. It was very much up to the judge on the day. But to say that we were delighted would be a total understatement. It was a truly amazing day.”
Some 12 months later, the Smith family was back at Balmoral with Celine and a young heifer Millbrook Ginger Spice. Again, William knew that he stood more than a fighting chance of coming home with some decent silverware, but was left speechless with the fact that Ginger Spice picked up the Supreme Championship, a feat she repeated at Balmoral 2013. Ginger Spice was sired by Wilodge Vantastic and bred from Milbrook Baby.
“As a family we are deeply appreciative of the honours that have been bestowed on our cattle,” William commented. “But we take absolutely nothing for granted. Both Ginger Spice and Celine will be coming to Balmoral this year with calves at foot. And we will see how they get on. Winning is nice. But it’s not the be all and end all. For me the weeks spent preparing for an event like Balmoral Show are by far the most enjoyable. I don’t really like all the razzmatazz and pressure that is associated with show days.
“And if we don’t come up trumps this year, I will be the first person to shake the hand of the man or woman who does carry the field. In truth, my most enjoyable day’s competition was back many years ago when I beat my brother in a Hereford calf class at a local show. My father had given each of us the choice of the calves on the farm that year. I came home with the wining rosette while my brother had to settle for fourth place. That day stands out as it gave me the confidence of knowing that I wasn’t a bad judge of an animal.
“The successes at Balmoral have given the Millbrook herd a tremendous profile. But the plan is to build on this for the future. I am as enthusiastic for the Limousin breed now as I was thirty years ago. Limousin cattle will continue to offer the livestock industries in the UK and Ireland a unique combination of superior carcass characteristics and daily growth rates that allow commercial beef farmers remain competitive in an ever demanding world.”