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Suffolk Show 2017: Stephen Cobbald claims interbreed sheep title

PUBLISHED: 14:53 01 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:10 01 June 2017

From left, Stephen Cobbald, Harry Middleditch and judge  John Campbell with Mr Cobbald's inter-breed sheep champion.
Picture : SARAH LUCY BROWN

From left, Stephen Cobbald, Harry Middleditch and judge John Campbell with Mr Cobbald's inter-breed sheep champion. Picture : SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Sheep breeder Stephen Cobbald won his “own” trophy today as his champion Texel shearling ram won the inter-breed title on day two of the Suffolk Show.

Judging of the inter-breed sheep championship.
Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Judging of the inter-breed sheep championship. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Cobbald, from Acton, near Sudbury, has sponsored the sheep inter-breed contest for many years and has won it on a number of occasions.

But no previous win will have given his as much pleasure as this, with his Texel flock having originally been created at the request of his daughter Charlotte, who very much shared his interest in sheep breeding but died in 2014 at the age of 17.

In a long career in sheep breeding, Mr Cobbald has been most closely associated with the Suffolk breed. However, he said: “Neither of us wanted Charlotte always to be associated with her ‘dad’s sheep’ and so I offered her a chance to choose a breed of her own. She chose Texels and I will always keep the flock in her memory.”

Inter-breed judge, John Campbell from Alnwick in Northumberland, who breeds Suffolks, Texels and Bluefaced Leicesters, said: “All of the sheep here today are champions and all were beautifully turned out. The champion has good character and length and was a good all-round example of the Texel breed.”

Harry Middleditch showing Stephen Cobbald's champion Texel.
Picture : SARAH LUCY BROWN Harry Middleditch showing Stephen Cobbald's champion Texel. Picture : SARAH LUCY BROWN

The champion was shown by Harry Middleditch from Belchamp St Paul, near Sudbury, whose sister, Jessica, was also in the ring with her champion Southdown shearling ewe.

It was one of three other breed champions which made it through to the judge’s final reckoning along with Mr Cobbald’s Texel, but in the end the reserve spot went to the champion Charollais, a ram owned by Mr & Mrs GC and CJ Watson from Desborough in Northamptonshire.

The Middleditch family keep Hampshire Downs as well as Southdowns, with 45 ewes in total, and experienced contrasting fortunes with the two breeds on day one of the show.

Despite having only two sheep in the Southdown classes, out of a total entry of nearly 100 for what was the breed’s national show, they took reserve as well as the championship.

Jessica Middleditch with her champion Southdown.
Picture : SARAH LUCY BROWN Jessica Middleditch with her champion Southdown. Picture : SARAH LUCY BROWN

In the Hampshire Down classes, however, they missed out on the breed championship despite winning five of the six classes and coming second in the other.

As well as working full-time on the family farm, Harry Middleditch also helps Mr Cobbald from time to time.

•The pig supreme champion at the Suffolk Show went to a British Saddleback sow, Prestcombe Dinah 83, owned by Hayley Lake from Guist, near Dereham in Norfolk. Mrs Lake also took reserve with a British Lop gilt, Guist Actress 4.

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