The 33rd NSW Dorset Championships promise to be a hotly contested affair with major studs and smaller farms converging on Cowra for the much anticipated event. Held in the quiet Central West town on June 14 and 15, the Championships offer breeders the perfect chance to show their stock and not only only honours at the event itself, but also the chance to claim the major title in the newly announced "Champion of Champions" class.
Last year's event saw some fierce competition among breeders along with some standout specimens. Keith Coble of 'Kei Vale' had a successful outing and was able to take out the Champion Horn Ewe, Champion Horn Ram and Most Successful Exhibitor Dorset Horn. Grand Champion Poll Dorset Ram went to AB & DL Scott from 'Valley Vista', while Grand Champion Poll Dorset Ewe and Most Successful Exhibitor Poll Dorset was awarded to BL & LK Frost of 'Hillden'. The 'Hillden' pair were also able to take out the Best Strike Rate category.
Chief Steward, Roger Traves, said while entries were slightly down this year he was encouraged by the inclusion of five new studs and entries being received from as far away as Tamworth, Crookwell and the Victorian border. "We are very pleased with the numbers this year," he said. "It's especially good to see 20 ram lambs participating this year which is exceptional given the season we've had".
The return of Gooroma stud, absent from the Championships for several years, along with major studs such as Hillden, Springwaters, Ridgehaven and Craigwood, is sure to result in high quality entries. Roger said that despite the big teams showing, there is always a chance of an upset. "It's a great opportunity for smaller studs and breeders to enter because one or two good sheep can really change the scene and create a stir," he said.
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Outside of the main classes, regional schools will also get their chance to compete at the Championships again with Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School and Riverina Agricultural College, operating under their stud banner Boorooma TRAC, set to prove their worth on the weekend. Booroma Trac was awarded the Conron Stockcrete Trophy for champion school in 2018 with students Olivia Jones, Broolkyn Cashen and Lauren Dorsett taking the first three places in the junior handler competition.
Roger said this year's judge will be Daryl Dixon from Dubbo's Eskbank Stud, and there will be a strong focus on the breed itself. "With a Dorset you are looking for a lamb that is not oversized and has a high yield, low fat meat," he said. "They are early maturing and great for export which is why they are such a popular breed".