We returned home last night from three days and two nights at the Royal Bath and West Show. Tired physically and emotionally after having had a great time. Great weather, it hit 28 degrees yesterday afternoon, great company and a truly splendid alpaca show organised by the one and only Di Davies.
It turned out to be the tale of three browns for us as our two blacks, Ruby May and Rico were really not at their best, heavily overfleeced the crimp just dropped out of them and although they still looked good from the outside they sweated up and it was perhaps a show too far for them.
So back to the browns, little Roger Resilient, the beautiful Reeya and of course, the big 'un, Qjori, who was looking magnificent. If you remember from an earlier posting I did say he was just getting better and better.
Right then, here is my report on this years show, or rather our involvement in it. It starts off with Roger on the first day but I must point out that it may all get a bit silly towards the end.
Sue was chief handler this week, she does look sooooo much better in a white coat than I do and really enjoys taking the Mighty Patou show team into the ring. Here she is with the small but perfectly formed Roger Resilient on day one in the junior brown male class. Don't they look fabulous!
It appeared to be a close call from the show's judge Val Fullerlove and Roger picked up a very creditable second place. We were up and running and we were very pleased. We had a rosette to hang on the pen, nice one Roger!
Day two was intermediate day and we had Reeya and Ruby May in the ring. There was a bit of running around as I got the girls ready for Sue and as a result I have no photos of Reeya taking the first place rosette in the Intermediate Brown Female class! However, she was then straight in to the Intermediate female Championship.
This was the first Age Championship Show of the year for us and it is notoriously difficult to get anything darker than a fawn to pick up Champion or Reserve.
Here are Sue and Reeya in the line up for the Championship. Sure enough the Champion and Reserve did indeed go to the white and fawn end of the line up but then something delightful happened. Val placed the ribbons on the two winners and then took the microphone to tell the audience about her choices. Only she didn't. Well not straight away. No, she took the microphone and then invited the audience to look at the beautiful brown female! She asked them if they wanted to know what an intermediate female alpaca should look like to look at the beautiful brown girl standing in the ring! Sue and I were overwhelmed with pride for our little Reeya, she looked superb! Check out Sue's smile!
Day two had ended on a high with Reeya but this show, for me, was all about day three. Day three was adult and seniors day. Day three was time for Qjori to enter the ring. Qjori had been at the showground for the three days and had attracted a lot of interest. But he was the only adult brown male there for days one and two. His rivals didn't arrive until day three. When they arrived I had a sneaky peek at them, they looked impressive. Qjori was up against Inca Cayenne a dark brown male bred by the Mighty Inca stud and now owned by Holycombe Alpacas and EP Cambridge Southwind, Champion brown male at the National Show this year. It was going to be tough for our boy from Burnie, Tasmania. By the time Sue was about to enter the ring I am afraid I was a complete wreck. The nerves had got me, my hands were shaking and I just couldn't sit still. This was the big one, this was what we had been waiting for. IT WAS QJORI TIME!
Sue and Qjori entered the ring and I was finding it difficult to stay upright. Never before have I been so nervous watching one of the Mighty Patou. Angus was sitting next to me and even he knew what was going on. He was nervous too and he's only eight!
The judge took her time but Qjori nailed it! First place adult brown male! I could have leapt the rope and kissed everyone in the ring! And everyone in the audience! I didn't, obviously, that would have been very wrong. WHAT A RESULT!!!
We had achieved what we had dreamed of, Qjori had done it and we were happy to go home then and there. Having won his class though Qjori was straight back in a few minutes later for the Adult Male Championship. Sue and Qjori got to stand in the front row for the championship which was lovely.
Here they are in a pretty impressive line up of adult male alpacas. Angus and I were now relaxed and smiling at all and sundry, Sue was cool as a cucumber in the ring and everything was just plain dandy.
Val Fullerlove again went along the line examining the adult male class winnners. Here she is looking at Qjori. By this time Angus and I were chilling out enjoying the atmosphere, a big crowd had gathered and we were relaxed and enjoying the experience. I had already explained to Angus that in Age Championships the Champion and Reserve were nearly always the white or fawn alpacas because of the advanced fleece quality in the lighter coloured animals. He understood and we started talking about when we would be packing up and heading for home.
EP Cambridge Litigator, the winner of the adult white male class was called forward as the Champion Adult male. Congratulations to Matt and Cathy Lloyd. The second placed white male then moved in to the front rank and our judge deliberated over who would take the Reserve Champion sash.
And then something extraordinary happened.
Val examined the white male, the fawn male and then Qjori. Then, and I tell you what people this altered my posture and got my attention, Val asked Sue to take Qjori acoss to the white male so that she could compare their fleeces! Suddenly my mood had changed from one of relaxation to one of complete high alert. The Inca / Amiryck mob were on the other side of the ring, including Diane Hey who had bred Qjori, I could see that they were all getting excited, everything had changed in a couple of seconds. Then, and this was when the tears started to flow inside the ring and outside the ring, Qjori was sent forward as Reserve Champion Adult Male!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FANTASTIC!
Everything after that was a bit of a blur. Qjori had done more than we ever expected. He is a truly wonderful boy and that was a truly magical moment for us. Absolutely magical.
Now if you'll forgive me I am going outside to lean on a fencepost and watch that big brown ball of fluff as he goes about his business of keeping his grass down.
And that folks, is that.