Judges have been announced for next year’s Royal Highland Show, which will take place at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh from the 20th to the 23rd of June.
Overall Young Handler
The choice of judges for the Dalchairla Trophy for Overall Young Handler rotates to a different section each year, and this year father and daughter duo Robin Orr and Caroline Morton will take up the task.
They run a flock of pedigree texels and a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, with many showing successes between them. Caroline has competed in the light horse section at the Royal Highland Show many times, including taking the Champion Working Hunter, Show Hunter Pony and Part Bred Arab titles, while Robin has won beef, sheep and dairy competitions.
The Interbreed Team Competition & Overall Beef Interbreed Championship will be judged by Peter Watson, who has been involved with Charolais and Saler breeds for many years.
Daniel Wyllie will oversee the Native Interbreed Team Championship, using more than 50 years of judging experience. RHS regular Stephanie Dick will judge the Young Handlers class, having shown Limousins, Aberdeen Angus, British Blue and Commercial Cattle, as well as Blue Texels, as well as judging competitions in the Czech Republic.
The British Charolais section will be headed up by Neil Barclay, who has more than 40 years of experience judging at prestigious shows such as the Royal Welsh, Balmoral, Great Yorkshire and shows in Northern Ireland, Ireland and France.
The top spots for Belted Galloway will be overseen by Caroline Montgomery, who farms pedigree Holsteins, Ayrshires, White and Belted Galloways and Lleyn Sheep with her husband and children. Colin McClymont will judge the Salers, using his experience as one of the first Saler farmers in Britain.
Winners of the Overall Dairy Interbreed will be chosen by David Hastings, who has more than 50 years of experience and is the only herd manager to have won the Holstein UK Lifetime Achievement Award.
Iwan Thomas, a previous judge in the National Ayrshire Show, National Guernsey Show and various County Shows, will inspect the Ayrshires, while David Booth will run his eye over the Holsteins. David has more than 20 years of experience and is a previous winner of the Northern Farm of the Year in 2021 and the Holstein UK Master Breeder award.
Robert Kite will look over the Dairy Shorthorn category, having built up more than 12 years of experience at various international events. Then livestock photographer and Holstein farmer Jane Steel will put her judging experience to the test in the British Red & White, Jersey & Any Other Breed class.
Former RHASS chairman James F. Warnock will oversee the Overall Sheep Interbreed class, having judged competitions both in Britain and internationally for more than 50 years, as well as being involved with the texel breed since 1974.
Clark Lamont will look for winners in the Overall Sheep Pairs Interbreed class, again with more than 50 years of experience across over 100 shows. For the Sheep Young Handlers, Kirsty Morton will move over from competitor to judge, having taken home champion and reserve champion commercial at the 2022 Royal Highland Show.
The Jacob section will be overseen by Nicola Fletcher, who has over 30 years of experience with the breed and has imported rams and ewes to Ireland to improve the breed there.
Picking the winners from the North Country Cheviot class, Melfyn Williams was the NCC society national president from 2020 until 2022 and has been a Welsh Council Representive three times, with more than 40 years of show experience. Rounding out the sheep judges is Will Evans, who will oversee the new Kerry Hill class.
The Dairy Goat, Kids, Milking and Boer Goat classes will all be overseen by Tim Baker, who has kept goats for over 40 years and has been involved with both breeding and showing throughout the UK.
Clydesdales in Hand (Males) will be judged by James Tennant, who has worked for over 30 years as a judge, as well as having lifelong involvement in the breed. He has won several Male Championships at the show in the past. Females will be overseen by Graffin Hanna, who is the third generation in his family to be involved with the breed.
John Cookson, who produces horses for the show ring with his wife and daughter, will judge the Ridden Clydesdales class, while the Conformation will be judged by Peter Keron.
Highland Ponies In Hand (Males) will be overseen by Gilean Docherty, who has competed for over forty years and has over 20 years of judging under her belt. Jane McNaught will judge the Highland Pony In Hand (Females) having had successes as an owner with ponies qualifying for the Horse of the Year Show and winning the Royal Highland Show Ridden Highland Pony Champion twice.
The Shetland Ponies In Hand will be assessed by Wendy Toomer-Harlow. Wendy breeds Shetland Ponies under the Eversley prefix and also has an interest in Shire Horses – winning the inaugural Heavy Horse Driven Championship at the 2023 Horse of the Year Show.
Julian Walters will pick out the top spots for Miniature Shetland Ponies In Hand. Breeding both Miniature and Standard Shetlands, Julian has attained the accolade of Shetland Pony Stud Book Society Breeder of the Year several times and has qualified a Shetland Pony for the Price Supreme in Hand final at Horse of the Year Show four times.
Winning the Sanderson Trophy for overall Scottish native horse or pony is the pinnacle of every heavy horse exhibitor at the Royal Highland Show. In 2024 Hugh Duncan will pick the champion deserving of this prestigious accolade. Hugh has over 25 years of judging experience and has been involved with both Highland and Shetland ponies for many years.
Charles Beardmore will be tasked with judging the Heavy Horse Turnouts. Charles worked with Thwaites Brewery for 54 years, the last 15 years as Head Coachman before retiring. During that time, he competed at most major shows with the Thwaites Brewery turnout and took eight National titles at the Shire Horse Show.
Light horse section
Judging the Overall Mountain & Moorland Ponies In Hand will be Elizabeth Briant, who has judged at HOYS, Olympia, the Royal International Horse Show and at shows in Australia. One of her main achievements was producing two Olympia champions, alongside having produced ponies for the late Queen Elizabeth for over 20 years – including her riding pony, Emma.
The St Johns Wells Trophy for best two In-Hand Ponies by the same sire will be awarded by Jill Graham. Having bred and exhibited Dales and Exmoor ponies for over 40 years, Jill was a member of the Dales Pony Society Council for 35 years, then General Secretary for three years before retiring as Life Vice President. This is in addition to being awarded the Wall Family Trophy for exceptional services to the Dales Pony Society in 2022.
Gillian Beattie will take the reins for the Coloured Horses & Ponies In Hand section. Gillian has won many champion titles of her own including three times at the Royal Highland Show, and also runs her own riding school.
Former international event rider Nick Collins will judge the Hunter Under Saddle Weights and Smalls Ride. With 12 years of judging experience, Nick has judged across many prestigious shows including the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Royal Norfolk Show, HOYS, Royal International Horse Show and Royal Bath & West.
Jo Jefferson will be lending her extensive expertise to judging the Side Saddle class. With over 40 years of judging experience, Jo has been a member of the Side Saddle Association since its creation in 1974 and has judged around the world including in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. She was champion side saddle rider of the year and has also been featured in several films riding side saddle, including Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust.
The Retraining of Racehorses class Ride section will be judged by Rebecca Abba, who has over 20 years of experience judging at HOYS, the Royal Highland Show and many county shows. A regular on the showing circuit, with winners across many major shows, she now focuses on successfully competing her children’s ponies.
RHASS Head of Show, David Tennant commented: “We are delighted to invite such a varied roster of judges to lend us their expertise at the 2024 Royal Highland Show. Having honed their skills at shows across the UK and around the world, they truly are the best of the best and we are honoured to be welcoming them next year.
“Things are already shaping up for a brilliant Show next year and the team can’t wait to see our competitors and judges in action.”
Livestock entries will open in early April when the schedule of competitions will also be released.
For further information and to purchase tickets please visit www.royalhighlandshow.org.