An eight-month-old Limousin steer sold for a sale record of 1600c/kg to return at $4960 during the Glen Innes Potential Show Steer and Heifer sale on Monday.
Queensland show steer enthusiast Charlie Foote was joined by fitter Matt O'Dwyer to secure the 310 kilogram steer in the hopes of achieving Mr Foote's lifetime dream of winning a steer championship at the Royal Queensland Show in August.
The Colin Say and Co organised sale attracted fitters, schools and breeders from Queensland and NSW with all 29 lots sold to average 729c/kg, up from a 644c/kg average during last year's event when the previous record top of 1380c/kg was reached.
Before he even went under the hammer the Limousin steer, exhibited by the five grandchildren of Wallabadah breeder Col McGilchrist, had been handed multiple accolades.
Judge Bryce Whale couldn't look past the steer for the $500 grand champion title and best Limousin infused exhibit while those in attendance agreed and voted him the $200 people's choice award winner.
The twin calf was by a homebred Back Creek Limousin bull and out of a Mandayne Limousin female owned by Zoe and Ruby McGilchrist, 12, Fergus McGilchrist, 9, Tex McGilchrist, 7, and Abbey McGilchrist, 3.
The steer was weaned early and put onto a ration and had been tied up on a couple of occasions. He was a half brother to a black Limousin steer, Black Gold, purchased by Queensland's Travis Luscombe in 2016 who went on to claim champion at the Darling Downs Beef Expo and North Coast National Show in Lismore.
Vendor Col McGilchrist said they had destocked to about 22 breeders due to the past dry seasons and regularly offloaded their calves onto the show circuit by partnering with schools or show fitters.
"He was a good steer but I was surprised he got champion," he said.
"And then when he did, I thought he might have got $10/kg. The secret is Limousin.
"The days of those really hard muscled ones are gone because you can't finish them. He has probably got a couple millimetres fat on him already."
The steer will be prepared by the Darling Downs based O'Dwyer brothers and may attend the Toowoomba Show and FarmFest before his Ekka appearance.
Mr Foote, a former butcher himself, had been buying show steers for 20 years or more and previously had a steer place fifth out of a 50 head class in Brisbane.
While his budget was 1500c/kg, they both agreed he was the best type of calf on the day and would fatten nicely for Ekka.
Just last year Mr Foote was in intensive care battling pneumonia but didn't let it stop him from finally securing a purchase from the sale after being a previous underbidder.
"I have to win the big ribbon to get my money back," Mr Foote said.
"He should be about 550 kilograms by the time he gets to the Ekka and if he makes $10 or $12 at auction, I'll get my money back. If he knocks a couple (of wins off) on the way through, we might be up."
Judge Bryce Whale commended the quality offering and said he was looking for young, fresh cattle when placing the cattle.
"We all appreciate a good steer whether it's black, blue or brindle," he said.
"None of us make any money out of it and I'm sure a lot of you aren't going to make any money out of these steers today but you are going to have a lot of fun and a lot of enjoyment doing it and the odd one that wins and picks up a big prize somewhere, that really does make it worth while."
Ossification and distribution were important criteria in selecting a show champion for both the hoof and hook sections. A winning steer needed to be balanced, and not extreme, he said.
His champion was described as one of the more forward calves in the competition who had tremendous thickness over the top, adequate hindquarter without being extreme, all while being soft and easy doing.
While some commented on their dislike to his pop tail, Mr Whale lived by the guidance of a former Ekka steer champion exhibitor who believed "a tail that looked like it had been slammed on as an after thought meant there was plenty of carcase underneath".
"If I was feeding that calf I wouldn't rush and charge onto feed 150 or 160 days out, he is a calf that you would probably do on 120 to 125 days feed," he said.
"Probably just nurse the calf for a little while, keep him ticking and then let him go at the end.
"If you have got to adjust your calves you have got to try and adjust the feed of your calves at the start rather than at the end. If you start mucking around with changing your feeding regimes at the end of your program you are likely to stuff up your eating quality."
The reserve champion steer was awarded to Don and Sarah Riley, Coonabarabran, who made a return to the sale for the first time in about five years.
Their 335 kilogram Limousin cross steer sold for 850c/kg to return $2847 for Toowoomba buyer Travis Luscombe.
The third place heifer, a 265 kilogram Murray Grey cross, on behalf of B.P Grogan sold for 720c/kg ($1908) to D and T Show Steers.
In fourth place was a 275 kilogram Limousin cross heifer from the Rileys which attracted 680c/kg ($1870) and was purchased by Kempsey High School.
The fifth place 205 kilogram Limousin steer from Nigel and Casey Wieck, Delungra, made 1000c/kg ($2050) and was going home with Mr Luscombe.
It was a sweet reward for the Wiecks who were forced to wean their Charolais and Limousin calves from just three days old in a bid to retain their 50 head breeder herd.
"They are our bucket babies," Mr Wieck said.
"They had three days on mum and then we hand raised them. It was a lot of man hours. They were on a milk bucket and Riverina calf pellets and then Riverina 14 per cent ration."
Mr Wieck said the rest of their weaners were still at home and they would wait to see what the market did before potentially offloading them into the weaner sales.
"The market has got to be as good as it can to make a return on them," he said.
In other strong results; a 260 kilogram Limousin steer fromf Tyson Will who was a half brother to last year's Ekka carcase champion sold for 960c/kg ($2496) to Stacey Hillier, Maryborough, Queensland.
Mr Will also sold a 150 kilogram Limousin heifer for 960c/kg ($1440) to Clayton and Matt Porter, Merriwa.
The volume school buyer was Kempsey High School with four purchases while Travis Luscombe also secured four head.
The sale was conducted by Colin Say and Co with Shad Bailey as auctioneer.