OVER the past decade, Kentucky-based Merino stud Maister's Swamp has become a staple of the Sydney Royal Easter Show's fleece competition.
So much so that leading into this year's show the Watson family had put its name on the Thomas Farquhar Hodgson Memorial Perpetual Trophy for most successful Merino fleece exhibitor nine times in 14 appearances in Sydney.
This year's show proved to be a special one for the family as it not only added a 10th trophy to its collection, but also claimed the champion housed or rugged Merino ram fleece and the medallion for commercial value Merino fleece, skirted to industry standards, for the first time.
"It was the first time we had a housed-ram fleece to enter and to win is really prestigious to us because it is a competition that has been won by so many of the great fine, superfine and ultrafine studs," stud principal David Watson said.
"The fleece came off a ram that went to the Armidale show, he's by Codo out of Greenland bloodlines and he cut 12.1kg, which is huge for a 16.1 ram.
"He got wet in the shed, which is why we decided to shear him and not bring him to Sydney and he came back at 7.5kg skirted, but we had to take about 1kg off of the wet area."
Maister's Swamp entered 17 fleeces in this year's competition, which attracted far more entries than at last year's show.
"The ewe fleece that won the medallion was about 8kg skirted, which was amazing," Mr Watson said.
"What is really pleasing from my point of view is that winning both shows that we can get that weight with a housed fleece, but the weight is also there with a fleece from the paddock as well.
"A micron of about 18 to go with about 8kg is a pretty good return as far as we're concerned."
Mr Watson said this year's bumper results had wet the appetite for more competition at next year's Royal.
"We're honestly stoked with this year's results," he said.
"To win the trophy 10 times in the 200 years of the Sydney Royal is really prestigious in our eyes and given we've only been entering for 14 years, we're over the moon with the results.
"I think those kinds of results show that we are pretty consistent and while some people may point out that we enter a lot of fleeces, they still have to be pretty good to win at this level."
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