Balmoral Show: Winning shearers cut opponents down to size
Sheep shearers from 15 countries were flexing their muscles to great effect at this year's Balmoral Show.
Over the three days 1,800 hogget lambs received a short back and sides. And it was all over in a heartbeat.
Once the senior experts got going, the fleeces were off – in one piece – within a minute.
Adding to the atmosphere in the Shearing Pavilion on the final day was the 1,000-strong crowd in attendance for every session.
"This has been our best series of shearing competitions at Balmoral yet," senior judge Walter Hoy told the Belfast Telegraph.
"Adding to the atmosphere has been the competitors attending from New Zealand, Australia, Norway, France and, of course, all of the home countries.
One of the reasons why Balmoral has proven so popular with the world's elite shearers is the fact that next week will see Ireland host the World Shearing competitions.
That event is due to take place in Co Wexford.
"We have been co-operating fully with the organisers of the Golden Shears event," Mr Hoy continued.
"It has been a great honour to have so many of the world's top shearers in Northern Ireland. Shearing is a truly skilful sport and it's not all about speed.
"The quality of the fleece taken from the lamb is also taken into consideration by the judges."
There was a time when New Zealand and Australia dominated the world of competitive sheep shearing.
But no more! The current world record holder is Ivan Scott, who hails from Letterkenny in Co Donegal.
And he has been demonstrating his undoubted talent to tremendous crowds at this year's Balmoral Show.
Ivan is the first shearer from the northern hemisphere to reach the pinnacle of the sport and he fully intends to maintain his number one rating for many years to come. In setting a new world record back in January 2011, Ivan successfully sheared 744 lambs in 8 hours.
"I can shear a lamb in about 50 seconds," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We were raised with sheep at home and I was always fascinated by the skill of the men who would shear our own flock during the summer months. And the fact that we had 300 ewes meant that there was always plenty of sheep to practise on."