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Looking back at day one of the Royal Welsh Show

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Rachael Garside Rachael Garside | 08:14 UK time, Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The first day at the Royal Welsh is drawing to a close and it's been an excellent start to the show.

I headed for the cattle lines first thing this morning where the mighty beef breeds were all being bathed and buffed to perfection. There was a deafening roar of hair dryers as competitors raced around wielding cans of hairspray, brushes and make-up - and its worth remembering that all this was for the cattle and not for themselves!

I spoke to an exhibitor who'd travelled down from Yorkshire: "I'm shaking like a leaf," he confessed as nerves got the better of him. I interviewed 23 year old Rhys Millichap from Tonyrefail who was entered in one of the first classes with his British Blue cattle - he'd brought with him a heifer called Davina and a four year old cow called Britney - great names!

Rhys saved up his birthday money when he was 16 to buy his first cow and has become something of an ambassador for the breed. I joined his parents ringside to see Rhys placed second with Britney. The nerves disappeared and he was grinning from ear to ear. A proud moment for the family.

All morning the 15 pedigree beef breeds competed to become breed champions, then this afternoon all individual champions went head to head to try and win the prestigious title of 'Beef Interbreed Champion'.

This year's winner was Du Mandy, a three year old heifer from the Ironstone herd, who'd travelled from Bloxham near Banbury all the way to Builth.

I also watched a brand new competition at the show - a 'Retraining the Racehorse' class, where former racehorses are retrained to become show horses. One of the competitors, Rachel Thomas from Bridgend, told me that so many racehorses end up being abandoned or neglected after their racing days are over and that having a competition like this at the Royal Welsh is a great way of raising their profile.

Then back to the cattle ring where I met Pat Tantrum who's clocked up an incredible 48 years there as a steward - he told me the Royal Welsh is always like a big birthday party and as the cattle paraded behind him, it struck me how amazing it is that all those huge beef animals can walk calmly around a show-ring. As Pat said, it's a credit to the stockmen and women who prepare and train these animals for months before the show, then lead them so professionally in front of the crowds.

The Welsh Black Cattle Society held a ceremony to open their new building overlooking the cattle ring. The building itself is really impressive - just a shame that the kitchen wasn't finished in time, so there was no opportunity to taste Welsh Black beef.

I have to say that it didn't feel quite so busy today as it usually is on the first day of the show, so I'll be interested to hear what the attendance figures are like. A bad forecast may have put people off, but I've been reliably informed that it's getting better from now on!

Back again for another day at the show tomorrow....


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