THE top award in the Merino ring has eluded one of Wagin Woolorama's longest serving exhibitors the Patterson family, Woolkabin stud, Woodanilling for more than 40 years.
But that all changed last week when an upstanding Poll Merino ram from the stud shone through in the judging to be sashed the supreme Merino exhibit at this year's Make Smoking History Wagin Woolorama.
When the judging started the race to take out the coveted supreme award was wide open, with many quality rams and ewes in the Merino shed and there was no talk of any clear favourites.
As they worked their way through the classes the judges had their work cut out for them, sorting through the more than 200 rams and ewes from 29 studs to find their supreme champion.
Eventually they narrowed the field down to four outstanding sheep for the top award at the end of the day, but they still had a hard task separating the four.
When they finally got down to the finer points it was the Poll Merino sire from the Patterson families' Woolkabin stud, which stood head and shoulders above the rest and took home the supreme ribbon after getting the judges' nod in a unanimous decision.
As the supreme ribbon was finally draped across the back of the outstanding sire it meant a new stud name would be added to the Woolorama supreme honour roll and Woolkabin's supreme drought at the event was broken.
When the stud was announced the winner it was celebrations all round for stud principals and brothers Chris and Eric Patterson who said it was something they strived to win as a stud breeder and it was an award which had eluded them despite many years of showing at the event.
"Our father Elliott started showing in the very first Woolorama, so to finally win a supreme ribbon here, is very special to us," they said.
The unlucky exhibits to come up against the Woolkabin ram were the grand champion Merino ram and grand champion Merino ewe both exhibited by the St Quentin stud, Nyabing and the grand champion Poll Merino ewe from the Manunda stud, Tammin.
When the powerful Woolkabin ram was announced the winner, strong wool judge Daniel Gooding, East Mundalla stud, Tarin Rock, said all four sheep in the supreme line-up were impressive exhibits and deserved to be there for the day's final award but in the end the Woolkabin ram was a stand-out and the complete package.
"He is an oustanding ram but he is in some very good company," Mr Gooding said.
"He has tremendous bone and scale plus great carcase attributes.
"He also has a good soft muzzle and is structurally correct.
"But on top of this he is carrying a top, rich, well-nourished, long-stapled medium wool and there is heaps of it.
"His wool quality for his size and scale is exceptional and it is the type of wool that can go into a range of environments.
"He is a really productive sire and a pleasure to look at."
The upstanding sire had shown all day it was a star exhibit after it got through its class, for medium wool Poll Merino rams four tooth and over, the biggest on the day ahead of 22 other rams.
From here it went on to be sashed the champion medium wool Poll Merino ram and grand champion Poll Merino ram.
When it was sashed the champion medium wool Poll Merino ram, medium wool judge Jim Vandeleur, Rices Creek Poll Merino stud, Saddleworth, South Australia said it was the complete ram.
"He is a massive ram with good bone and conformation," Mr Vandeleur said.
"His wool is also a stand-out feature in terms of both quality and quantity.
"It is a bold crimping, rich wool and he has a huge wool cutting ability.
"He is a top sire with some really good dual-purpose traits."
The ET-bred, four-tooth ram was sired by a Strath-Haddon poll sire the Patterson family purchased for $9400 at the Strath-Haddon dispersal sale in 2014 and out of a Moorundie 100 blood ewe bred by the Woolkabin stud.
Standing in reserve to the Woolkabin ram in the Poll Merino ram judging and taking home the reserve grand champion Poll Merino ram sash was a classy sire from the Norrish families' Angenup stud, Kojonup.
Mr Gooding said the Angenup sire was the terrific all round package.
"He has a good barrel and front end plus a really good, well-nourished, bright, white medium wool," he said.
The four-tooth Angenup sire stood just behind Woolkabin's supreme exhibit all day after it placed second to it in their initial class and then was sashed the reserve champion medium wool Poll Merino ram behind it in the championship judging.
At this point Mr Vandeleur said the Angenup sire was very similar to the Woolkabin sire.
"He has good structure and size and like the Woolkabin sire he is carrying a top medium wool with good style and nourishment," Mr Vandeleur said.
"But in the end he just didn't quite have the thickness and cutting ability of the Woolkabin sire."
The upstanding sire was ET-bred by Angenup 53 and out of a Moorundie blood ewe from the stud.
In the Poll Merino ewe classes it was the Button family's Manunda stud which shone through, exhibiting both the grand champion and reserve grand champion Poll Merino ewes.
Taking home the purple grand champion ribbon for the stud was a big, upstanding strong wool ewe.
When it received its grand champion ribbon Mr Gooding said the ewe had terrific constitution and carcase attributes.
"She is a big ewe with width and length of body and she is also very good on her feet," he said.
"In terms of her wool she is carrying an extremely white, crimpy, nourished wool, which could go into any environment."
Prior to being sashed the grand champion the four-tooth ewe was sashed the champion strong wool Poll Merino ewe and won its class for four tooth and over strong wool Poll Merino ewes.
The ET-bred ewe is by Banavie 333, which was purchased by the Manunda stud for $60,000 in 2015 and out of a Haseley blood ewe.
When it came to the stud's reserve grand champion Poll Merino ewe Mr Gooding said the Manunda ewe was also a big ewe with top carcase traits.
"She has huge scale and covers a lot of ground," he said.
"She is also carrying a really good, safe, long-stapled medium wool."
The ewe's run to the top began when it won its initial class for four tooth and over medium wool Poll Merino ewes ahead of nine other ewes and from there it went on to be sashed the champion medium wool Poll Merino ewe.
At this point Mr Vandeleur said it was a massive ewe which covered a huge area.
"She is also very good in the wool," he said.
"For her size she has a very good rich, well-nourished fleece."
The four-tooth ewe was AI-bred and sired by Moorundie D347.
The stud's success in the Poll Merino ewe classes didn't stop here - it also exhibited the champion fine wool Poll Merino ewe.
Fine wool judge Andrew Rayner, Grathlyn stud, Mudgee, New South Wales, described this ewe as a big ewe with plenty of potential.
"In addition to her size she has a beautiful head and a soft muzzle plus a lot of good quality fine wool with plenty of style and whiteness all over," he said.
The four-tooth ewe, which was from a syndicate mating of the stud's Haseley blood maiden ewes, earned the right to the compete in the fine wool championship after winning first place in front of four other ewes in the four tooth and over fine wool Poll Merino ewe class.
In the superfine classes the King family's Rangeview stud, Darkan, exhibited both the champion superfine ram and ewe.
Mr Rayner said Rangeview's champion ram showed really good purity and carried a soft, bright, superfine fleece, while the champion ewe had good size and superfine wool traits.
Both the ram and the ewe were four-tooths.
The ram was sired by Avington Henry and the ewe was from a syndicate mating.
The stud also exhibited the reserve champion superfine Poll Merino ram which was also a four-tooth by Avington Henry.
Taking top honours in the fine wool Poll Merino ram section was the Quairading-based Merna stud.
Mr Rayner said the Merna sire was a big fine wool sire with great make and shape.
"In addition to his size and shape he also has a top quality fine wool from head to toe," Mr Rayner said.
The Merna ram, which is by Merna 92, earned the right to compete for the champion ribbon after winning its class for fine wool Poll Merino rams with four or more teeth in front of five other sires.
The reserve champion fine wool Poll Merino ram ribbon went to a two-tooth sire from the Warralea stud, Gairdner, which Mr Rayner said was good on its feet and legs with a good, rich wool.
The reserve champion fine wool Poll Merino ewe was exhibited by the Claypans stud, Corrigin, while the reserve champion medium wool Poll Merino ewe was from the Angenup stud.
In the strong wool Poll Merino ram classes it was a sire from the Belmont Park stud, Wagin, which took top honours and had the champion strong wool Poll Merino ram ribbon draped across its back.
Mr Gooding said the Belmont Park ram was a sirey ram with plenty of scale and a good long body.
"In addition to his size and scale, he also has a bright, white, long-stapled fleece and a really good, soft muzzle," Mr Gooding.
The AI-bred ram is by Boonoke 28.
Standing in reserve to the Belmont Park sire and taking home the reserve champion strong wool Poll Merino ram ribbon was a ram from the Woolkabin stud, which Mr Gooding said was a very productive ram with good conformation and a terrific nourished, white wool.
The Woolkabin ram was also by the Strath-Haddon sire which sired the stud's supreme exhibit.
The Belmont Park sire and the Woolkabin ram were in the championship after placing first and second respectively in their class for four tooth and over strong wool Poll Merino rams which attracted 10 entries.
The reserve champion strong wool Poll Merino ewe ribbon was awarded to a two-tooth ewe from the Seymour Park stud, Highbury.
Mr Gooding said it was a very good ewe with a highly productive skin, which was pumping out a huge quantity of wool.
"She also has a terrific length of body," he said.