The stage is now set for the biggest event on the Ulster agricultural calendar. Record entries have been received in practically all sections while every last square inch of trade space has long since been snapped up.
For the Royal Ulster Society, now in the second year of its second century, it will be a bumper year and a record prize fund of nearly £7,000 will be available for competition.
Cattle entries have jumped to 410 this year, the sheep and pig breeders will be out in force while the horse section has shown one of the biggest percentage increases for any year.
Total entries in the horse section have soared to 645 as against 584 last year. More than 160 entries have been registered for the sheep classes while the pig section has attracted a total of 150.
Entries, too, for the bacon carcase competition have been showing an upward trend in recent years – next week there is a total of 96 carcases to be judged compared with 71 last May.
The poultry fancy at this year’s event will, as usual, be well represented. Entries for the poultry section – one of the largest in any British Isles show – have reached the 1,100 mark. And goat classes have made a comeback after a lapse of 30 years!
Balmoral’s reputation as the “shop window” for Ulster’s top cattle will be enhanced even further this year. Entries in the Aberdeen-Angus, Galloway, Hereford, Ayrshire, Friesian and Jersey classes have shot upwards.
The Hereford breed will be particularly strong at the “Royal Ulster” this year. Seventy-eight entries have been received – up 49 on last year – while the Friesian section, always a big attraction, has the grand total of 129 entries, an increase of 36 on the previous year.
The cream of Ulster’s sheep breeders will, once again, be vieing for the top honours. The Suffolk, Border Leicester and Blackface breeds are enjoying one of their best ever years.