A damp start to both days failed to keep visitors away from the 59th British National Ploughing Championships, held at Soham, near Ely, Cambridgshire on Saturday and Sunday, October 10th and 11th.
Simon Witty (l) and Colin Bowen (r)
A crowd of just over 14,000 saw ex-World Champion, Simon Witty take the title of British National Conventional Ploughing Champion and Colin Bowen take the Reversible title.
Simon Witty, from Hunmanby, near Filey, North Yorkshire, clinched the title with 232 points, just one point ahead of his brother James Witty, himself a past World Champion. This is the fifth time Simon has won the Championships. Third place went to Nigel Vickers from Whitchurch in Shropshire. All three ploughed with a Ford tractor and Kverneland plough.
In the reversible championship, Colin Bowen from Clun, near Craven Arms, Shropshire ploughed with a New Holland and Kverneland combination and cruised to victory with a massive 41 point lead from last years Champion, Peter Alderslade from East Bolden, Tyne & Wear. Third place went to Colin's son, 17-year old Steven Bowen, who was competing in the final for the first time.
Simon Witty and Colin Bowen will now represent England at the 2010 World Ploughing Contest in New Zealand next April. While Peter Alderslade and Steven Bowen will plough for England in the 2010 European Reversible Ploughing Championships in the Republic of Ireland.
Ploughing conditions were far from ideal - the land had been extremely dry, and although rain earlier in the week had made it just a little easier, it was still tough for the competitors. The land used for horse and vintage ploughing had to be irrigated beforehand.
In the National Young Farmers' classes, the reversible title went this year to Ian Brewer from Wadebridge, Cornwall; the conventional title went to Donald Tonkin from Cheriton Fitzpaine Devon; and the vintage title went to the Championships' only lady plougher, 19 year old Debbie Watson from Hallington, near Newcastle upon Tyne. The overall National Young Farmers' Champion Ploughman title went to Donald Tonkin.
In the horse ploughing classes, James Elliott from Beamish, Co Durham beat the opposition to earn the title of Champion Horse Ploughman. His aggregate points for the two days of the competition put the result well out of reach of all the other competitors.
The 2009 National Vintage Champion Ploughman is Richard Ingram who fought his way through the regional qualifying rounds in order to win a place in the National Finals. He clinched the title by winning the vintage hydraylic ploughing class on the second day. The vintage trailing ploughing class was won by Michael Watkins from Sandbeck, South Yorkshire and the classic ploughing class was won by Michael Holloway from Montgomery, Powys. Richard Ingram and Michael Watkins will represent England in the European Vintage Ploughing Championships in Scotland next October.
Speaking after the event Ken Chappell, Executive Director of The Society of Ploughmen, and the Championships' organiser, said, "We are delighted to have another excellent weekend. Everything went very smoothly - it's an excellent site and we are indebted to our hosts, Mr and Mrs Eric Day who made us so welcome.
"We are also extremely grateful for the unstinting support that we have received from our main sponsors Firestone and Goodyear, and everyone else who has supported our Society and the event this year."
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