Supreme title win set Sir Winston up

WA's Sir Winston an influential Poll Merino sire

Wool
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The Garnett family's Sir Winston was special because he "fired wherever he went".

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SUPREME: Sir Winston in 2002 when he won Australian supreme Merino ram at the Dubbo, NSW, sheep show.

SUPREME: Sir Winston in 2002 when he won Australian supreme Merino ram at the Dubbo, NSW, sheep show.

The breeder of one of the country's most influential Poll Merino sires says "ribbons sell semen" and that was exactly what a national title win did for Sir Winston.

Winston was bred by the Garnett family of Willemenup Poll Merino stud at Gnowangerup, WA, in March 2000.

In 2002, the ram was awarded Australian supreme Merino ram at the Dubbo, NSW, sheep show.

Dick Garnett said this accolade was what set Winston up for success.

"A sheep has got to be seen to be appreciated," Mr Garnett said.

And appreciated he was.

Dick's son Collyn Garnett said approximately 3000 doses of Winston's semen were sold across the country and overseas.

He said semen was sold into every state in Australia, except the Northern Territory.

Semen was also sold to Nevada in the United States, New Zealand a few times and more recently, Argentina.

He agreed that showring success translated to ram and semen sales and said after the 2002 win, "sales just went through the roof".

Winston's fleece measured 18.9 micron, 2.9 standard deviation, 15.3 per cent co-efficient of variation, 99.8pc comfort factor and 77.8pc yield.

Dick Garnett said he was a "micron reducer", which at the time was a desirable trait.

"We needed some of those big, bold microns in the industry," he said.

But he said the special thing about Winston was his ability "to fire everywhere he went".

"Some will only fire on a certain type of ewe or a certain bloodline, but Winston fired and bred champions wherever he was used," he said.

He said Winston was in the top group from day one.

"We don't select and pamper our young sheep, we let them do their own thing and go up the ranks," he said.

"But you keep your eye on various ones and most of the time they come to the fore.

"It wasn't until we started getting him into the showring that we really started to appreciate his merits."

Reflecting on Winston's national win, Mr Garnett said the hardest part wasn't battling against the other states at Dubbo, but qualifying to represent WA against other local competitors.

"That year there were four or five other rams that could have achieved the same result," he said.

But the stud wasn't new to glory on a national scale, having taken out the same title the year before with a different ram.

That was the first time a WA ram was entered into the competition, and therefore the first time a WA ram won the title.

It was also the first year a Poll Merino ram won the title, and after the win the following year, was the first time a stud had one in back-to-back years.

Mr Garnett said Winston, who was bred from an $80,000 Moorundie Park Poll Merino ram, was an intelligent, proud sheep.

He recalled two occasions where he was being assessed on the showfloor and as soon as the judge stepped back to get a proper look, he stretched himself right out.

"He knew exactly what to do," he said.

After seeing Winston at Dubbo, One Oak Poll Merino stud principal Alistair Wells, Narrandera, NSW, purchased semen.

Mr Wells said Winston's best attribute was his ability to "be repeatable".

"Some sheep have an impact because they have something extreme and can offer fast change, and some are just so good that they breed more and more of that same style of stock," he said.

He said Winston was exactly what they needed at the time.

"He was able to whiten our wool and better our comfort factor, on a sheep that had a very good carcase," he said.

"He bred really safe sheep."

After a successful run, Winston passed away at the young age of six years old.

Last year the Garnetts sold the stud to instead focus on a commercial operation.

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