RIGA Angus principal Ian Finger, Mansfield, said it was a shock to be named this year's RASV Heifer Challenge champion.
Mr Finger and wife Vera said the challenge was a great opportunity to get recognition for what they aimed to achieve.
"Our focus is primarily functionality, which embraces structure followed by the pleasing phenotypic characteristics, then the addition of genetic measurement as suggested by the EBV and where possible a look at 50K DNA SNP results," Mrs Finger said.
"We focus on sustainability and staying power of the animal – it has to survive in a commercial environment.
"That is what has translated into those winning 10 heifers."
The champion pen included progeny from Te Mania Africa, BTMA217 and Sitz New Design 458N out of Riga dams.
Mrs Finger referred to the dams of the heifers as the "drought survivors", who were able to tick all the performance boxes in tough times.
"We are particular about what we do and appraise all the females at least on an annual basis and we are constantly looking at cattle while they are in the yards," she said.
"The female side of the pedigrees can be traced back to generations of functional females with some old "R" and "K" females in the second and third generation.
"The longevity in these pedigrees provides a built-in insurance policy that gives an added element of flexibility in an operation when exposed to the many external variables, the obvious being the extremes in environment and climate that the animal may be required to function in."
Children Kate, 20 and Tim, 17, were also involved in the stud, and Mrs Finger said they could be more critical then their parents.
"Just recently Tim and I attended the Angus Australia structural assessment school and we really had to sharpen up our skills of assessment, which was great," she said.
Heifer challenge judges Ian Blades and Ross Munro, both from Tasmania, judged 69 pens of heifers during the eight days of Beef Week, working on a points system.
Pens were given a score out of 25 for presentation and physical correctness, while 10 points each were given for breed characteristics, maternal qualities, feet and legs, uniformity and temperament.
Mr Munro said the champion pen was outstanding with good length, thickness, temperament and legs and feet, along with being totally uniform.
The reserve gong went to Pat, Helen, James and Nicki Pearce, Yavenvale Herefords, Adelong, NSW, who were also finalists in the competition last year.
"The other pleasing part was that we had a range of sires and family lines represented; they weren't all from one sire or cow flush," Mr Munro said.
"This means a genetic variation while keeping the consistent type."