Welsh handler, Ceredigion’s Dewi Jenkins, who is currently producing some of the most sought-after and best-sold working sheep dogs in Britain, was again top dog on price at Skipton Auction Mart’s latest spring sale on Friday, May 17.
Mr Jenkins, also a well-known trialist who farms Welsh Mountain ewes and Welsh Black cattle at Tynygraig Farm, Tal-y-bont, Aberystwyth, claimed his highest-ever price at Skipton of 8,500gns (£8,925) with his 13-month-old red and white bitch, Graylees Rose.
Rose is by Michelle Anderson’s Red and was purchased as a youngster by Mr Jenkins from the Northumberland handler and trialist, who runs a Cheviot sheep flock on her 1,300-acre hill farm in Bellingham.
The dam is Glan y Gors Peg, owned by fellow Northumberland shepherdess, near neighbour and good friend, Emma Gray, the reigning English Nursery Champion, who farms at Harwood Forest, Morpeth.
Emma hit the headlines at Skipton’s previous fixture in February when establishing a new world record price for a working sheep dog bitch at an official sale of 14,000gns with her two-year-old tri-coloured bitch Brenna, sold to an American buyer.
At the same 2019 opener, Mr Jenkins, whose previous top price at Skipton for a dog was 8,100gns - achieved exactly a year earlier - made a combined 15,200gns for two well-bred bitches, itself thought to be a Skipton record for a brace of bitches sold at a single sale.
His latest 8,500gns dog, thought an excellent nursery prospect, found a new home in Scotland with John S Hastie, of Fife, a retired shepherd/stockman who still keeps a few sheep and will use Rose for both work and trial. Several lots later, he himself sold a June, 2016, black and white bitch, Jess, at 1,050gns.
Back with the sire of the Skipton top price, Michelle Anderson herself bought Red as a ten-week-old pup and trained him to become her first trials dog, winning an open novice trial and also with placings in open trials.
“He is now our main work dog, strong and powerful with a fantastic temperament. I’ve been running Red in the Northumberland League and he is very well-known in this part of the world. He’s standing at stud and has been registered as a stud dog with the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS). He can literally move mountains!” said Michelle.
Second top call of 6,400gns fell to a superbly bred young tri-coloured bitch from a first-time vendor at Skipton, David Murray, a Shetland Islands sheep farmer and trialist who had made a 14-hour boat trip, followed by a six-and-a-half-hour drive south to attend the UK’s leading sheep dog sales venue.
His eight-month-old Maid, who was placed fourth in her first nursery trial, is by twice Irish National Champion and 2016 Reserve Supreme Champion, James McLaughlin’s Dan, out of Seamus McManus’s Nell, whose own dam is Littledale-based Ricky Hutchinson's celebrated International Reserve Supreme Champion, Sweep.
Mr Murray has a flock of Shetland-Cheviot crosses and has won Scottish trials, as well as running in the Scottish National. Maid was keenly contested and returned north of the border with Ewen Macmillan, of Lurg Farm, Fintry, who was present in person on the day and successfully fought off strong competition from a US phone bidder.
“I had seen Maid on YouTube and needed a youngster to bring on,” explained Mr Macmillan, who will use his highly promising new acquisition as a work dog on his 800-strong flock of Scottish Blackface ewes.
Well-known Scottish breeder and familiar face at Skipton, Dean Aitken, from Lockerbie, was next best at 4,800gns with his young black and white bitch, Midge, due to turn three-years-old two days after the sale.
By his own Tweeddale Buzz, out of Bobby Dalziel’s Ruby, Midge ran in four of last year’s nurseries and was placed in all, also making reserve in the Dumfries and Kirkcudbright team at the finals. Midge fell to a telephone bidder who requested anonymity.
Another Welsh handler from Ceredigion, Tregaron’s Dan Rees, stepped up on past Skipton sale prices when achieving 4,300gns with his two-year-old black and white bitch, Kate, by Brendan McAllister's multiple trials winner, Spot, out of Michael Gallagher’s Templemoyle Hope. Kate returned to Wales with an unnamed buyer.
Again form Wales, another eye-catcher at 3,900gns late in the afternoon was K B Williams, of Bryn Melyn, Ffestiniog, with his well-bred December, 2017, black and white bitch, Cynfal Jill, by Aled Owen’s Welsh National and International Supreme Champion, Llangwm Cap, out of Mr Williams’ own Floss. The buyer was T Elliot, of Jedburgh.
Co Antrim’s Michael McAlister, of Glenariffe, an Irish vendor who regularly achieves rock-solid prices at Skipton, was on the mark yet again. He first made 2,000gns early on with a 12-month-old brown, white and mottled dog, Jinx, the fourth dog to take to the trials field, stepping up later with a 3,400gns sale of his January, 2018, tri-coloured bitch, Peg, by Pat Byrne’s Jim, out of P McQuillan’s Cindy, who returned to Ireland with Co Sligo’s Eugene Feeney.
Late in the day, a third young dog from former jump jockey Mr McAlister, the January, 2018, black and white bitch, Jess, made 1,400gns.
Also hitting 3,400gns was another Skipton stalwart, North Craven’s Shaun Richards, of Pen-y-Borough Sheepdogs in Eldroth, with his November, 2017, tri-coloured dog, Tweed, a grandson of Ricky Hutchinson’s Sweep.
By Jane Drinkwater’s own Sweep, out of E Hope’s Dot, Tweed found a new home high on the Cumbrian hills at Shap with Swaledale sheep and beef suckler cattle farmer, Richard Harrison, a winner of multiple open trials who is this year celebrating 40 years as a trialist.
Co Durham’s Jean Howes made 3,300gns with another promising 12-month-old tri-coloured dog, Bob, who she said has a tremendous nature and excellent nursery potential. By well-known Finnish handler Anja Lehtio’s Coel, out of Scottish breeder Sandy McCullock’s Risp, Bob sold to Red Rose trialing legend Jim Cropper, of Bacup.
As often, the headline performers In the unbroken pen were the Irish-based Byrne family – father Pat and this three sons, Micheal, Daire and Niall – from Ballyglass in Co Roscommon, who arrived with 12 youngsters and sold all but one of them for a combined 8,950gns.
All were fathered by Moss, acquired by Mr Byrne at the Skipton spring sale two years earlier from north Co Dublin’s Brian White and Aoife Smith for top call of 9,200gns. “Moss has been breeding superbly for me,” said Mr Byrne.
Two three-month-old dogs out of the same litter of Mr Byrne’s Grace, who is also the dam of the current Irish National Champion, made joint top call of 1,600gns. First up was the tri-coloured bitch, Penny, who fell to Skipton regular, Scotland’s Jock Sutherland, of Sangormore, Durness, buying on before of a fellow Scottish handler who asked not to be named.
Following up at the same money soon after was Nora, a black and white bitch, who fell to a regular buyer from Skipton’s unbroken pen, 19-year-old Shaun Procter, who farms sheep and cattle with his father Trevor at Great Musgrave, Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria. She will be used solely as a work dog.
Also hitting four figures for the Byrnes was their final entry and the last dog in the unbroken pen, the two-month-old Holly, who sold locally to the Walker family in Hartlington for 1,000gns.
Another strong performer in the unbroken pen at 1,400gns was a four-month-old black and white dog, Ron, from Welshman Andrew Green, of Carmarthen. By Derwen Doug, from top Welsh handler and triallist Kevin Evans, out of Preseli Queen, a full sister to Preseli Ci, winner of the 2016 Supreme International in the hands of Mr Evans, she joined a North Yorkshire buyer who requested no publicity.
Back on the trials field, there were again plentiful opportunities for potential buyers to pick from a good cross-section of readily affordable dogs for both work and trial.
A total of 20 dogs sold up to 1,500gns, with 15 more making 1,600-2,000gns and a further 20 selling at between 2,100gns and 3,000gns.
One that looked particularly appealing at the money was a two-year-old black and white dog, Chip, from Northern Ireland’s Padraig Doherty, of Ardagh Sheepdogs in Co Donegal. He is a full brother to Cap from a previous litter, who set the working sheep dog community alight when sold by Mr Doherty at Skipton in May, 2016, for a new world record price at an official sale of 14,100gns – it stands to this day.
By Seth, also known as Sid, from fellow Co Donegal trialist James Gee, out of the Doherty family’s Sue, whose own sire, Dan is a former Irish National champion and “One Man and His Dog” winner, Chip was claimed for 2,500gns by Leyburn-based Beltex sheep aficionado Martin Brown.
The spring sale attracted another solid turnout of 137 dogs – 96 field-run dogs and 41 in the unbroken pen. Craven Cattle Marts’ general manager and auctioneer Jeremy Eaton said there were plenty of opportunities for purchasers to acquire both respectable field-run dogs at 1,500-2,000gns and promising youngsters in the unbroken to bring on to run in trials.
Prices and averages: Broken dogs – 24 registered dogs from 600gns to 3,400gns (average £2,067), 32 registered bitches from 400gns to 8,500gns (average £2,302), 5 unregistered bitches from 600gns to 2,050gns (£1,187). Part/unbroken dogs – 19 registered dogs from 250gns to 1,400gns (average £525), 16 registered bitches from 200gns to 1,600gns (average £677).
Skipton’s next working sheep dog sale is the summer fixture on Friday, July 5.
Entries close on June 21.