A 4,700gns (£4,935) top call for a broken dog and a 2,000gns (£2,100) new record high for a youngster sold in the unbroken pup pen were the dual highlights of another highly successful working sheep dog sale, the annual winter and opening 2017 fixture at Skipton Auction Mart on Friday, February 24.
Ireland’s William Gallagher, of Bavin, Kilcar, Co Donegal, a top performer on the trials circuit – he has represented Ireland at international level on three occasions - finished top dog on price with his September, 2015-born smooth-coated, prick-eared black and white dog, Rock, fully bred in Co Donegal. The dam is Creeslough-based Lorcán McDaid’s Jill, a first-class mountain dog better known at home as Violet, while the sire is his brother Peter’s Elwy Eric.
It had proved an interesting journey for Rock. As a young pup, he travelled to the International in Moffit, Scotland, where he was due to be sold to a Scottish farmer. When the journey had been made, contact could not be made with the prospective purchaser, so Rock was returning home when the man travelling with Peter, Ciaran McFadden, of Falcarragh, Co Donegal, bought the pup from Lorcán. It was Ciaran who then broke and trained the dog and sold it onto William Gallagher, who furthered his training.
Rock proved rock solid at the Skipton ringside when falling to regular buyer, renowned handler and Welsh triallist Nigel Watkins, of Panthowell, Llanoldewsant, Llangadog, who will retain his new charge as a promising trials prospect.
“He’s my type of dog,” he said afterwards.
It was the second successive sale that Mr Watkins had paid top price at Skipton. He reported that his October, 2016, 5,800gns purchase Llangwm Jen had thrived at home and was now being aimed at this year’s European Nursery Championships in Holland.
A superbly bred eight-month-old black and white dog, Solo, from Cotswolds farm manager Dick Roper, the reigning One Man and His Dog champion and International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) English national president, set the unbroken pen alight when achieving 2,000gns, beating Skipton’s previous record of 1,850gns set in July, 2015, for a six-month-old Irish-bred youngster.
Already working well at hand, the fully home-bred Solo, the first dog ever sold at auction by Mr Roper, was one of eight litter pups to his own Spot, the 2015 National Champion, out of Emma, who is a daughter of Littledale-based Ricky Hutchinson’s Reserve Supreme Champion, Sweep. Emma’s own dam was Supreme International Champion, Brownlie Mo.
Solo is also a half brother to Mr Roper’s One Man and His Dog winner, Will.
“He has superb breeding over six generations, among them many high profile trials winners. He’s a proper working dog,” said Mr Roper, who is farm manager on the Wills Estate in Northleach, Gloucestershire, where this year’s International Trials are due to be staged on September 8, 9 and 10.
Solo was knocked down to a telephone bidder from the Shetland Isles, crofter Sandy Fraser, of Gardens Culswick, who breeds pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle and traditional Shetland sheep. He also works as a landscape gardener and trials locally.
“I am very pleased with the dog. He has a lovely nature and has settled in well. “I bought him for both trialling and breeding because I like the bloodlines,” said Mr Fraser.
Flying the flag for Wales was Ceredigion’s Dewi Jenkins, from Tynygraig Farm, Tal-y-bont, Aberystwyth, who achieved the day’s second top prices in both the broken and unbroken sections with sales at 4,000gns and 1,150gns with two closely related bitches.
The former, a 14-month-old black and white bitch, Jill, is a product of Welsh breeding being, by IB Jones’ Tim, out of SK Jones’ Mist. Acquired as an eight-week-old pup, then fully trained by Mr Jenkins, who farms Welsh Mountain ewes and Welsh Black cattle, Jill became the top price bitch when purchased by another familiar face at Skipton from the Scottish Highlands, Jock Sutherland, of Sangormore, Durness. He was buying the dog on behalf of an anonymous customer from Shetland.
Jill’s sire is also the grandfather of Mr Jenkins’ five-months-old 1,150gns pup, Jess, a black and white bitch by fellow Welshman, Henry Hughes’ Glen, out of the breeder’s own Tanhill Liz, who qualified for the All Wales Nursery Final in 2015. The youngster found a new home in Wales with a buyer from Powys.
Weardale’s John Bell, of Frosterley, did well with his wife Dorothy’s December, 2015, black and white dog, Jed, another quality son of Ricky Hutchinson’s Sweep, out of GS Watson’s Fly. The promising nursery trials prospect made 3,600gns when joining a buyer from Co Durham.
Making her first-ever visit to Skipton, Angie Blackmore, of Ledbury in Herefordshire – she farms Welsh Cheviots and is also a director of the ISDS - netted 5,550gns in total with two quality bitches.
First up at 3,000gns was Malta Snip, an October, 2015, tri-coloured bitch bred in Northern Ireland by Carlaine Thom. She runs Malta Border Collies in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
The buyer was Jim Walker, of Saddle End Farms in Chipping, Preston, who was replacing a much loved dog he had lost, which he also bought at Skipton some seven years earlier.
“She was a tremendous dog and Snip looks just the same. Dogs like these are worth their weight in gold,” said Mr Walker.
While now 86-years-young, he continues to pursue an active involvement on the family farm with his son-in-law Richard Alpe. They have a flock of 1,100 Swaledale ewes, which are used to breed Mules, along with a herd of 35 Blonde-cross-British Blue suckler cows. Snip could well prove a cut above as she is put to work on them.
Miss Blackmore returned to the trials field late in the day to achieve 2,550gns with her July, 2014, black and white bitch, Fly, a well-bred daughter of Dick Roper’s 2015 National Champion, Spot, out of R Jones’ Roy. She fell to a local buyer, David White, who farms Swaledale ewes and also keeps a few Mules in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. It was the second Angie Blackmore bitch he had bought at Skipton. The first, Magz, was acquired in 2005 and is still doing her bit on the farm at the age of 14.
Another Irishman, County Londonderry’s Lochlan Conn, of Magilligan, whose teenage daughter Shannon was the 2015 Irish Junior Champion, came forward with a well-bred three-year-old black and white bitch, Kim, who, like the same day’s top price Rock, was out of L McDaid’s Jill (Violet) by P McDaid’s Elwy Eric. The promising all-rounder sold for 3,300gns to a buyer from Derbyshire.
Another three-year-old black and white dog, Irtlands Jack, from local vendor William Bell, of Foulridge, arrived with a good record in nursery trials. Fully bred by M Cottam, by his Ant out of Irlands Tess, he fell for a bid of 3,000gns when joining another Scottish buyer, Craig Davidson, of Dunoon in Argyle, and will be put to work on the family’s Scottish Blackface flock.
A further young broken dog to create interest after a tidy field trial before selling for 2,000gns was the 14-month-old black and white Glen, from Scottish West Highlands handler James Weir, who was again making the 600-mile round trip from Appin in Argyle.
Glen is by Mr Weir’s own Sweep, himself a son of Boredale Gus, bred by former Scottish National champion Ian Brownlie, out of Floss, acquired at Skipton five years ago by Mr Weir, who is also chairman of Appin Agricultural Show committee. The dog found a new home in North Wales with John Jones, of Gwynned, who, while semi-retired, keeps a small Texel flock and also trials. Glen will be used for both work and trial.
A good number of other dogs selling from 2,000gns were:
2,900gns – Dan, May, 2014, black and white dog from M Simpson, Cardonagh, Co Donegal.
2,800gns – Jess, November, 2013, black and white bitch from Shaun Richards, Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs, Eldroth.
2,700gns – Bill, April, 2015, black and white dog from Michael McAlister, Glenariffe, Co Antrim.
2,600gns – Gwydr Gill, November, 2013, black and white bitch from EW Edwards, Ruthin, Wales.
2,600gns – Garth Rob, November 2015, tri-coloured dog from John Bell, Howden, Selby, North Yorlshire.
2.400gns – Bob, October, 2015, black and white dog from Roy Canning, Keighley, West Yorkshire.
2,300gns – Gus, November, 2013, black and white dog Gus from JD McAllister, County Antrim.
2,250gns – Soot, November, 2014, tri-coloured bitch from Gus Dermody, Nantwich, Cheshire.
2,000gns – Kilcreen Blue, February, 2014 black and white dog from David Lyttle, Pettigo, Co Donegal.
2,000gns – Kerri, August, 2015, tri-coloured bitch from William Gallagher’s son Liam, Kilcar, Co Donegal.
2,000gns – Flo, April, 2014, black and white bitch from M O’Malley, Achill, Co Mayo.
The sale once again attracted a strong entry, with 78 successful sales producing a clearance rate of 87% for field-run dogs and 71% clearance in the unbroken pen.
“Trade was solid throughout for a February sale just ahead of lambing time, with the first 16 field-run dogs all selling away successfully and buyers for all classes of dogs.
“There was a good attendance and we were lucky with the weather on a beautiful Spring day. It’s always good to hear the different accents around the rings and heartening to see the effort people make and the miles they travel to attend the sale,” said Craven Cattle Marts general manager Jeremy Eaton.
Prices and averages: Broken section: 30 registered dogs from 600gns to 4,700gns (average £1,955), 17 registered bitches from 850gns to 4,000gns (average £2,233), 1 unregistered bitch at 320gns unbroken section: 10 registered dogs from 80gns to 2,000gns (average £634), 20 registered bitches from 200gns to 1,150gns (average £613).
Future seasonal working sheep dog sales at Skipton throughout this year take place on Fridays, May 12, July 21 and October 13.