While Howden’s John Bell was again top dog with a 5,000gns sale, it was the pup pen that proved the real eyecatcher at Skipton Auction Mart’s Summer working sheepdogs sale, setting a new record price for the venue.
With the very last entry of the day, Irish brothers Padraig and Joe Doherty, of Ardagh Sheepdogs in County Donegal, set the unbroken pen alight with a six-month-old black and white bitch, Ann, which made 1,850gns, the highest-ever price paid for a Skipton-sold pup.
Her sire, Sid, again bred in Donegal by trialling legend James McGee, was also responsible for Silver, the youngest-ever International Trials champion, while Ann’s dam is the Doherty family’s Sue, whose own sire, Dan, is a half brother to Mr McGee’s 2011 World Sheep Dog Trials supreme champion, Becca.
Ann sold for to Cumbria sheep and cattle farmer Trevor Procter, of Great Musgrave, Kirkby Stephen, and will be used solely as a work dog.
The Doherty brothers arrived with a six-strong hand, among them four top-notch youngsters all from the same litter, which proved in ready demand. As well as the top price performer, they also sold a brace of black and white dog pups for 1,450gns and 1,020gns to buyers from South Wales and Cumbria respectively, along with a second bitch pup at 850gns.
On the broken dog trials field, Padraig Doherty again performed well with the April, 2014, Moss, also out of Sue, though from a previous litter, by Dan, bred by County Donegal’s James McClaughlin, the 2014 One Man and His Dog winner and 2013 Irish National champion. Moss was knocked down for 2,800gns to a regular buyer from Wales.
The Doherty brothers’ father, renowned dog man and long-standing International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) member PJ Doherty, who has been trialling in Ireland since he was a teenager – he is now 64 – said his sons were delighted with the outcome of their latest visit to Skipton.
Another Irishman, Pat Byrne, of Knockcroghery in County Roscommon, was also well represented in the pup pen and his leading performer at 1,320gns was a fully home-bred March-born black and white bitch, Jenny, by his top-class farm dog, Lad, out of a proven breeding bitch, Jan.
Jenny fell to Skipton regular Joe McRobert, of Cheviot Sheepdogs at Fingland, near Biggar, in Lanarkshire, who was buying the pup on behalf of fellow Scottish handler, sheep farmer and triallist Colin Armstrong in Mofatt, Dumfries & Galloway.
Mr Byrne arrived with ten pups in all, the majority by Lad, with seven finding new homes, also among them the January-born tri-coloured Bill, who made 670gns.
Pups – the new sales format is now attracting some really top quality well-bred youngsters - were also on parade at the onset of the day’s proceedings, when the early pace was set by well-known local breeder and handler, Carol Mellin, of Moor Lodge Farm, Oakworth, with her home-bred January-born black and white dog, Moor Lodge Max, by Mirk, with whom Carol won the Yorkshire Open Championship at Trawden in May this year.
Mirk, a familiar face at Skipton as the on-field sheep gathering dog and also used by Carol in her duck round-up demonstrations, is out of Maisie, who qualified for both the International and World Sheep Dog Trials for her handler in 2011, a path closely followed by ITV’s popular “The Dales” programme.
Max’s dam, Becca, was acquired by Carol last November because she resembled Maisie and was a stylish worker, and produced her first litter in January. She, too, is said to have trials potential.
Max found a new home in Kirklees with husband and wife sheep farmers, Robert and Sarah Nobles, of Holme, who first saw their charge when Carol purposely took him to this year’s Harden Moss Sheep Dog Trials. Seeking a replacement dog, they liked what they saw and travelled to Skipton to acquire Max for 1,100gns.
“I am so glad they got Max, though one of the conditions of sale was that they should run him in the nursery trials at Harden Moss next year!” quipped Carol. The Nobles commented: “He’s a grand dog with a lovely nature.”
Carol also sold another litter sister, Moor Lodge Meg, for 700gns, to a south coast buyer, who also bought John Bell’s price-topping 11-month-old black and white dog, Omega Tek, acquired six months earlier from Welsh breeder James Lightfoot, of Bala, whose son Gwynn bred the dam, Omega Jess, herself a daughter of Aled Owen’s legendary Roy. The sire was Mr Lightfoot’s Taff.
As Mr Bell, of Parks Farm, Howden, Selby, further improved his record as Skipton’s most prolific top price achiever, broken dogs were not quite up to the quality of previous sales, which resulted in a quieter trade, though the top end were again much sought after and a number of buyers returned home empty-handed.
North Craven’s Shaun Richards, of Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs in Eldroth, who was top price achiever with another 5,000gns dog at Skipton’s previous fixture in May, was joint second top price performer at the latest renewal with a 3,000gns sale of his April, 2013, black and white bitch, Tip.
The dog was bred by Thomas Longton, of Quernmore, Lancaster, and is by Tot, one of his 2013 English National Brace Champions, out of Bess. Tip’s litter sister, Fran, was sold for 3,250gns at the last Skipton sale by former BBC One Man and His Dog presenter, Gus Dermody.
Tip’s new owners are Stephen and Helen Robinson, of Dunsop Bridge, who have previously bought dogs from Mr Richards. Their latest acquisition will be used as a work dog on their Swaledale and Cheviot sheep.
Mr Richards returned to the field with a younger black and white dog, the nine-month-old Tod, a product of Red Rose breeder Stuart Bennett’s Calderdale Jim and Calderdale Sally. The promising nursery trial prospect sold for 2,400gns to Kevin Leatherland for use in his sheep dipping business based in Northampton.
Also achieving 3,000gns was a three-year-old black and white bitch, Tweeddale Kim, from Dean Aitken, of Lockerbie. She is by Lamp, from Newton Stewart’s Jock McMillan, out of the vendor’s own Jill.
Kim returned to Scotland when joining Colin Kennedy, who runs 500 Cheviot-cross-Texel ewes on the Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides. Mr Kennedy said he had been really impressed by the work of Kim’s half brother, Buzz, who is by Lancastrian Ricky Hutchinson’s renowned trials and stud dog Sweep, which prompted him to travel down to North Yorkshire with the intention of buying the dog.
One local vendor selling his first-ever dog at Skipton was Sam Berry, from New Hall Farm, Bradley, who declared himself “very pleased” with the outcome when his two-year-old black and white bitch, Marchup Meg, also bred locally by Silsden’s Andrew Throup, sold for 2,650gns to John Maxwell, of Fintry, near Glasgow.
Mr Maxwell, who was also visiting Skipton for the first time and buying his first-ever dog – he normally breeds them himself – farms Scottish Blackface sheep and Galloway cattle, along with a pedigree Simmental cattle herd. He is an honorary president of The Blackface Sheep Breeders Association.
Harry Bouch, of Copperthorns, Penrith, caught the eye when selling his September, 2013, black and white bitch, Meg, for 2,400gns to regular Scottish Highlands buyer Jock Sutherland, of Sangormore, near Durness.
The same buyer also paid 2,150gns for a November, 2012, black and white bitch, Molly, from Irish breeder Gary Conway, of Omagh. Molly has both won and been placed in nursery trials.
Tracey Sutherland, a contract shepherd who was again making the 24-hour return trip from Wick, south of John O’Groats, achieved 2,050gns with her July, 2013, tri-coloured dog, Rosefield Jjed, who is related to both International and World Sheep Dog Trial champions. She joined Dunsop Bridge farmers Edward and John Parkinson and will be used solely as a work dog.
With 76 dogs forward, top prices and selling averages were: Registered broken dogs to 5,000gns (av £1,683), registered broken bitches to 3,000gns (£1,916) – overall average £1,774. Unbroken registered dogs to 1,450gns (£606), unbroken registered bitches to 1,850gns (£687). Unbroken unregistered bearded bitch 100gns.
Skipton’s autumn sale of working sheep dogs is scheduled to take place on Friday, October 23.