Irish eyes were smiling when Brian White and Aoife Smith, a young and talented Irish couple from Naul in north Co Dublin, were top dogs with a 9,200 guineas (£9,660) top call at the annual Spring sale of working sheep dogs at Skipton Auction Mart, which attracted another strong turnout of 120 dogs. (Friday, May 12).
The couple set the ringside alight after Brian’s sparklng performance on the trials field with their homebred 17 month old black and white dog, Moss, who is out of their top-class bitch Malta Gwen, bred by Carlaine Thom, of Malta Border Collies, based in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
She was bred to leading trial dog and proven breeder, Ricky Hutchinson’s Sweep, an International Reserve Supreme Champion. Sweep has bred numerous trial winners across the world.
Now four years old, Gwen is the couple’s main farm and breeding bitch and Moss was among a litter of six, which were all sold, three of which are now trialling successfully.
However, Brian wanted Moss back, so went out and bought her for a not inconsiderable sum.
But, Moss more than repaid the couple’s faith and confidence when becoming top dog on price, confirming pre-sale hype that he would do really well and could go to the top in the right hands when the subject of some frantic bidding, before finally falling to another Irishman who regularly sells dogs at Skipton, Pat Byrne, of Knockcroghery in Co Roscommon.
I wanted a really good dog and went to see Moss in action on his home ground, and also his mother, Gwen, working, which was very important to me, as it’s all down to good breeding.Pat Byrne, Co Roscommon
“I wanted a really good dog and went to see Moss in action on his home ground, and also his mother, Gwen, working, which was very important to me, as it’s all down to good breeding,” said Mr Byrne, who will work his new acquisition on his 280-strong flock of Suffolk and Cheviot sheep, and Limousin and Charolais cattle.
It was the best price ever achieved at an official working dog sale by Brian and Aoife, and the second highest price ever seen at Skipton, bettered only by the world record price of 14,100gns (£14,805) at the same venue 12 months ago by Cap, a 16 month old dog also bred in Ireland by Padraig Doherty, who with his brother Joe runs Ardagh Sheepdogs in Co Donegal.
Breeders of top-notch working dogs are now increasingly filming their dogs at work and promoting them via social media channels and Brian White Sheepdogs’ facebook and youtube presences had done much to create all the hype ahead of the sale.
“It’s brilliant, but I felt under real pressure when taking to the trials field, as Moss had been the subject of such widespread interest. We had 3,600 views on YouTube in two weeks alone,” he said.
As well as Moss, Brian and Aoife, who farm pedigree Simmental cattle and Texel-cross and Suffolk-cross ewes, sold two more dogs at Skipton for 2,200gns each to scoop a total of 13,600gns (£14,280) on a highly successful day.
First up was their September, 2015, black and white bitch, Maddy, which joined Welsh handler John Roberts in Betws-y-Coed, followed by Sweep, a two-year-old tri-coloured dog bred by Pat Byrne, their same day’s top price buyer, being by his Lad, out of Lynn. This one joined a buyer from Scotland.
Another highlight for the Irish was the 5,000gns achieved by a first-time vendor anywhere, County Galway’s Louise Amos, of Quories Border Collies in Cuppanagh, Woodlawn, Ballinasloe, with her highly promising nursery prospect, the home-bred March, 2016, black tri-coloured dog, Quories Bean.
He is out of Louise’s own Quories Moxy, since sold and doing well with her Welsh owner, bred out of her first trials bitch, Meg, and by Nip, from a good friend, International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) director, Angie Blackmore, of Gloucestershire, who also made her first-ever visit to Skipton at this year’s opening February dog sale, when she netted 5,550gns with two quality bitches.
Louise knows Angie from her time as a shepherdess in the south-east, spending ten years working in the Cotswolds and Ashdown Forest, before last year deciding to pursue a dream and become her own boss breeding and trialling dogs.
She upped sticks and bought a dilapidated cottage with an acre of land in Galway. The proceeds from the much-loved Bean, a reluctant sale to a Welsh buyer who requested anonymity, will assist the renovation process.
However, Louise, still keeps her hand in with the shepherding by returning to England for lambing, for the past two years in Northumberland with accomplished triallist and ISDS council member, Bevis Jordan, who gave some great advice and help in preparing Bean for the sale.
Already a keen triallist over the past decade, Louise has twice run in the English National before moving to Ireland, where last year she came sixth in the Irish National, winning her a place on the Irish team for the 2016 International and this year’s World Trial, due to be held in the Netherlands in July.
Shaun Richards, who runs Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs in Eldroth, above Settle, and is regular Skipton top price achiever, again did well with two 4,400gns and 4,000gns sales, the former with his August, 2015, black and white and top priced bitch Gill, who was bred in Scotland by J J Templeton, MBE, by his Spot, out of Sky. The dog returned north of the border to the Scottish Highlands with regular Skipton buyer, Jock Sutherland, of Sangormore, Durness.
Earlier in the day, Mr Richards, who trains his dogs in the shadow of Pen-y-ghent, claimed 4,000gns with his home-bred November, 2015, black and white bitch, Pen-y-Borough Ann, by Marchup Roger, from another well-known local breeder, Andrew Throup, of Silsden Moor, whose dogs remain popular with the North Craven handler. Out of the since sold Derwen Lassie, Ann fell to well-known Welsh triallist Kevin Evans, of Penclyn Farm, Modrydd, Brecon, Powys, who bought three dogs on the day.
Television cameras were at the mart, having been following the progress of Shaun and Ann for a future programme, “Britain by Bike,” featuring London-born actor and radio presenter Larry Lamb and his son George, which will be screened on Channel 5.
A second young up-and-coming 16-month-old dog, Jet, also flew to 4,400gns. It came from Welsh handler and triallist Brynley Williams, of Ysceifiog, near Holywell in Flintshire. Bred by M Holt’s Rob, out of Titch, this too, fell to Mr Evans.
Top Irish triallist Michael Gallagher, from Armoy in County Antrim, again took to the Skipton field to achieve 3,800gns with his two-year-old black and white bitch, Templemoyle Hope, by A P Ward’s Ben, out of Geraldine McCloskey’s Pippa. She found a new home in the Scottish Borders with regular buyer Joe McRobert, who runs Cheviot Sheepdogs at Fingland, near Biggar in Lanarkshire.
Catching the eye for Wales was Ross Games, of Talgarth in southern Powys, with a 3,700gns sale for his 13-month-old tri-coloured bitch, Nan, out of his brother Arran’s Kemi Pop - sold at Skipton last October for 2,200gns - by fellow Welsh breeder Pennant Williams’ Sweep. Ross finished third in last year’s International Trial with Roy, a half brother to Nan, who returned to Wales when joining R Lewis in Cardiff.
Another 3,700gns sale was achieved by Alec Baines, who runs his long-established Tanhill Sheepdogs at Skirrygil Farm, South Stainmoor, Kirkby Stephen, with his home-bred November, 2014, black and white dog, Tanhill Jock, out of his own Tanhill Jess, by Welsh breeder IB Jones’ trials winner Tim.
With a nursery win and multiple placings already under his belt, Jock was bought for his future trialling potential by John Brennan, of Templemore in Co Tipperary, who has twice won the Irish National, first in 1986 at the beginning of his trialling career, then later in 2002.
John Bell, of Parks Farm, Howden, near Selby, one of the most experienced sheep dog trainers in the land and another multiple top price achiever at Skipton, sold two highly promising young 16-month-old dogs from the same litter at 3,750gns and 3,500gns.
Both were by Kevin Evans’ Moss, the 2014 All Wales Nursery Final winner, out of the Irish-bred Tara, from Seamus Gormley, of Kilcreen Sheep Dog Centre in Claudy, Co Londonderry. The former, the black and white Kilcreen Don, returned to Mr Gormley, while the latter. Kilcreen Rob, fell to Mr Evans.
Local handler Richard Atkins, of Oakworth, saw a 3,000gns sale to a Scottish buyer with his July, 2014, tri-coloured bitch, Halloverhill Meg, a daughter of Lancashire breeder Tom Lawrenson’s Clyde, who finished fourth in the 2011 World Sheepdog Trials, out of T R Riley’s Tweeddale Bell.
Buyers continue flock to Skipton from far and wide, with the usual keen interest from north of the border again demonstrated by Willie Goldie, of Barrhead, Dalrymple in East Ayrshire, who paid 2,500gns for Come Bye Glyn, a May, 2015, homebred brown and white dog from J Griffiths, of Brecon, Powys. Mr Goldie will use the dog on his Lleyn and Romney sheep, and cattle.
Top call in the unbroken pen of 1,400gns fell to Northern Ireland’s Geraldine McCloskey, of Temple Moyle Sheepdogs in Dungiven, Co Londonderry, with her three-month-old Ruby, by her husband Canice’s Pippa, who is herself a well-bred daughter of James McCloskey’s Sweep, winner of the 2016 International Sheepdog Trials, by Brendan McAllister’s Spot.
Ruby’s buyer was Cotswolds farm manager Dick Roper, the reigning One Man and His Dog champion and International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) English national president, who at Skipton’s opening dog sale in February set the unbroken pen alight when achieving a new record high at the venue of 2,000gns with his eight-month-old black and white dog, Solo.
The McCloskeys sold four pups in total at an overall average of 1,010gns. Also doing well at 1,120gns was Jock, another three-month-old from the same litter as their top price youngster, which joined a Welsh buyer.
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, also took to the field to sell one of his own dogs, the two-year-old black and white Chip, who made 2,250gns when finding a new home in Norfolk with J and N Case.
Other broken dogs selling from 2,000gns were:
2,800gns – Fly, November, 2014, black and white bitch from Ben Smith, of Oxford.
2,800gns – Dan, January, 2015, black and white dog, from Ivan Stevenson, of Broughshane, Ballymena, Co Antrim.
2,500gns – Glen, black and white dog and four-times nursery trial winner from Bacup’s Jim Cropper.
2,500gns – Eva, January, 2015, black and white bitch from Michael McAlister, of Glenariffe, Co Antrim.
2,400gns – Cap, August, 2015, black and white dog from C McKee, of Kilkeel, Ireland.
2,450gns – Meg, January, 2016, bitch from Brian Quigley, of Co Londonderry, Ireland.
2,000gns – Glen, January, 2015, tri-coloured dog from William Lawrence, of Co Londonderry, Ireland.
2,000gns – Garth Jack, November, 2015, dog from J Latimer, of Brampton, Cumbria.
Now firmly established as the UK’s leading sheep dog sales venue, trade was a slightly back on previous sales, with everything a little harder to sell, though broken registered dogs and bitches averaged considerably more than the February fixture.
Prices and Averages: Broken section: 31 registered dogs sold from 400gns to 9,200gns (av £2.207), 17 registered bitches from 150gns to 4,440gns (av £2,501). The 48 registered dogs averaged £2,312. Unregistered dogs, 4 from 750gns to 2,500gns (av £1,509), 3 unregistered bitches from 750gns to 1,400gns (av £1,172).
Unbroken section: 11 registered dogs from 280gns to 1,120gns (av £580), 9 registered bitches from 200gns to 1,400gns (av £531), 2 unregistered bitches at 150gns and 250gns (av £210), 2 unregistered Kelpie bitches at 220gns and 350gns (av £299)
The spring sale was supported by Farmers Guardian.
Future seasonal working sheep dog sales at Skipton are due to be staged on Fridays, July 21 and October 13.