Sheep dog supremo John Bell, of Parks Farm, Howden, Selby, headed the prices for an unprecedented 13th time in the past eight years at the winter sale of working dogs at Skipton Auction Mart (Fri, Jan 15).
John Bell, right, with Dot, top priced dog at Skipton, and buyer Jock Sutherland
The renowned handler was top dog yet again with Dot, a 13-month-old black and white bitch with top-notch Welsh breeding credentials. She is a daughter of the 2008 International Sheep Dog Trials supreme champion Mirk, from leading Welsh trialist Kevin Evans, of Modrydd, Brecon, Powys. Her dam is Goytre, Port Talbot-based John Wheaton’s Floss, top-priced bitch at the 2007 Kendal sale.
Dot had already created strong pre-sale interest, which was maintained on the day when keenly contested bidding culminated in a successful top call of 3,600 guineas (£3,780) from Scotsman Jock Sutherland, farm manager with Keoldale Farms, Durness, in the far north-west of Sutherland.
Mr Sutherland made the 900-mile round trip from the Scottish Highlands to acquire Dot, who will be further developed as a working farm and potential high-class nursery dog for the 2011 season.
Her new owner, who competed for the Scottish trials team in 2007, was making his third visit to Skipton, having already bought two dogs at the previous sale. He also made a second purchase at the latest renewal.
Vendor John Bell specialises in bringing on young, up-and-coming dogs. At Skipton’s 2008 summer sale, he sold Bob, an 11-month-old black and white dog, which made 4,000gns (£4,200) and remains a world record price paid at an official sale for a young dog under one-year-old.
Only the previous week, Bob had been placed in a nursery trial in Scotland in the hands of Murray MacTier and has also qualified for the Scottish National Open.
Regular Skipton vendor Shaun Richards, of Watson Laithe, Hapton, Burnley, was again prominent, notably with Sweep, his September, 2007-born black and white dog, who is by Bill, bred on the Isle of Lewis and now owned by well-known Scottish trialist Bobby Henderson, of Heriot in the Scottish Borders.
Shaun Richards has been a familiar face at Skipton’s seasonal working sheep dog sales since their inception in 1995. At the final sale of 2008, he achieved his best-ever price of 3,300 guineas (£3,465) for a two-year-old tri-coloured bitch Tib, one of three dogs he sold on the day.
This time around, Sweep, who had already shown promise in the trials arena, was knocked down for the joint third highest priced in show at 3,200gns (£3,360) to John Bell, who will further hone his abilities. In addition, Mr Richards sold a March, 2008-born tri-coloured bitch Trim for 1,950gns.
John Bell also had an interest in the other joint third highest priced entry, a black and white dog Calderdale Ross, by Eifion Hope’s Kep, out of Stephen Bennet’s Jen, which Mr Bell previously sold to North Wales handler Iolo Jones, of Maes Gwyn, Corwen, Clwyd.
Ross, now two-and-a-half-years-old, had made smooth progress in the hands of Mr Jones, with three open wins and other points in 2009, plus an appearance in the Welsh National.
Mr Jones, who competed for the Welsh trials team with another dog in 2008, was selling his second dog at Skipton – his first some three years ago achieving the second top price of 2,450gns. His latest entry returned to North Wales when acquired by a well-known trialist who has won multiple titles. (anonymity requested)
Colin Pickford and Rainow Bet, second highest priced dog at Skipton.
The winter fixture’s second highest price of 3,500gns (£3,675) fell to Cheshire handler Colin Pickford, of Rainow, Macclesfield, with his 23-month-old home-bred tri-coloured bitch Rainow Bet, another entry with first-class credentials and excellent prospects.
She is by 2008 World Sheepdog Trials champion and International winner Roy, owned by Welsh trialing legend Aled Owen, of Penyfed, Ty-Nant, Corwen, Denbighshire, out of Mr Pickford’s own Rainow Gail.
The vendor, a former English trialist, regularly sells at Skipton, though Bet represents his highest price to date. The North Yorkshire buyer, who requested anonymity, said his new acquisition would be used as a working farm dog, potential trialist and mother.
While the attendance was down on usual numbers because of wintry weather conditions, plenty of high profile handlers from across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland were much in evidence, with good prices achieved for quality, well-broken dogs.
Prominent Welsh handler Huw Francis, Penllwyn, sold a brace of dogs at 2,600gns and 1,400gns, Leicestershire vendor John Porter sold a bitch at 2,450gns, with JE Lightfoot, North Wales, achieving a price of 2,000gns for a dog. Other leading prices were: G Gordon 1,900gns, R MacDiarmid 1,550gns, I Hulme 1,400gns.
Carol Mellin, of Moor Lodge, Oakworth, sold three pups – one at an exhilarating 600gns and two at 420gns. All were daughters of her seven-year-old work bitch Maisie, who is used at Skipton dog sales to marshall sheep on the trials field – and has obviously impressed many an onlooker with her abilities, hence the demand for her offspring.
Carol said: “Maisie in an absolutely fantastic dog, an excellent all-rounder. She’s a one-off – I will never have another like her. So many people have wanted pups from her and the pleasing thing is that I sold all three pups to people I know, so will be able to follow their future progress.”
The 600gns pup sold to Barry Liddle, Felliscliffe, Pateley Bridge, and the two 420gns youngsters to Jean Howes (nee Skidmore), Wolsingham, Durham – from whom Carol originally bought Maisie – and Beverley Fort, Steeton.
With 55 dogs forward, well-broken dogs averaged a heady £1,838, with part-broken dogs averaging £403 and pups £251.
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