Sheep dog enthusiasts from all over Europe turned out in force for the popular May sales fixture at Skipton Auction Mart. Fri, May 17).
With fewer farm customers in evidence, perhaps due to the constraints of the long, costly winter, trade was certainly quieter, though broken registered dogs still commanded a solid underlying trade, with an overall selling average of £2,116 – this without the inclusion of a new world record price of 8,800 guineas, or £9,240, for Bob, a 15-month-old black and white dog from John Bell, of Parks Farm, Howden, Selby.
Interest in the unbroken pen continued, with well-bred prospects from Jean Howes, of Redgate Lodge, Redgate, County Durham, and up-and-coming local breeder Beverley Fort, of Brighton House Farm, Steeton, causing a particular stir among aficionados when selling at 1,000gns (£1,050) and 680gns (£714) respectively. Beverley herself acquired Jean’s promising youngster.
However, the highlight was Mr Bell’s new world record price paid for a working sheep dog at an official sale. The buyer was a telephone bidder, who requested anonymity, though it is understood that the dog is destined for a new home in the United States.
The previous world record price of 8,000gns (£8,400) was also established at Skipton in October last year by Shaun Richards, of Watson Laithe, Hapton, Burnley, who sold Marchup Midge, an 18-month-old black and white bitch, to Suffolk shepherd Eddie Thornalley, of Worlington.
John Bell, now 82, had himself established the earlier world record price of 6,000gns (£6,300) - his fourth in total, all set at Skipton - in February, 2011, with a 13-month-old tri-coloured bitch, Dewi Fan. He has also achieved the three highest prices ever paid at official sales for dogs under 12-months-old.
Mr Bell paid just 300gns (£315) for Bob as a 13-week-old pup at Skipton last year and has since worked his magic in bringing on the dog at home. “He has been working since he was nine-months-old. He is a natural and I was expecting a lot of him,” Mr Bell said of Bob.
The dog was bred in Northern Ireland by Ivan Stevenson, of Broughshane, Ballymena, County Antrim. He is by Jim, described by the breeder as “my best dog ever.”
Previous dogs sold by Mr Bell at the North Yorkshire venue have gone on to achieve high profile successes in sheep dog trials, including both English and Scottish National trial winners and an International Driving champion.
He sold a total of three dogs at Skipton’s late Spring sale. Folly, a 16-month-old black and white bitch, bred in Northumberland by shepherdess Emma Gray, a member of the 2012 English National team, and a full sister to Shap-based Katy Cropper’s well-regarded novice trial dog Zac, made 2,800gns (£2,940) when joining a beef and sheep farmer in Cumbria, who will use him for both work and nursery trials later this year.
Mr Bell also achieved 2,650gns (£2,782) for Skye, a 15-month-old tri-coloured bitch bred in Marston Montgomery, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, by 2012 English National champion Ben Smith. By his own Ben, Skye was bought at nine-months-old by Mr Bell and went to a purchaser from the Midlands.
Mr Bell also turned buyer when paying 1,000gns (£1,050), the day’s joint top price for a youngster, for a seven-month-old pup, Moss, from Harry Griffiths, of Batley. He is by Clyde, who finished fourth in the 2011 World Sheep Dog Trials in the hands of Lancastrian Tom Lawrenson, of Brindle, out of Wainstalls Jim. Mr Bell will get to work on the pup, which had just started schooling.
Former world record price holder Shaun Richards was again prominent when clinching the day’s second highest price of 3,500gns (£3,675) with Nan, a three-year-old smooth-coated black and white bitch bred near Bala in Wales by Peter Blain, by his Gel, out of Nell.
Already placed in open trials and with national points under her belt, Nan, described as a “genuine and honest work bitch” by Mr Richards, sold locally to Stephen and Tracey Fawcett, of Fold House Farm, Drebley, Barden, for use at home by the couple’s 23-year-old twins Samantha and Ben.
Samantha has recently become a partner in the business after returning home. She achieved her National Diploma in Agriculture at Myerscough College, Preston, before gaining experience on a dairy farm in the same area for three-and-a-half years.
“My father’s dog is very loyal and would not work for anyone else, which is why we got Nan. She is my first dog,” explained Samantha.
Next best at 2,950gns (£3,097) was Fly, a ten-month-old black and white bitch with trial potential from Northern Ireland’s William Torrens, of Castlederg, Belfast, who also regularly sells dogs at Skipton. By his own Ben, out of Kim, the quality young dog found a new home on the east coast of England with beef and sheep hill farmer Edmund Nicholson, of Briscoe Farm, Whitby. Fly will be used solely as a work dog.
Late in the day, Irishman W Lawrence, of Money Moor in County Derry, achieved 2,650gns (£2,782) with his tri-coloured bitch Faye, two-years-old next month, by Tom Lawrenson’s Spot. Already proven in nursery trials, she found a new home in Holmrook, Cumbria, with Arthur Temple, a regular buyer at Skipton and well-know trialist, who was a finalist in the 2011 World Sheep Dog Trials.
Another familiar face at Skipton, Welshman Emrys Jones, of Sarn-Faen Farm, Tal y Bont, Gwynedd, in the Snowdonia National Park, achieved 2,400gns (£2,520) with his June, 2011-born black and white dog Drift, also by Tom Lawrenson’s Spot, out of PH Blenkinsop’s Nell. Drift found a new home in Ayrshire.
Also from Ireland, Patrick McGoldrick, of Meenadreen in County Donegal, made 2,300gns (£2,415) with his 12-month-old tri-coloured bitch Meg, fully home-bred by his own Sweep and Yale. The dog also found a new home in Ayrshire - Scottish buyers turned out in force on the day – with Jamie Shennan, of Old Dailly, Girvan.
Two entries sold at 2,200gns (£3,310). First up was a two-year-old tri-coloured dog, Mynydd Meic, known as Mike at home, from Welsh trialist Meirion Williams, of Llwyn Onn, Brooks, Welshpool, Powys. By fellow Welshman Aled Owen’s 2008 World Sheep Dog Trials champion Roy, out of S Jones’ L’Minster Holly, Mike returned to Wales following a successful phone bid.
The second 2,200gns, a 23-month-old tri-coloured dog, Baledmund Sam, from South Cheshire’s Gus Dermody, presenter and commentator for BBC2′s ‘One Man and His Dog,’ sold for 2,200gns (£2,310) to a Scottish buyer from Perthshire.
Also heading for Scotland after being purchased for 2,100gns (£2,205) was Kate, a two-year-old black and white bitch from J Whitton, of Spaldington, Doncaster. By the 2010 English National champion Milo, she was bought by Sandy McCullough, of Dalmellington in Ayrshire, and will take her place as a work dog and potential nursery trial competitor. “She is looking good. I am very happy with her,” said Mr McCullough.
An older black and white dog, the three-year-old Joss, a former East Anglian Trial champion, from Tim Bulgin, who farms between Thetford and Downham Market in Norfolk, sold well at 1,900gns (£1,995) when joining Roy Campbell, who has farms in Drinsynie, Argyll, and Cockermouth, Cumbria, and will be put to use on his pedigree Texel flock.
Joss is fully home-bred, being by Mr Bulgin’s Jip, out of Floss. Mr Bulgin also sold two dogs at Skipton last year that have progressed to perform well on the trial field. Adelph Jip went on to win the Scottish nursery final in the hands of John Templeton, while Meg won all four of her nursery trials for new owner, North Yorkshire handler John Atkinson.
P Satterthwaite, of Kirkby Stephen, stepped forward with his August, 2010-born sable and white bitch Highfield Lexy, by D Harrison’s Ben, out of M Bowmer’s Shadwell Kit. She sold for 1,850gns (£1,942) to another buyer from Dalmellington in Ayrshire.
Close behind on 1,800gns (£1,890) was Scottish vendor Ian Fleming, of Douglas, Lanark, with his 19-month-old brown and white bitch Kate, by Tanhill Sweep, out of Jen. She joined Matt Tomlinson in Muggington, Derbyshire.
Steeton’s Beverley Fort, now operating under her own Beverton prefix, achieved the same price with her promising young home-bred black and white dog, the 11-month-old Beverton Gud, said to be out of her two best dogs - Ben, a product of Jim Cropper’s renowned Sid, who ran in three World Sheep Dog Trials, out of Bess, by J Burrows’ Scott.
Known as Judd at home, he returned to Mr Cropper and will be aimed at nursery trials later this year. “He is a nice young dog with a real temperament. I have big hopes for him,” said Mr Cropper, who lives in Irwell, Bacup, Lancs.
Beverley also sold another youngster, her five-month-old black and white bitch, Beverton Mist, for 680gns. A full litter sister to Beverton Macs, the top price 750gns pup at Skipton’s opening working dog sale in February this year, Mist is by Marchup Bob, bred locally in Silsden by Andrew Throup, who is himself by J Richardson’s Yorkshire Nursery champion Staff. The dam is the home-bred Beverton Keira, who was also responsible for the trial-winning Beverton Tarn.
Beverley, now 29, who has been breeding sheep dogs since she was 15, then paid 1,000gns (£1,050) for Jean Howes’ joint top price younger dog, the eight-month-old black and white bitch, Redgate Jessie, by B Skidmore’s Cap, out of her own Becky.
“Jessie is my next project and I also plan to use her as a future breeding bitch to Beverton Gud’s full brother Beverton Dom, who I am currently using as my main work dog at home,” explained Beverley.
Northumberland breeder Tony Isley, of Morpeth, made 1,750gns (£1,837) with his December, 2011-born black, white and mottled bitch Cree, by B Bell’s Moss, out of J Brunton’s Tanhill Bess. She sold to a buyer from Kinross, Scotland.
With a robust total of 92 dogs forward, leading prices and averages were: Broken registered dogs to 8,800gns (av £2,380), part-broken registered dogs to 1,000gns (av £878), unbroken registered dogs to 1,000gns (av £362), broken unregistered dogs to 750gns (av £578), part-broken unregistered dogs to 520gns (av £494), unbroken unregistered dogs to 60gns (av £47).