The 7,000gns sale fell to County Antrim’s Daniel McAllister, from Cargan, a village at the foot of Slievenanee in Glenravel – locally known as The Tenth Glen – with his 13-month-old slate and white dog, Torr, acquired last October from Scottish breeder Alan Frame, who farms near Mid Quarter, Hamilton.
Twelve months later, Mr Frame, accompanied by close friend Ian Fleming, who farms near Lanark, travelled down from Lanarkshire purposely to watch Torr put in a sparking performance in extremely tricky conditions on the trials field - and it was Mr Fleming, who farms near Lanark, who was the successful bidder. He actually ran Torr’s mother, Jill, at last year’s winter nursery trials, being placed on two occasions.
By Tweedale Buzz, from another well-known Scottish breeder Dean Aitken, of Lockerbie, bidding for the top price performer first opened at 3,500gns and he went on to sell for exactly double that price when returning to Scotland with Mr Fleming, who will not only put him to work on his flock of 3,000 Scottish Blackface sheep, but will also use Torr as a trials dog. He has another litter brother at home.
While Mr McAliister sold another dog at Skipton for 4,600gns in May this year, this was by far the highest price ever achieved by the Irish handler, who only keeps a few sheep at home and describes himself as a hobby trialist, though he has several Intermediate and other wins under his belt.
Next best at 4,600gns was a 16-month-old black and white bitch, Glan y Gors Erin, from Brian White and Aoife Smith, a young Irish couple from Naul in North County Dublin, who have a spectacular sales record at Skipton of late, having gained some extremely high prices with several of their first-rate charges, including one at 9,200gns last year.
Erin was bought privately at 11-weeks-old from her North Wales breeder Ian Carroll. She is out of his quality bitch, Nell, and by the legendary Sid, bred in County Donegal by Irish team member and former World Sheep Dog Trials champion James McGee, of Glencregg Sheepdogs in Creggan, Ballybofey.
Sid was also responsible for another Irish dog, Cap, which sold at Skipton two years ago for 14,100gns (£14,805), which remains a world record price for a working sheep dog at an official sale.
A highly promising trials prospect, Erin was claimed by a familiar face and regular top price buyer at Skipton, renowned Welsh handler and triallist Nigel Watkins, of Panthowell, Llanoldewsant, Llangadog, At Skipton in July last year, Mr Watkins also paid 7,200gns top price for another top dog from Brian and Aoife, which went on to qualify for the Welsh National team.
Aside from their dogs, the Irish couple farm pedigree Simmental cattle and Texel-cross and Suffolk-cross ewes. Like many sheep dog vendors these days they make good use of social media to promote their dogs widely pre-sale via facebook and youtube.
They returned to the Skipton trials field later in the day with a second dog, the 19-month-old tri-coloured Jim, by another Jim, Welsh nursery champion in the hands of Kevin Evans, by D Edwards’ Tysswg Lass, which sold for 2,650gns.
Next best on price with a 4,500gns sale was Kieran McFadden, from Derryreel in Co Donegal, with his 16-month-old tri-coloured dog, Duke, out of his own Open trial-winning bitch Nell, by fellow Irish breeder James McCloskey’s Open and International trials-winning dog, Sweep.
Mr McFadden, a part-time sheep farmer who has been breeding dogs for 15 years, was selling for only the second time at Skipton, returning after also doing well at the previous fixture in July with a 4,900gns sale. He saw his latest frontrunner join Ian Lockhart, of Dalrymple in Ayrshire, who will put Duke to work on his hill sheep flock
Fourth top call of 3,900gns was achieved by Michael McAlister, of Glenariffe in Co Antrim, with a dog that had exactly the same breeding as the top price Torr. The former jump jockey took to the field late in the day with his August, 2017, black and white dog, Ross, which was claimed by regular buyer Joe McRoberts, of Cheviot Sheepdogs at Fingland, near Biggar in Lanarkshire.
Mr McAlister also achieved 2,200gns with his brown, white and mottled bitch, Nell, exactly 11-months-old on sale day and fully home-bred by Ireland’s John Kinney.
Catching the eye with two dogs acquired as eight-week-old pups was local breeder and handler Beverley Fort, of Brighton House Farm, Steeton, who has made a real impression since starting to operate under her own Beverton prefix several years ago.
She hit 3,300gns with a very promising trials prospect, the nine-month-old black and white dog, Bill, by Northumberland shepherdess Emma Gray’s 2016 Nursery Champion, Tweedale Jamie, whose grand sire was Littledale-based Ricky Hutchinson’s much celebrated International Supreme Champion, Sweep, who has bred numerous trial winners across the globe. The buyer of what was the highest priced dog under 12 months was Red Rose trialing legend, Jim Cropper, from Bacup.
Beverley also stepped forward with a second Sweep grandson, the 14-month-old black and white Max, by Brendan McAllister’s multiple trials winner, Spot, out of Chris McNaughton’s Sal. Max, whose aunt, Flo, topped the Skipton sale 12 months earlier at 9,500gns in the hands of top Irish triallist, County Antrim’s Michael Gallagher – he was also top dog on price in July with another 6,200gns sale - was another dog to find a new home north of the border with Sharon Baxter, from Marshall Walker Farms in Maud, near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, at 2,900gns. Max will be put to work on their predominantly Mule-cross sheep flock.
Making 3,100gns was yet another Sweep grandson, Moss, from Welsh handler and trialist Brynley Williams of Ysceifiog, near Holywell in Flintshire. This one also found a new home north of the border when joining sheep farmer Norman McEwan, of Glenesk, near Brechin in Angus.
Welshman Kevin Evans, of Penclyn Farm, Modrydd, Brecon, Powys, another well-known handler and top trialist who regularly buys dogs at Skipton, also ran a quality trio of family-owned entries at the October fixture.
Top on price at 3,400gns was the two-year-old tri-coloured dog, Llanfarian Moss, by Gary, who finished third in the 2017 World Sheep Dog Trials in the hands of Netherlands trialist, Serge van der Sweep, out of Kemi Molly, a daughter of Mr Evans’ own Tanhill Glen, the 2015 European Nursery Champion. This one sold later to a Scottish buyer.
Next best at 3,000gns was North Hill Swift, a September, 2015, black and white bitch also by Tanhill Glen, out of R Lewis’s Swift, claimed by Chris Fawbert, from Masham. Also making 2,200gns early in the day was the August, 2016, black and white dog, Astra Ace, by Dick Roper’s Rosewood Will, out JP Beale’s Astra Becky.
Three further dogs, all from Wales, made 3,000gns. First up was the December, 2015, black and white bitch, Heather Hill Flash, from Ross Games, of Talgarth in Powys. Trained to a good nursery standard, she became a second Norman McEwan acquisition.
Also making 3,000gns was Nell, a February, 2017, black and white bitch from Dan Rees, of Tregaron, Ceredigion, who only started breeding dogs two years ago and trialling last year. By Ross Games’ Roy, out of SK Jones’ Bizzy, the smooth-coated dog also found a new home north of the border.
The other at 3,000gns was Holystone Kate, a January, 2017, black and white bitch from Barry Hopwood, of Mold. Fully home-bred by Chris Watmore, of the Holystone Estate near Rothbury in Northumberland, Kate was purchased by A Wilkie, of Kirriemuir in Angus.
Top call of 1,600gns in the unbroken pen fell to another vendor who was also achieving his highest-ever price at an official sale, West Yorkshire handler Harry Griffiths, from Birstall, near Batley, with his five-month-old black and white dog, Smithymoor Nip.
The youngster arrived with first-rate breeding credentials, being by Kevin Evans’ Derwen Doug, the 2018 European Nursery Champion, who is himself another product of the highly regarded Tanhill Glen, out of Mr Griffiths’ own Wainstalls Gem, bred in Calderdale.
Gem is also the mother to Moss, sold by Mr Griffiths for 1,000gns top price in Skipton’s unbroken pen several years ago and who progressed to win the 2014 All Wales Nursery Championship in the hands of the prolific Kevin Evans, as well as becoming the highest rated stud dog that same year.
Mr Griffiths, who breeds pedigree Blue Texel sheep, some of which have been purchased at Skipton, saw Nip find a new home in Devon with Terry ‘Jim’ Nicholls and his wife Judith, who farm Mule and Suffolk-cross sheep in Buckland Brewer, near Bideford, and made the near 700-mile round trip to and from Skipton.
Mr Nicholls, who has represented the English National team, including an appearance at the 2017 World Sheep Dog Trials in Holland, said he regarded his new acquisition as an extremely promising trials prospect.
Making an impact with two four-figure sales in the unbroken pen was Mid Wales handler Aled Bebb, of Llwydiarth, in Powys .Doing best at 1,150gns, second top price, was his six-month-old home-bred black and white bitch, Cydros Becca, bred out of his own Belle, yet another product of Ricky Hutchinson’s Sweep. The sire was Welshman Aled Owen’s Llangwm Cap, the current Welsh National champion. Becca sold locally to Skipton’s David Wade.
Mr Bebb also achieved 1,050gns with the very first entry in the unbroken pen. At just three-months-old, his tri-coloured bitch, Cydros Lily, again by Llangwm Cap, out of his own Dot, travelled south to Devon when also joining Mr and Mrs Nicholls.
While some heady prices continue to be achieved at Skipton for the best broken dogs, particularly those with top-notch trials potential, there were again lots of opportunities for buyers to tap into readily affordable dogs for both work and trial.
A good number of dogs sold at between 2,000 and 3,000gns. Top trainer and Skipton regular, John Bell, of Parks Farm, Howden, Selby, had four 2,000gns-plus sales, the leading three with 12-month-old entries.
His best at 2,700gns was Jinty, a black and white bitch by Kevin Evans’ Kemi Ross, the 2015 Welsh National driving champion, followed at 2,650gns by the tri-coloured Jet, by another leading Evans dog, Ace, the 2017 World Sheep Dog Trials runner-up.
A full litter sister to Jinty, the tri-coloured bitch Lyn, then went on to sell for 2,600gns, with Mr Bell’s fourth and younger dog, the nine-month-old black and white Burndale Jed, by Sergio Perello Galdon’s 2018 English National Singles Champion, Murguia Jim, making 2.100gns.
Other 2,000gns and above prices were as follows:
2,600gns – Pat, January, 2017, bitch from C Wilson, of Grange-over-Sands; Hillside Mel, November, 2017, dog from Neil McNally, of Carlisle; and Kemi Sweep, two-year-old dog from R Owen, of Amlwch, Anglesey.
2,550gns – Nell, June, 2017, bitch from Richard Crowe, from the Isle of Man.
2,500gns – Jill, June, 2017, black and white bitch from Patty Lynch, of County Donegal; and Gyp, June, 2017, bitch from Scott Anderson, of Lockerbie.
2,000gns – Glen, four-year-old tri-coloured dog from J Mitchell, of Newton Stewart.
There was a total entry of 114 dogs, comprising 82 broken field-run dogs and 32 in the unbroken pen. Registered dogs, 27 sold from 400gns to 7,000gns (av £2,443), registered bitches, 21 sold from 1,000gns to 4,600gns (av £2,478), unregistered dogs, 4 sold from 750gns to 1,900gns (av £1,614), unregistered bitches, 1 at 2,600gns. Overall average for registered broken dogs £2,458 and unregistered broken dogs £1,838. Unbroken: Registered dogs from 100gns to 1,600gns (av £560), registered bitches from 350gns to 1,150gns (av £799), 1 unregistered unbroken bitch 680gns.
Skipton’s next and first working sheep dog sale of 2019 will take place next February.