A three-year-old Border Collie bitch named Tock ticked all the right boxes to clock up the day’s top price of 4,000 guineas (£4,200) at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual summer sale of working sheep dogs. (Fri, July 18).
The classy May, 2011-born black and white bitch put in a near flawless performance on the trials field in the hands of Shaun Richards, who runs Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs in Eldroth, near Settle in North Craven.
Mr Richards is a regular top price achiever at the UK’s leading sheep dog sales venue with his expertly trained and well disciplined dogs. He repeated the feat at the latest renewal with the Lancashire-bred Tock, who is by Wenndale Roy, owned by Ricky Hutchinson in Littledale, out of Nell, from Frank Cleary, of Tockholes, Darwen.
Creating keen interest at the ringside, she eventually found a new home in the Scottish Borders with Niel Manning, of High Hill Farm, Earlshaugh, near Morpeth. Tock will be put to work on a flock of Scottish Blackface sheep on Mr Manning’s hill farm, which soars to 2,000ft above sea level. “It needs a hardy dog and a hardy man where we are,” he noted.
Mr Richards also sold a 20-month-old tri-coloured Irish hill dog, Dan, for 2,300gns (£2,415) to a local farmer buyer, John Robinson, of Foulridge.
Selling for the first time at Skipton, David Wood, of Crookhill Farm, Derwent, near Bamford in the Derbyshire Peak District’s Hope Valley, was thrilled when his October, 2011-born black and white dog, Alec, achieved the day’s second highest price of 3,500gns (£3,675).
Already a dual nursery trial winner, Alec is by Rick, from Kirkby Stephen’s Alec Baines, out of Penllwyn Fly, bred by Chloe Cropper, a member of the renowned Lancashire-based trialling family. He returned home with Northern Ireland’s Alastair Lyttle, of Pettigo, County Donegal, a well-known triallist and familiar face at Skipton.
Next best at 3,250gns (£3,412) was Nell, an 18-month-old black and white bitch from eminent Welsh breeder and trialist Huw Francis, of Llanfyllin, Welshpool, in Powys. She fell to a Scottish buyer, Mary Lewis, of Thornhill, near Dumfries, who though now semi-retired after farming for many years, still keeps around 200 Scotch Mules and Berrichon sheep, on which Nell will be worked.
Mr Francis also did well with a younger dog, his 11-month-old tri-coloured bitch Dash, bred in Ireland by Co Roscommon’s Pat Byrne, which achieved 2,015gns (£2,115).
Also performing with credit at 3,200gns (£3,360) was a 13-month-old black and white fully home-bred dog, Ben, from Irishman Willie Torrens, of Killen, Castlederg, in Co Tyrone, who often sells top end dogs at Skipton. Ben joined a regular buyer from South Wales.
John Bell, of Parks Farm, Howden, Selby, headed the broken young dog prices for the third consecutive Skipton sale at 3,000gns (£3,150) with his ten-month-old black and white bitch Bet, bred by Jackie Cook in Egton, Whitby, and bought out of Skipton’s pup pen at an earlier sale. She was purchased by Kevin Leatherland, of East Haddon in Northamptonshire, on behalf of a renowned English triallist.
Mr Bell also sold an 18-month-old tri-coloured bitch, Jan, for 2,000gns (£2,100), and then turned his attention to the unbroken dogs pen to pay 1,100gns (£1,155), top pen price of the day by far, for a well-bred black and white bitch, Floss, which turned one-year-old on sale day, from local breeder and handler Beverley Fort, of Brighton House Farm, Steeton.
Floss is by Matt Watson’s 2010 English National champion Milo, out of a bitch called Poppy, whose grandfather Joe was International Supreme Champion in the hands of Bobby Dalziel. Mr Bell will work his magic on Floss, who is likely to return to a future Skipton working dog sale.
Beverley Fort, now operating under her own Beverton prefix, also did well with an older well-bred dog, her September, 2009-born tri-coloured bitch Jan, which she bought as an eight-week-old pup.
Jan, whose litter brother was sold at Skipton for 3,800gns by Ireland’s Ivan Stevenson, fell for 2,400gns (£2,520) to Barry Liddle, of Baudshaw Farm, West End, Pateley Bridge, and will be put to work on his hill flock of 100 Dalesbred ewes.
Mr Liddle is a successful working sheep dog breeder and multiple nursery trial winner. His father Alan was English National champion three times with the same bitch in the 1930s.
John Palmer, of Higher Higson Farm, Twiston, Clitheroe, co-ordinator of the 2011 World Sheep Dog Trials in Cumbria, achieved 2,500gns (£2,625) with his January, 2012-born black and white dog Storm, winner of the 2014 Pennine Interbreed Championship. By Jim, from Silverdale’s James Burrows, out of Molly, bred in Morecambe by Phlip Rigby, Storm was bought by a local hill farmer.
Two further dogs sold for 2,400gns. First up was Northern Ireland’s Aidan Ward, of Omagh, with his March, 2011-born tri-coloured bitch, Lyn, who was bred a few miles down the road by fellow Irishman William Watts, being by his Max, out of Moy. Lyn is a grand daughter of York, who was 2005 World Trials champion in the hands of Gordon Watts, William’s son.
Also achieving 2,400gns later in the day was a January, 2012-born black and white dog, Sweep, from Northumbrian vendor Colin Balmbro, of Wooler, Alnwick. By AP Gallagher’s Jimmy, out of B Kelly’s Meg, Sweep fell to a Welsh buyer, CD Meek, of Maesteg.
One of the last broken dogs to take to the field, the tri-coloured three-year-old Rainow Fred, by Richard Millichap’s renowned Dewi Tweed, from Karen Bouch, of Copperthorns, Penrith, sold for 2,050gns (£2,152) to Bingley’s Keith Downs.
The sale again produced a strong all-round performance, with well over 100 dogs forward, 73 of which found new homes. The very best end were again in keen demand both for the trials field and as good work dogs, with plenty of people also looking for part-broken and unbroken dogs.
Broken registered dogs sold to 4,000gns, averaging £2,048 overall, with part-broken registered dogs selling to 1,050gns at an average of £689. Registered unbroken dogs peaked at 1,100gns and averaged £390.
Skipton next seasonal working dogs sale is the autumn fixture, scheduled for Friday, October 24. Catalogue entries close on October 10.