Irish couple top dogs again with fabulous Skipton foursome Unbroken pen sees new record high price of 2,500gns North County Dublin’s Brian White and Aoife Smith were again the standout performers by a country mile when heading the day’s prices at 7,200 guineas (£7,560) and selling four dogs in total for a combined 20,100gns (£21,105) at Skipton Auction Mart’s summer sale of working sheep dogs, which also saw a new all-time record high price of 2,500gns in the unbroken pen.

It proved the most successful day ever at the UK’s leading working dogs sale venue for the young Irish farming couple, who hail from Naul and have taken the dog world by storm of late with their impeccably-bred top-notch charges. Their latest quartet was again subject to intense pre-sale interest when promoted via social media on Brian White Sheepdogs’ facebook and youtube pages.

Brian set the ringside alight right at the outset when just the second entrant to take to the trials field with his first dog, Ben, who sparkled to become top dog on price. The 17-month-old black and white is by Littledale-based Ricky Hutchinson's celebrated International Reserve Supreme Champion Sweep, who has bred numerous trial winners across the globe and was also responsible for Brian and Aoife’s Moss, who clinched top call of 9,200gns (£9,660) at Skipton’s previous sale in May.

Out of fellow Irish breeder and triallist Pat Murphy’s Ballyglass Rosie, Ben was claimed as another highly promising prospect by a familiar face and regular top price buyer at Skipton, renowned Welsh handler and triallist Nigel Watkins, of Panthowell, Llanoldewsant, Llangadog.

The couple also achieved the day’s second highest price of 5,700gns with their 29-month-old black and white dog, Jack, fully home-bred by another fellow Irishman Pat Byrne, of Knockcroghery in County Roscommon, who took home the highly talented Moss back in May.

Jack, by Mr Byrne’s Lad, out of Kerri, was purchased by Welshman Kevin Evans, of Penclyn Farm, Modrydd, Brecon, Powys, another well-known handler and leading triallist, who regularly purchases quality dogs at Skipton.

Brian returned to the field late on with the penultimate runner and the couple’s only bitch on the day, the 21-month-old Malta Bess, bred by Northern Ireland’s Carlaine Thom, of Malta Border Collies in County Tyrone. The sire was Jake, from Scottish team member Norman McDonald, of Dalbeattie in Dumfries and Galloway.

Bess, another accomplished all-rounder, fell to a successful phone bid of 3,800gns from Kathy Acres, a Canadian-born private buyer now living in Hedon, near Hull, who keeps a small flock of Hebridean and mixed Swaledale sheep in a field near her home, on whom Bess will go to work

 “Sheep dogs are my passion. I needed a new dog to replace my old one, who was injured. I was keen to get a dog with Scottish breeding. I’d been looking for almost a year and then Bess came along. She fits the bill perfectly,” explained Kathy, who is also keen to trial her new and already much cherished acquisition. She did some trialling in Canada.

Earlier, the couple, who farm pedigree Simmental cattle and Texel-cross and Suffolk-cross ewes, achieved another solid price of 3,400gns with their 16-month-old tri-coloured dog, Quories Nap, bred by County Galway’s Louise Amos, of Quories Border Collies in Cuppanagh, Woodlawn, Ballinasloe, and a litter brother to her own Quories Bean, who made 5,000gns when sold by Louise at Skipton’s previous sale. By Nip, from International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) director Angie Blackmore, Nap fell to a regular buyer from Devon.

The new record venue unbroken pen price of 2,500gns, beating the previous record by 500gns, fell to Roy, a seven-month-old black and white dog from first-time Welsh vendor Eifion Hope, of Trefelli Farm St Davids in Pembrokeshire. Roy is by Kevin Evans’ Jim, who won this year’s South Wales Nursery championship, out of the first litter of 11 pups from Mr Hope’s own Dot. Mr Hope, who farms sheep, predominantly Mules, and suckler cattle, and has also won local nursery and open trials, sold the record price Roy to an undisclosed buyer from Lancashire.

Another first-time vendor all the way from Dartmoor in Devon who made an impressive debut with a brace of dogs that together netted 9,600gns was David Cole. First up for the hill sheep farmer was his fully Welsh-bred November, 2014-born tri-coloured bitch, Cruglas Jess, by TA Roberts’ Groesfaen Jac, out of DH Roberts’ Eryri Ffan.

Acquired from a neighbour, Jess, who sold for 4,900gns, had won nursery trials in the hands of Mr Cole, who has himself this year qualified for the English National, due to be run the week following the Skipton sale, with another dog, Moss.

Mr Cole returned later in the day to claim 4,700gns with a second tri-coloured dog, his home-bred August, 2015, Mirk, by another Mirk, who is an extremely well-known stud dog from Welsh triallist Robert Ellis, out of the first litter of the vendor’s own Moonspark Flow.

Mr Cole, who normally trains and sells on dogs to fellow farmers, said the five hour drive up from Devon had been well worthwhile. “I had two dogs that were a bit more special, so decided Skipton was the place to come to sell them because of its reputation.  It’s a fantastic result,” he said.

Regular North Craven vendor Shaun Richards, of Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs in Eldroth, near Settle, again did well at 4,000gns with his 15-month-old black and white bitch, Fly, another product of Ricky Hutchinson’s Sweep, out of Irish breeder D Gaffney’s Becca. Mr Richards also made 2,400gns with his December, 2016, tri-coloured dog, Mot.

A second dog to sell at 4,000gns was a nursery trial-winning September, 2014, bitch Jill, from another regular Irish vendor, William Torrens, of Castlederg, Belfast. The buyer was well-known Cumbrian triallist Arthur Temple, of Holmrook.

Again doing well from Ireland was County Antrim’s Michael McAlister, of Glenariffe, who achieved 3,500gns with his September, 2015, black and white dog, Pen-Rhiw-Glais Lad, by Kevin Evans’ North Wales Nursery Champion and All Wales Reserve Nursery Champion Moss, out of J O’Shea’s Molly. Mr McAlister also made 2,900gns with his ten-month-old tri-coloured bitch Yellowhill Ellie.

Chris Balmbro, from Wooler in Northumberland, achieved 3,150gns with another two-year-old dog, the tri-coloured Spot, out of his own Jan, by Bobby Dalziel’s renowned trials dog Spot.

Northern Ireland’s Susan Venney, of Rossglass, County Down, hit 3,100gns with her 14-month-old black and white dog, Malta Ollie, a promising nursery trials prospect bred out of Carlaine Thom’s Malta Pip, by T Kennedy’s Joe. The same vendor also sold a second August, 2015, black and white dog, Sweep, for 2,600gns.

Back in the unbroken pen, also catching the eye was a four-month-old Irish-bred black and white bitch pup, Jan, from Enda McManamon, of Newport in County Mayo, who was knocked down for a heady 1,500gns. She is home-bred by McManamon’s own Glencregg Jess, herself a daughter of Glencregg Silver, supreme champion in the hands of James McGee at the 2014 International Trials.

By fellow Irish breeder Brendan McAllister’s Spot, Jan was snapped up by a Scottish buyer, Fiona Younie, from Garbeg, near Drumnadrochit, who made the 14-hour round trip from Invernesshire on what was her first-ever visit to Skipton and her furthest-ever foray south of the border. Fiona was over the moon when successfully claiming the record price pup, which will eventually go to work on her Scottish Blackface, Cheviot and Suffolk sheep, and Simmental-cross cattle.

Hill sheep farmer Mr McManamon, who runs Derrylahan Texels, consigned a total of four black and white dogs pups from the same litter and all sold well to average 1,012gns. The other three were Lad, who made 1,200gns, Taff 850gns and Jock 500gns.

Back on the trials field, other broken dogs making 2,000-3,000gns were:
3,000gns – Gillieglen Mist, November, 2016, black and white bitch from Peter Martin, of Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross.
2,800gns – Meg, two-year-old black and white bitch from Gary Conway, of Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
2,800gns – Jess, 17-month-old black and white bitch from Harry Bouch, of Copperthorns, Penrith.
2,600gns – Shep, May, 2016, black and white dog from Wreham’s Wyn Williams.
2,600gns – Cap, two-year-old black and white dog from AL Jones, of Bala, Gwynedd.
2,500gns - Fly, August, 2014, black and white bitch from J Mullan, of Limavady, County Londonderry.
2,300gns  - Kilcreen Joe, 18-month-old tri-coloured dog from John Bell, of Selby, North Yorkshire.
2,300gns – Tim, three-year-old tri-coloured dog from AR Hunter, of Leyburn.
2,200gns – Jill, two-year-old black and white bitch from Robin Bell, of Hawick.
2,100gns – Nell, two-year-old black and white bitch from Frank Cleary, of Barnacre, Preston.
2,000gns – Don, two-year-old black and mottled dog from Ian Lockhart, of Dalrymple Ayrshire.

The sale attracted another strong entry of 142 dogs, with impressive averages recorded for field-run entries, where registered dogs averaged £2,580 and registered bitches £2,584. Unregistered bitches averaged £2,625, with unregistered dogs selling to £850.  In the unbroken section, registered dogs averaged £705 and registered bitches £617, with unregistered dogs selling to 280gns and unregistered bitches to 200gns.

Skipton’s next and final dog sale of 2017 is scheduled for Friday, October 13. Catalogue entries close on September 29.