Ireland’s Michael Gallagher top dog again with 6,200gns Skipton sale Prices for record entry in unbroken pen peak at 1,600gns County Antrim’s Michael Gallagher, from Armoy, was top dog on price with a 6,200gns sale for another impeccably bred dog rising two-years-old at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual summer sale of working sheep dogs.

The eminent Irish breeder and trialist led the way with his August, 2016, black and white bitch, Vera, fully bred in Co Antrim, being by Allistair Lyttle’s Jim, last year’s Irish National Reserve Champion, out of Chris McNaughton’s prolific Mist.
Vera is a granddaughter of Littledale-based Ricky Hutchinson's much celebrated International Reserve Supreme Champion, Sweep, while her dam is also mother to Flo, sold at Skipton last year for 9,500gns, the leading price in 2017. Mist is also mother to two other top-notch Michael Gallagher dogs – his 2017 World finalist, Val, and 2018 Reserve Nursery Champion, Bud.
Vera could become a mother herself, having been mated mid-June to Blake, from Welsh breeder Sophie Holt, whose partner is the renowned handler and trialist Kevin Evans.
The Skipton top price performer returned to Ireland with Tony Kearins, another well-known handler from Dromard in Co Sligo, who has been trialing dogs for some 30 years and has twice represented both the Irish National and World teams. In Vera, Mr Kearins has another exciting trials prospect on his hands. She will also work on his Mayo Blackface sheep flock.
In addition, Mr Kearins was in action in the unbroken pen when selling a brace of 2017 youngsters by Llangwm Targaret. First up was his August-born tri-coloured bitch Fly, which made 520gns, bettered at 1,000gns by his July-born black and white dog, Bud, which travelled down to Derbyshire with Buxton’s D Sharratt.
The day’s second top price of 6,000gns fell soon after the start of the sale to Welshman Dewi Jenkins, of Tynygraig Farm, Tal-y-bont, Aberystwyth, with his 13-month-old black and white bitch, Bella, another first-rate Irish-bred bred dog by James McLaughlin’s 2016 Reserve Supreme Champion, Dan, out of Robert Hardman’s Morag, a full sister to Ricky Hutchinson's 2017 International Supreme Champion, Jock.
Bella found a new home north of the border with regular Skipton buyer Jock Sutherland, who again made the 1,000-mile round trip from his home at Sangormore, Durness, about as far north as you can get on the mainland. Mr Sutherland, who has won multiple trials over the years, considers his latest acquisition a promising nursery prospect and she will also go to work on his North Country Cheviot sheep flock.
Mr Sutherland also went to 2,800gns to claim Peg, a 30-month-old black and white bitch from Irish breeder Colm Doherty, of Quigley’s Point in Co Donegal. By Glencregg Silver, the 2014 International Supreme Champion from County Donegal’s James McGee, out of Co Derry-based Brian Quigley’s solid work bitch, Cindy, Peg already had four nursery wins and two open places under her belt.
Dewi Jenkins has been in sparkling form at Skipton of late, selling some high priced dogs, among them the 8,100gns top price achiever at this year’s February opener. At the latest renewal, the Welsh handler also made 4,100gns late in the day with the penultimate field-run entry, Mist, another 13-month-old bitch again by Glencregg Silver. The dog returned to Wales with D Lewis, of Llanwrda in Camarthenshire.
First-time Irish vendor Kieran McFadden, from Derryreel in Co Donegal, made an impressive debut when achieving 4,900gns with his January, 2017, black and white bitch, Sky, a granddaughter of Ricky Hutchinson’s Sweep by fellow Irish breeder Seamus Gormley’s Zac, out of M Doherty’s Meg.
Mr McFadden, a part-time sheep farmer who has been breeding dogs for 15 years – he also bred Co Donegal trialist Sammy Long’s 2015 Irish National Singles Champion, Moss – saw Sky find a new home high on the Cumbrian hills with Richard Harrison, who farms Swaledale sheep and beef suckler cattle at Shap and will be celebrating 40 years as a trialist in 2019.
He has won multiple opens over the years and plans to trial Sky during his milestone year. Mr Harrison’s 15-year-old son, Robert, is rapidly following in his father’s footsteps, having already won numerous new and young handler trials. Daughter Elizabeth, 18, also shares the family’s passion for working dogs.
Making 3,900gns late in the day was Dizzy, a two-year-old tri-coloured bitch from Cumbrian handler Harry Bouch, of Copperthorns, Penrith. Bred by G Moss, the granddaughter of the renowned Irish stud dog and multiple trials winner Knockmaa Jack fell to a buyer from Ireland.
Next best at 3,700gns was Cefneithin Mac, a 15-month-old fully home-bred black and white dog from North Wales Texel-cross and Welsh ewe sheep farmer and dog trainer, Sion Jones, who runs Cefn Eithin Sheep Dogs in Corwen. By his Straid Bob, out of Foxridge Gypsy, Mac joined Mid Wales handler Aled Bebb, of Llwydiarth, in Powys.
Another familiar face from Ireland, Willie Torrens, of Killen, Castlederg, in Co Tyrone, hit 3,600gns with his May, 2017, black and white bitch, Tara, by S Venney’s Glen, out of his own Jill. She was claimed by Stephen and Helen Robinson, of Dunsop Bridge.
Selling away at 3,000gns was Floss, a February, 2016, black and white bitch from local breeder Philip Melllin, of Oakworth. By Kevin Evans’ Jim, Floss had already proven herself on the trials field, winning three winter nurseries, with many other placings to her credit. She was also bought by Jock Sutherland on behalf of Shetland’s Elaine Williamson.
North Craven’s Shaun Richards, of Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs in Eldroth, made 2,900gns with his February, 2017, tri-coloured bitch, Templegate Sal, while Michael McAlister, of Glenariffe in Co Antrim, achieved 2,500gns with his February, 2016, black and white dog, Rick. The same price also fell to Grahams Liz, a July, 2016, black and white bitch from County Antrim’s Gerard Graham.
There was a record entry of 71 dogs in the unbroken pen, where top call of 1,600gns fell to a delighted first-time vendor from North Yorkshire, 21-year-old Laura Barnes, of Whitehorm Farm, Cropton, near Pickering, with her classy ten-month-old, tri-coloured bitch, Kate, by Jim, out of Jess, from another familiar face at Skipton, Irishman Pat Byrne, of Ballyglass in County Roscommon. The dam is by Mr Byrne’s highly regarded Lad.
Laura, who works at Bata Country Store in Kirkbymoorside, only started with sheep dogs three years ago, gaining inspiration from her sheep farming parents, Peter and Samantha Barnes, along with her “biggest supporters,” grandparents Mike and Ann Eddon. She is hoping to cement her impact in the working sheep dog world in the future.
After lively bidding, Kate fell to Leicestershire sheep farmers Ken and Jean Gill, from Burton Lazars, Melton Mowbray. While the couple were buying their first-ever dog at Skipton, they are no strangers to the mart, regularly purchasing North of England Mules, including red rosette winners, at the annual September ewe lamb sales. They currently have some 1,800 ewes, plus followers, the majority Mules, on which their new acquisition will be put to work.
Pat Byrne was himself on parade in the unbroken pen, achieving 1,000gns with the first entry into the ring, the January-born Shot, bettered at 1,110gns by his February-born black and white dog, Dan, which joined John Bell, of Howden, Selby. The well-known handler bought three pups in total for further improvement at home.
There were two further four-figure performers in the pup pen, both from Co Donegal vendors. Joe Doherty, of Ardagh Sheep Dogs, made 1,100gns with a January-born black and white bitch by James McGee’s legendary Seth, out of his own Queen, while Kevin McLaughlin achieved 1,000gns with his August-born black and white bitch, Bute, a granddaughter of J McLaughlin’s Ben. The respective buyers were GP Blyth, of Hull, and KJ Burrow, of Dent.
While trade for much of the day was not as strong as the two previous sales this year, there were, as usual, plenty of opportunities for potential buyers to choose from a good cross-section selection of readily affordable dogs for both work and trial.
From a total entry of 74 field-run broken dogs, registered bitches sold to 6,200gns at an average of £2,931, while registered dogs sold to 3,700gns, averaging £1,505. In the unbroken pen, registered bitches sold to 1,600gns, averaging £661, and registered dogs to 1,050gns at an average of £661, with two unregistered bitches both making 850gns.