Robust trade for quality broken dogs, which averaged over £2,000, was once more evident at the autumn working sheep dog sale at Skipton Auction Mart, which again attracted widespread interest from both vendors and buyers, notably strong Irish and Welsh contingents.
Skipton Auction Mart’s general manager Jeremy Eaton noted: “Careful buyers were able to take advantage of a steady trade and buy well broken dogs at below recent trading levels. We think this was in part due to livestock farm buyers bracing themselves for an expensive winter.”
The highlight, already much publicised, was a new world record price of 8,000 guineas (£8,400) at an official sale for Marchup Midge, an 18-month-old black and white bitch from Shaun Richards, of Watson Laithe, Hapton, Burnley, bought by Suffolk shepherd Eddie Thornalley, of Worlington.
It beat the previous world record price of 6,000gns (£6,300), also achieved at Skipton in February last year, by a 13-month-old bitch from John Bell, of Howden, Selby.
Midge, described as “the best bitch I have ever had” by Mr Richards – he has now had six dogs from the same litter - was bred by a world champion. She is by Roy, the 2008 World Sheep Dog Trials and 2007 International Supreme champion from Welshman Aled Owen, of Penyfed, Ty-Nant, Corwen, Denbighshire. Her dam is Calderdale Sue, bred in Trawden by Stuart Bennett, and now owned locally by Andrew Throup, of Silsden, who bred Midge.
She is a full sister to Marchup Sam, sold by Mr Richards at Skipton’s summer working dogs sale this year for 5,000 guineas (£5,250)
Mr Thornalley, shepherd for Andrew Foulds at Elveden, has now bought four dogs from Mr Richards at Skipton, and his latest acquisition will be used primarily as a work dog on the East Anglian flock, principally Mules, some of which were purchased at the big North of England Mule Sheep Association (NEMSA) sales at Skipton.
Midge will also be used in local nursery trials by Mr Thornalley, who is a member of the East Anglian Sheep Dog Society.
Next best on price at 3,900gns (£4,095) was Jock, a three-year-old black and white dog from Northern Ireland’s Ivan Stevenson, of Broughshane, Ballymena, Co Antrim. The talented home bred, out of his own Meg, by Glen, from fellow Co Antrim breeder John Murphy, of Shanes Castle, is already an open trial winner with good qualifying points. He found a new home in Wales.
Mr Stevenson is also well known as triallist, having represented Ireland on five occasions. He was among the championship-winning team at last year’s World Sheep Dog Trials in Cumbria, where he also qualified for the semi-finals as an individual competitor.
Another Irish breeder Kieran McFadden, of Ballyportery South, Dunloy, Ballymena, making his second visit to Skipton, stepped forward with his top-class work and trial two-year-old brown and white dog Tad, still able to compete in nurseries, but now ready for the open trials arena. By Jock Welsh’s Tanhill Sweep, out of ET Fletcher’s Meg, he sold for 2,900gns (£3,045) to another Welsh buyer.
Another Skipton regular from over the water, County Down’s John Maginn was again to the fore with his 20-month-old home-bred tri-coloured bitch Belle (by Moss out of Amy), who has already been placed in novice trials and is well primed for further progress in nurseries.
Mr Maginn, a former Irish National champion who also represented his country in the 2011 World Trials, and his wife Liz run Dunmore Hill Boarding Kennels at the foot of the Mourne Mountain in Glasdrumman, near Annalong, Newry.
A familiar face at the venue for the past five years, Mr Maginn, who headed the selling prices at 4,600gns (£4,830) at last year’s late Spring sale, saw his latest dog knocked down for 2,350gns (£2,467.50) to a further buyer from Wales. “I like Skipton – there is very good trade for all types of dogs,” said Mr Maginn.
Jean Howes, of Redgate Lodge, Redgate, County Durham, achieved 2,500gns (£2,625), with her two-year-old black and white bitch Redgate Trim, bred by her father, trialling legend Bill Skidmore and by his Star, out of Trim. She is destined for Ireland.
Tess, a smart smooth-coated four-year-old black and white bitch with 15 places in nursery trials to her credit from Rossendale breeder I Dungworth, of Water, sold for 2,300gns (£2,415) to a North Yorkshire purchaser. She is by D Whitehead’s Roy, out of Alf Kyme’s Meg.
Another fully trained Welsh-bred dog to command interest was a three-year-old tri-coloured bitch, Hiroethod Meg, from Skipton regular Emrys Jones, of Sarn-Faen Farm, Tal y Bont, Gwynedd, in the Snowdonia National Park. By AG Williams’ Eryri Jim, out of JB Jones’ Meg, she returned to Wales when selling for 2,200gns (£2,310) to A Davies, of Powys.
Mr Jones later stepped forward with his earnings to purchase a new dog at 2,200gns (£2,310) from near neighbour Keith Williams, of Bryn Melyn. The 16-month-old black and white dog, acquired as a six-month-old from the Hereford area by Mr Williams, is by Spot, from Lancashire’s 2011 World Sheep Dog Trials fourth-placed competitor Tom Lawrenson, of Brindle, out of PH Blenkinsop’s Nell. “Drift showed plenty of power and I will be trialling her next year,” said Mr Jones.
Another Irish entrant, this time from the south, to top 2,000gns with two progressive fully trained three-year-old black and white dogs was Eugene Feeney, of Streedagh in Co Sligo, who was making his second visit to Skipton.
Mac, bred in Wales by RFM Ellis’s Twm and Nel, rejoined Jed Watson, of Yelverton in Devon, from whom Mr Feeney originally bought the dog, for 2,150gns (£2,257.50), while Joe, by Alistair Lyttle’s Nap, out of Michael Gilmartin’s Maid, sold for 2,000gns (£2,100) to sheep farmers D&J Day, of Walkden, Manchester.
Lake District handler N Gill, of Stonethwaite Farm, Borrowdale, also achieved 2,000gns, with his November, 2010-born black and white bitch Sue (by SN Wilkinson’s Highgate Jim out of WG Watt’s Lucky). Described in the catalogue as “very green, needs bringing on,” she found the right man for the job when joining the 2006 English National Trials champion Ray Edwards in Chumleigh, Devon.
Notable among the younger entries at 1,850gns (£1,942.50) was Ralph, an 11-month-old tri and mottled dog with excellent future potential for both work and trial from Northern Ireland breeder John Curran, of Reyfad in County Fermanagh. He is by Welsh triallist Kevin Evans’ renowned Spot, out of Mr Curran’s own Lady.
With a total entry of 129 dogs and pups forward, over half of which found new homes, broken registered dogs sold well to average £2,080, with registered part-broken dogs selling to 1,450gns, at an average of £805.