Welsh and Irish lead the way at Skipton working dogs autumn highlight Welsh and Irish dogs, the latter in particular, had the pick of the trade at Skipton Auction Mart’s autumn working sheep dog sale, the final seasonal fixture of 2016. (Friday, October 28) The day’s top call of 5,800gns (£6,090) fell to a November, 2014, tri-coloured bitch, Llangwm Jen, from North Wales sheep farmer and dog trainer Sion Jones, who runs Cefn Eithin Sheep Dogs in Corwen.

Jan is by Norwegian breeder LK Flaten’s Billy, out of fellow Welsh breeder and leading triallist, Aled Owen’s Llangwm Chili. “She is the best dog I have ever had,” said Mr Jones, who was achieving his highest sale price ever.

Jan returned to Wales with a regular buyer at the venue, well-known handler and Welsh triallist Nigel Watkins, of Panthowell, Llanoldewsant, Llangadog, who said he would retain the dog as a promising trials prospect.

Brian White and Aoife Smith, a young Irish couple from Naul in North County Dublin, who sold five fully broken dogs for over 16,000gns in total at Skipton’s May dog sale, returned with another two dogs and two bitches, and did extremely well again when netting a combined 15,120gns (£15,876) for their first-rate foursome .

First up at 5,700gns was the two-year-old tri-coloured dog Braehead Sid, by another renowned Sid, bred by Northern Ireland trialling legend, County Donegal’s James McGee, of Glencregg Sheepdogs in Creggan, Ballybofey.

Sid was also the father of Cap, who was sold at Skipton in May by County Donegal’s Padraig Doherty, of Ardagh Sheepdogs, for 14,100 guineas (£14,805), a new world record price for a working sheep dog at an official sale.

The latest Sid, whose dam is Killiebrae Laddie, bred in Cumbria by Derek Scrimgeour, found a new home with an East Anglian-based working shepherd.

Soon after, Mr White made his second appearance on the trials field with Jill, a two-year-old red and white bitch bred in County Mayo. She is by Michael Hynes’ Knockmaa Jack, out of Meg, from farmer and 2016 Irish team member, Michael Hastings.

Jill found a new home on the west coast of Norway when sold for 4,500gns to sheep farmer, trainer and part-time wool handler, John Gerhard Haakull. She will be put to work on his small flock of Scottish Blackface sheep at Haugesund, between Bergen and Stavanger.

Next up was the 22-month-old tri-coloured bitch, Fly, by Aled Owen’s 2015 International champion, Cap, out of Welsh breeder Peter Blain’s Floss. Fly, who gave birth to eight pups in her first litter, joined a buyer from the Midlands at 2,700gns.

The fourth and youngest dog from the couple, who farm pedigree Simmental cattle and Texel-cross and Suffolk-cross ewes, again had impeccable breeding. The 14-month-old black and white Monty is by Irish team member and 2016 International finalist James McCloskey’s Sweep, out of JH Herdman’s Fly, whose own sire was Aled Owen’s former World Sheep Dog Trials champion, Roy. Their final entry made 2,200gns when finding a new home just across the border in Lancashire with Briercliffe’s Richard Westall.

Ireland was in the limelight again when James McClusky, of Carndonagh on the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal, achieved 5,000gns with his November, 2013, black and white dog, Kinloch Kai, by Kevin Evans’ Jimmy, out of Angie Driscoll’s Kinloch Penny.

Kai is already proven on the trials field and since completing his nurseries in 2015 and 2016 has amassed 65 open points, rattling up five open wins and numerous other placings for Mr McCluskey, who competed in the 2016 Supreme and finished runner-up for the second time in this year’s Irish National. The dog, which achieved the vendor’s highest ever price at Skipton, was purchased anonymously on behalf of a North American buyer.

Welsh triallist Kevin Evans, of Penclyn Farm, Modrydd, Brecon, Powys, who regularly sells well at Skipton, was on the mark again when achieving 4,300gns with his December, 2013, bitch, Pen-y-Borough Fell  (Nell), by Katy Cropper’s Zac, out of North Craven-based Shaun Richards’ Meg.

Nell fell to County Antrim’s Kieran McFadden, buying on behalf of fellow Country Antrim sheep farmer Seamus O’Keane, of Carnlough, and will be put to work on his 2,000-strong Blue Faced Leicester and Mule flocks.

A second 4,300gns dog was the very last of the 100 broken dogs entered to take to the trials field. Bill, a two-year-old black and white dog from Ireland’s  Robert McKee, of Kilkeel, County Down, is extremely well bred, being by former One Man and His Dog champion, John Maggin’s Irish team dog Mozz, out of H McKee’s Meg, herself a product of Tom Lawrenson’s Spot.

The buyer was Bob Wilden, a sheep farmer from Bramford, near Ipswich in Suffolk, and Bill will be put to work on his flock of pure-bred Lleyns.

Two dogs sold at 4,200gns. First up was the four-year-old tri-coloured bitch, Fly, from Irish breeder Colm Doherty, of Quigley’s Point in County Donegal. The dog has already performed with great distinction on the trials field, including finishing fifth in the North of Ireland nursery final and also with two open wins to her credit.

Fly is fully Irish-bred by Mr Doherty’s own multiple trials winner, Dan, a half brother to James McGee’s Becca, out of Paul Doherty’s Queen. The buyer was well-known Beltex sheep breeder Andrew John Wood, of Whittingham, Preston. He said: “It’s a cracking dog – I am well suited. I told it to sit and it was still there an hour later!”

The second 4,200gns dog, another Welsh entry, was the March, 2014, black and white bitch, Pentwyncock Bonnie, from Brecon’s Sophie Holt, who has been handling dogs for ten years and who represented the Welsh team for the first time in this year’s International.

Bred in South Wales by Mike Hall (by hisTom out of Cass), Bonnie – she also claimed the highest price ever achieved by Sophie -  has been used as a work dog on Welsh hill Cheviots and will continue to prove her worth with her new owner, Scottish shepherd K Donald, of Dalrymple in Ayrshire.

Nigel Watkins, who described Skipton as “the best sale there is to come for dogs - there is nothing like it,” also went to 3,800gns to secure another well-bred almost fully broken ten-month-old black and white dog, Spot, on behalf of a customer in Wales. He was sold by another Irishman, J Hamilton, of Glenarm in County Antrim, and is by B McAllister’s Spot, out of A McKeegan’s Meg.

Also selling well at 3,600gns was Skye, a three-year-old tri-coloured bitch from Colin Wilson, of Grange-over-Sands on Morecambe Bay. By AD Scrimgeour’s Mirk, out of ST Birkett’s Jess, Sky returned to Lancashire with N Brown, of Caton, Lancaster.

Regular Skipton top price achiever Shaun Richards, who runs Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs in Eldroth, above Settle, hit 3,000gns with his two-year-old black and white bitch, Mist, who was bred in Lancashire by Jim Cropper’s Black, out of Eli Tattersall’s Gwen. Bought as a pup and trained on by the well-known handler, the dog found a new home north of the border in South Lanarkshire with Strathaven’s Alan Nielson.

Other dogs to achieve 2,000gns and over were:
2,900gns – Tim, a two-year-old tri-coloured dog from Welsh breeder, Huw Francis, of Dyffryn, Powys.
2,800gns – Roy, a two-year-old black and white dog from RG Holt, of Rossendale.
2,700gns – Cal, a January, 2014, black and white dog from Kieran McFadden, of County Antrim.
2,650gns – Chip, a 15-month-old tri-coloured dog from N Hirell, of Lifford, County Donegal.
2,500gns – Ruby, a December, 2014, black and white bitch from Tony Birkett, of Carnforth.
2,400gns – Spike, a July, 2015, tri-coloured dog from Leighton Bancroft, of Barnoldswick, who also made 2,000gns with his July, 2015, tri-coloured dog, Zac,
2,300gns – Elwy Tilly, a two-year-old black and white bitch from Brynley Williams, of Holywell.
2,200gns – Rob, a two-year-old black and white dog from Carnforth’s Colin Birkett.
2,200gns – Kemi Pop, a 2013-born tri-coloured bitch from R Games, of Powys.
2,150gns – Moss, a June, 2015, tri-coloured dog from D Armstrong, of Brampton.

Trade in the unbroken pen was brisk, with Wales again responsible for the top price entry, a heady 1,450gns for a nine-month-old black and white dog, Chip, from Lyn Howells, who farms South Wales mountain sheep with his partner Rachel Connick near Port Talbot.

By Kevin Evans’ Tan Hill Glen, out of LM Howells’ Tytalwyn Lyn, Chip found in new home in Howden, near Selby, with John Bell, another regular top price achiever at Skipton. He may well return there at some point in the future.

Close behind on 1,300gns was an August, 2015, black and white bitch, Groesfaen Jess, from Northern Ireland’s G O’Malley, of Achill in County Mayo. By Aled Owen’s Llangwm Cap, out of G Evans’ Sara, the part-broken dog found a new home in Cumbria with Brough’s Frank Satterthwaite.

A further four-figure achiever at 1,200gns was a 12-month-old black and white bitch, Kate, from W Carey, of Kilbeggan, County Westmeath. It returned to Ireland with Evan Christian, of Kenmare, County Kerry.

Another busy day at the UK’s leading working sheep dog sale venue saw 147 dogs on parade, with 65 successful sales on the trials field – they worked on North of England Mules running as fours - and 31 in the unbroken pen.

The very best broken dogs met a good trade, a number attracting overseas interest, with unbroken dogs also readily sold to buyers seeking genuine work dogs. Trade in the unbroken pen, where goods were sold simultaneously with field dogs during the course of the day, was notably strong among buyers looking for a project over the winter months

Prices and Averages: Broken section: 22 registered dogs from 350gns to 5,700gns (av £2,117), 38 registered bitches from 350gns to 5,800gns (av £2,059), 3 unregistered dogs from 1,700gns to 2,200gns (£2,100), 2 unregistered bitches at 800gns and 1,350gns (av £1,129)

Unbroken section: 13 registered dogs from 80gns to 1,450gns (av £612), 16 registered bitches from 400gns to 1,300gns (av £709), 1 unregistered dog at 180gns and 1 unregistered bitch at the same price.

Seasonal working sheep dog sales return to Skipton in February next year.