Shaun Richards top dog on price with 4,500gns sale at storm-hit Skipton, Hardy handlers travelling from as far afield as Scotland, North Wales and Sussex were among those who braved the weather and Storm Eunice to run and buy dogs at Skipton’s opening working sheep dog sale of 2022.

And while the weather did prevent the attendance of several travelling customers, it failed to dampen the spirits of both vendors and a scattered, but enthusiastic audience ringside. Importantly, the sale had the added advantage of both a phone and online real time bidding facility, so catering for potential stay-at-home, stay safe buyers.

It was local North Craven handler Shaun Richards, who runs Pen-y-Borough Sheep Dogs at the foot of Pen-y-Ghent in Eldroth, who finished top dog on price with a 4,500gns sale of his 18-month-old fully broken tri-coloured bitch, Nell, a talented all-rounder by local handler, Wigglesworth-based Peter Mitchell’s Jaff, out of Flowerscar Jess, now with Littledale’s Nathan Brown, though bred by Todmorden sheep farmer Robert Fielden.

The regular past Skipton top price achiever – he also offers dog training to both individuals and groups and has just launched his own website – acquired Nell six months earlier and further honed her skills through work on both cattle and sheep with lambs at foot.

She headed further north to Cumbria with Alistair Thompson, of Poppy Farm, Selside, Kendal, and will be used solely as a work dog by the 29-year-old sheep and cattle farmer, who also runs his own mobile sheep clipping and dipping business.

Second top call of 4,200gns fell to the next runner on the trials field, Pentir Mick, a May, 2020, black, white and tan Welsh-bred dog from Ceredigion’s Daniel Rees, of Ystrad Meurig, himself a past vendor and purchaser at the North Yorkshire venue.

By Northumberland-based handler and trialist, Michelle Anderson's Red, out of Pentir Jen, from Welshman Glynne Jones, who farms near Bangor in Gwynedd – he set a new world record price of £7,600 for an unbroken puppy just turned nine-weeks-old at Skipton last May – Mick travelled north of the border to Caithness to join another former buyer and successful telephone bidder, Tommy McPhee in Reiss, south of John o' Groats.

Mr Rees added to his earnings when also claiming 3,100gns with the first broken dog sold on the trials field, the tri-coloured Pentir Ace, a litter brother to his 4,200gns dog, which also headed up to Scotland when falling to Jack Craig, of Rankinston, a small village in East Ayrshire’s Doon Valley.

From Durham, Middleton-in-Teesdale’s Martin Wilson, made 3,800gns with his three-year-old black and white bitch, Fly, by MC Andrews’ Glen, out of MF Stobart’s Tes, who found a new home down country in Worcestershire with Warwick’s Nicholas Gardner.

From the same neck of the woods, Durham regular Jean Howes claimed 3,500gns with her two-year-old Irish-bred black and white bitch, Nell, by Pat Byrne’s Jim, of R McLaughlin’s Lyn, heading to the Scottish Borders with Hawick’s AR Bell & Son.

Jean then re-invested some of her day’s earnings when paying top price in the unbroken pen of 1,000gns for a 13-month-old black, white and mottled bitch, Hendre Casi, from Welshpool’s Henry Hughes. Untouched due to ill health, Casi is by renowned Welsh trialist, Kevin Evan’s red dog, Spot, acquired from Germany and proving his worth as another top-class sire in the Welshman’s camp, out of DT Edwards’ Bell.

Back with the broken dogs, hitting 2,800gns was a long distance traveller from East Sussex, Stephen Burton, of Uckfield, with his April, 2019, black and white dog, Wozzy Moss, by another top-notch Kevin Evans dog, Derwen Doug, a European Nursery Champion and dual Welsh and International Brace Champion. Out of B Griffiths’ Jill and already placed in nursery trials, Moss heads to South Lakeland in Cumbria with Milnthorpe’s W Garnett & Son.

Also representing Wales, Rhun Morgan, of Bancyllyn, Aberystwyth, achieved a 3,000gns sale with his March, 2019, black and white dog, Sweep, who has also been placed in nursery trials and will now run north of the border in Peeblesshire with new owner J McCran.

Of the 23 dogs forward, 15 found new homes, other broken dogs selling from 600gns to 2,000gns, plus a brace of pups at 450gns and 350gns, with the fixture, though weather-affected, again offering a range of dogs to suit most tastes and pockets, Riverdale Gundogs sponsored.

Future working sheep dog sales this year at Skipton are scheduled for Fridays, May 21, August 13 and October