Live working sheep dog sales make welcome return at Skipton Kevin Evans top dog on price again at 10,000gns Live working sheep dog sales, with field trials for fully broken dogs, made a welcome return to Skipton Auction Mart, when top dog again on price with a 10,000gns (£10,500) sale was leading Welsh handler and triallist Kevin Evans.

Mr Evans, of Llwynfedwen Farm, near Brecon, has dominated recent Skipton working dog sales, which were only able to be staged online due to the pandemic, with many of both his and his father, David’s, broken and unbroken dogs leading the field with multiple five-figure selling prices, among them new world records.

The resumption of live action, again supplemented by a real-time online viewing and bidding facility for those unable to attend in person, saw the legendary Powys handler take top call with his 15-month-old black and white bitch, Kemi Nell, yet another impeccably bred daughter of his European Nursery and Royal Welsh Champion, Tanhill Glen, who has had such a major impact on breeding in the Evans camp and on past leading price achievers at the North Yorkshire venue.

Out of Floss, herself sold for £13,500 at Skipton’s autumn sale last year, Nell found a new home north of the border with Dalrymple’s Kenny Donald and will be used on his Cheviot sheep flock and as a potential nursery trials dog.

The East Ayrshire handler is well-known in the Scottish working sheep dog world and is himself an accomplished triallist, winning Opens and representing the national team, including an appearance in the 2014 World Sheep Dog Trials. Mr Donald has both bought and sold dogs at Skipton in the past, including a £6,900 sale last October.

Kevin Evans also claimed 4,200gns with a second 2020-born black and white bitch, Tess, a granddaughter of the influential Tanhill Glen by fellow Welsh breeder Ross Games’ twice International Champion Roy. Tess returned to Wales and Powys when falling to a phone bidder, Sara Phillips, from Builth Wells.

Taking second top call of 5,500gns (£5,775) was Paul Bouch, of Kirkoswald, Lazonby, with his wife Karen’s rising two-year-old black and white bitch, Copperthorns Tess, which was among a quality litter of seven by Lockerbie breeder Dean Aitken’s Tweeddale Buzz, out of Mr Bouch’s own Kim.

It represented the highest-ever sale price achieved at Skipton for Mr Bouch, who farms 1,000 North of Enlgand Mules in Cumbria’s Lower Eden Valley. Tess will be used as work dog by her new owner, Red Rose cattle and sheep farmer Martin Taylor, of Haslingden in Rossendale.

Mr Bouch was also the first handler to take to the trials field when five fully trained dogs were offered for sale without real-time bidding. His newly-trained 18-month-old tri-coloured bitch, Paige earned a 2,500gns price tag when joining a frequent buyer from Wales, Betwys-y-Coed’s John Roberts.

Next best on price at 4,700gns (£4,935) was regular Lancastrian vendor, Carnforth’s Tony Birkett, with his March, 2019, black and white bitch, Mist, whose parents are top-notch dogs from two fellow Red Rose trialling legends. The sire is Jim Cropper’s twice International Brace Champion, Dan, the dam Ricky Hutchinson’s Denwyn Moya, who in May this year won for the second year running the Deerplay Double Gather Hill Championship staged near Bacup.

Mist, who had already finished third and fifth twice in nursery trials when still ‘green,’ according to her breeder, sold locally to Hampsthwaite’s Ian Lambert, who runs a 400-strong Scottish Blackface sheep flock on Menwith Hill.

Travelling down from the Scottish Borders, Hawick’s Robin Bell made 4,500gns (£4,725) with his fully home-bred 14-month-old black and white bitch, Gem, who comes from a long-established line stretching back some three decades for the now retired sheep and cattle farmer, who has been breeding dogs for some 45 years and retains a small flock of Blackies in order to put his charges through their paces. Gem also sold locally as a replacement work dog to Lothersdale husband and wife, Geoff and Margaret Booth, familiar faces both inside and outside the Skipton ring.

Mr Bell again took to the field with Gem’s full sister, Peg – both dogs had been impressing on Cheviot sheep – who added a further 3,300gns (£3,150) to his day’s earnings when this second black and white bitch joined D Wright, of Samlesbury, near Preston.

The remaining four dogs sold early on without real-time bidding all found new homes. Doing best at 3,500gns (£3,675) was Shep, an October, 2018, black and white dog from Lockerbie’s JA Common. The son of Ross Games’ Caefelin Clem returned north of the border to South Lanarkshire with Biggar’s D MacArthur.

Next up and also from the Scottish Borders was Kelso’s Pam Tapson, who achieved 3,000gns (£3,150) with an older five-year-old brown and white dog, Sam, sire of two litters of pups. The son of DJ Lyttle’s Jack fell to Dean Butler Agri Services in Cumbria.

The other two entries, which had both performed with credit in nursery trials, both made 1,700gns (£1,785). One was another five-year-old black and white dog, Gunnerwell Ted, from Phil Schellhorne, of Ferryhill, Co Durham, the second a March, 2018, black and white dog, Hilston Lad, from Malton’s Steve Aconley, which finished runner-up in the 2020 Ryedale Nursery Trial and third in the same year’s Ryedale Championship.

Back with the field dogs offered with real-time bidding, Craig Kempson, of Waterfoot in Rossendale, claimed 2,900gns (£3,045) with his two-year-old black and white dog, Jay, which travelled also travelled north with Dalrymple’s Ian Lockhart.

Richard Atkins, from Oakworth, above Keighley, made 2,500gns (£2,625) with his black and white dog, Malta Jock, a 16-month-old grandson of Belgian trialling ace Serge van der Zveep's well-known Gary and bred in Northern Ireland by Carlaine Thom, of Malta Border Collies in Co Tyrone. The buyer was Leicestershire’s D Smith.

The last of the 11 field-run dogs successful sold via real-time bidding was the tri-coloured November, 2018, Groesfaen Cai from long distance traveller Stephen Burton, of Ukfield in East Sussex. The son of Welshman Aled Owen’s Welsh National and International Supreme Champion, Llangwyn Cap, made 2,100gns (£2,205) when joining R&PR Banks, of West Burton in Bishopdale.

Top call in the unbroken pup pen was a 2,200gns (£2,310) real-time sale by Co. Durham regular Jean Howes with her well-bred six-month-old black and white bitch, Midge, a daughter of Ricky Hutchinson’s Jonah, out of the vendor’s own Redgate Midge, now with Red Rose breeder and triallist, Chris Taylor.

The buyer was Pickering’s Laura Barnes, who has herself sold both broken and unbroken dogs at Skipton. She will use her new acquisition both on the farm and on hill sheep through her work as a contract shepherd.

On a blistering day for both hot dogs and handlers, the new format Skipton sale was staged as a pilot to cater for underlying demand from both vendors and buyers who much prefer to do business via live sales rather timed online auctions, which have proved so successful during the pandemic.

And while the normal strong contingent of Irish vendors was excluded because of continuing travel restrictions, an albeit smaller than usual, yet healthy attendance of potential buyers was supplemented by keen online interest, with over 40 people registered as potential buyers, along with several hundred remote onlookers across the entire sale. The outcome was a very good clearance rate.

Skipton’s next working sheep dog sale on Tuesday, August 10, will revert to a timed online format only to cater for interested parties from both near and far, with the winter sale on Friday, October 15, seeing a return to the trials field, again complemented by a real-time online viewing and bidding facility.

The July sale was sponsored by WuffitMix, a division of Clitheroe-based Dugdale Nutrition. North of England Mules for the gather on the trials field were kindly loaned by David Pighills, of Barden. They were purchased out of Skipton’s high profile NEMSA ewe lamb sales last year and will be among large batches of shearlings returning for sale this autumn.