Skipton sheepdog trade reaches 3300gns

Red rose handler Shaun Richards, who has regularly sold at Craven Cattle Marts’ seasonal working sheep dog sales since their inception in 1995, achieved his best-ever price at the early Autumn fixture at Skipton Auction Mart. (Fri, Oct 30).

Mr Richards, of Watson Laithe, Hapton, Burnley, sold his two-year-old tri-coloured bitch Tib for the day’s top call of 3300 guineas to South Wales trialist Nigel Watkins, of Panthowell, Carmarthenshire.

The well thought of Scottish-bred smooth-coated, prick-eared bitch, by D McDonald’s Dave, out of Michael Shearer’s Bess, has yet to experience the nursery trials arena, but has been well prepared for the task by Mr Richards following extensive work on his hill flock.

Tib proved to be one the sharpest dogs ever to run a trial at Skipton, demonstrating an excellent outrun, lift, fetch and drive. She responded well to both voice and whistle, dropping like a stone at every command – and now appears primed to show her true potential.

Mr Richards recalled: “On my first visit to Skipton 14 years ago, I sold a dog called Pete for 1600gns. I have now achieved my highest ever price. Skipton is the top place to be selling dogs. Its popularity and levels of trade continue to improve. There are always willing buyers for good dogs.”

This time around, Mr Richards brought a trio of three promising performers. As well as heading the prices, he sold Jan, an 18-month-old black and white bitch, for 1500gns to Welshman John Lightfoot, of Pentre Isa, Llandegla, Clwyd, and a three-year-old black and white dog, Spot, for 1450gns to Scotsman J Sutherland, who is based at Durness on the north coast of Scotland

Nigel Watkins purchased a total of four dogs. He paid 2100gns for a February, 2008-born red and white dog Mack, a good all-rounder placed first time out in his junior trial, from Northern Irish handler WJ Torrens, of Killen, Castlederg, County Tyrone.

 His other two acquisitions were a supplemented entry dog from Jean Howes, of Redgate, County Durham, at 1500gns, and a successful 1250gns bid for an 18-month-old registered black and white dog from fellow Welshman and Skipton regular Emrys Jones, of Tal-y-Bont.

 The day began well when the first dog to take the field, Mist, a tri-coloured January 2006-born bitch from Barry Hopwood, of Mold, North Wales, sold for 2750gns to a buyer from Cumbria. Mist is by FV Roberts’ Spot, out of IB Jones’ Mist.

Wullie Stevenson, from the Arran Sheepdog Centre, based on the Scottish island, achieved a price of 2600gns for Jan, a January, 2007-born black and white mottled bitch by two N McVicar dogs, Spot and Meg.  The buyer was Andrew Armstrong, of Kirkoswald, Penrith, who works on the Lowther Park Farm Estate and will work his new acquisition on their 2000 sheep.

The Welsh were particularly well represented and another familiar face at Skipton, Huw Francis, of Penllwyn, Powys, had the best of the younger entries when his 16-month-old tri-coloured, nursery-ready bitch Elwy Penny – Pen – was knocked down for 2200gns to Scottish buyer Joe McRobert, of Fingland Farm, Moffat, Dumfriesshire.

Pen is by Welsh Open trialist Mr Francis’s own Moss, by fellow Welsh breeder, Bodfari-based Arthur Roberts’ Elwy Roxy. Moss has produced some quality progeny and his last four Skipton-sold dogs have averaged 2200gns.

 Mr McRobert said he has secured some good dogs at Skipton over the years, among them the Welsh-bred Joe, who was sold on to Bobby Dalziel, of Ettrick, Selkirk, and went on to win the International Supreme Championship in 2006 in the hands of the renowned Scottish trialist.

John Lightfoot also sold at the fixture. His well-bred 23-month-old black and white dog Hari, a son of Alan Jones’ Bet, winner of the Welsh National trials last year, made 1820gns when acquired by Midlands buyer John Porter, of Broughton Astley.

John Bell, of Howden, Selby, who has headed the Skipton prices a record-breaking 12 times in the past seven years, was again prominent when selling his April, 2008, black and white dog Mac, by 2009 International driving champion, Chorley-based Tom Lawrenson’s Spot, for 1500gns to Irish handler Allistair Lyttle, of Pettigo, County Donegal.

 Craven Cattle Marts’ general manager Jeremy Eaton said: “Vendors and purchasers from all parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland now attend Skipton working dog sales and it has become a top international venue.

 “It’s also a regular and enjoyable day out for many people, offering plenty of opportunities not only to sell and buy quality dogs, but to exchange pups and even to ‘cover’ bitches, as well as meeting fellow handlers socially.”

 With 79 dogs forward, well-broken dogs and well-bred pups were in strong demand, though dogs requiring finishing were harder to place. Broken registered dogs averaged £1439, with part-broken dogs selling to 1450gns unbroken dogs to 580gns  and pups to 720gns