NOT one, but two new world record prices for working sheep dogs at an official sale have again been est-ablished at Skipton Auction Mart – this time a staggering £12,000 for a dog under one-year-old, along with a heady £2,350 for an unbroken five-month-old pup.
The first fell to Tynygraig Jet, a fully home-bred black and white bitch just 10-months-old – so actually little more than a pup herself – from Welshman Dewi Jenkins, of Tal-y-bont in Ceredigion, the second to Jim, a black and white pup from Donal Mullaney of Letterkenny in County Donegal.
Both were selling their charges online at what was the North Yorkshire venue’s first-ever virtual timed two-day working sheep dog sale with real-time viewing, along with a live pre-sale conference facility. (July 15 & 16)
The high-flying Jet shattered the previous centre record price of £7,035 for a Skipton-sold dog under 12 months. Also thought to be a world record at the time, it was set at the Spring 2018 sale by another well-bred bitch from Lancastrian Tony Birkett, of Carnforth.
Mr Jenkins, who for the past several years has produced some of the country’s most sought-after and top-selling working sheep dogs, many sold through Skipton, set the new world record price for a dog so young with his sole entry, who was reared by long-time partner Sara Lewis.
Tynygraig Jet is a daughter of Kemi Taff, sold by Mr Jenkins for top price of £7,980 at Bala last October, out of Fly, a full sister to his main stud dog Jock, who has been responsible for several other high price dogs, and with whom Mr Jenkins will be represented at next year’s rearranged World Sheep Dog Trials at Castle Howard Estate, near York. He is Welsh team captain.
Jet’s buyer was Philip Wood, who farms some 2,700 acres in partnership with his younger brother Michael and their respective families in the rolling Shropshire Hills AONB at Kinnerton Hall Farm, bang on the Welsh borders south of Shrewsbury.
His new acquisition will be used solely as a work dog on a mixed flock of up to 4,000 breeding ewes, among them ever-popular North of England Mules, along with a commercial suckler herd comprising some 480 beef breeding cattle. In fact, Mr Wood and his wife Sue, had made a pre-sale journey purposely to see Mr Jenkins putting Jet through her paces at home.
Mightily impressed, both said they were determined to have her – and were over the moon when that dream became reality: “She’s a lovely bitch. In fact, we are convinced she found us because when we went to see her she actually jumped in our vehicle. Dewi said she had never done anything like that before!” said Mrs Wood.
The previous centre record price at Skipton for an unbroken pup, also thought to be a world record at the time, was the £2,100 achieved in 2017 by an eight-month-old from one of the most recognised names in the working sheep dog world, Cotswolds farm manager and top triallist Dick Roper.
Three years later, it was bettered by Mr Mullaney’s record-breaking £2,350 Jim, who is by fellow Irishman Martin Feeney’s renowned trials dog Jack, a multiple Open trials winner, semi-finalist in both the 2014 and 2017 World Sheep Dog Trials, finalist in two Supreme trials and placed in the Irish National team on no less than seven occasions.
Out of Mr Mullaney’s own Queen, herself a daughter of another Irish breeder Pat Byrne Lad, Jim was purchased by Stirling’s Jack Shaw on behalf of his good friend and fellow shepherd Kenneth Woods, of Witches Craig.
Both work as shepherds at Dumyat Farm in the Ochill Hills, though Mr Woods, having turned 60, says he is now enjoying semi-retirement and while using his new acquisition on the farm’s Scottish Blackface ewes he is also looking forward to resuming trialling with the highly promising Jim. Mr Woods has not trialled for some 20 years due to past work commitments, though he has twice represented the Scottish National team.
Mr Shaw himself bought another young unbroken Irish-bred dog, Roy, aged just seven months, from County Donegal’s M McHugh, though he picked up the promising all-rounder, whose sire finished third in the All Ireland Nursery final, for just £650.
Taking top call on day one and in the entire sale at £12,550 was Eve, one of two well-bred fully broken bitches from another renowned Welsh handler and triallist, Kevin Evans, who is based at Modrydd, Brecon, in Powys.
His 18-month-old Eve is by Mr Evans’ own Derwen Doug, a European Nursery Champion and dual Welsh and International Brace Champion, out of fellow Welsh breeder Andrew Green’s Preseli Queen, a full sister to Preseli Ci, twice International Supreme Champion in the hands of Mr Evans in 2016 and 2018.
The Skipton sale attracted an entry of 47 working sheep dogs – 36 fully broken, six part-broken and five unbroken dogs.
Day two was given over entirely to the solid entry of 25 working dogs from Ireland – vendors from across the Irish Sea are always well represented at Skipton – when the day’s top call of £5,050 fell to a stylish two-year-old black and white bitch, Meg, from Tom Daly, of Castlederg.
By Simon Cottrell’s Jim, a grandson of Belgian trialling legend Serge van der Sveep’s Gary, out of Mr Daly’s own Ash, the top price Irish dog didn’t have too far to travel when joining fellow County Tyrone handler Kevin McAleer in Carrickmore, near Omagh, where he runs a pedigree Blackface sheep flock comprising 200 ewes. Mr McAleer also owns a quarry and cement-making business and says he plans to use Meg as a potential trials dog, as well as for breeding.
Mr Daly also caught the eye with a second sale of £3,300 for his November 2018 tri-coloured dog Shay (kennel name Taff), by Welsh handler Floyd Farthing’s Jack, out of S Byrne’s Fly, herself a daughter of James McCluskey’s Sweep. The buyers were W Richardson & Son in Appleby, Cumbria.
At £4,950 was the first Irish entry to go under the virtual hammer on day two, Spot, a young black and white dog born in May last year from L McKee, of Derryogue Sheepdogs in Kilkeel. By Mac, out of Mo, both from H McKee, Spot remained in Ireland when joining Sligo’s Martin Feeney.
Donal Mullaney again caught the eye earlier in the sale when also making £3,950 with a second dog, his January, 2019-born black and white Jack, by fellow Irish handler Pat Byrne’s highly regarded Moss – bought out of Skipton several years ago for £9,660 – and like his new world record price pup out of his own Queen. Jack joined the Procter sheep and cattle farming family in Great Musgrave, Kirkby Stephen, regular Cumbrian buyers of Skipton-sold dogs.
Next best at £3,650 was Northern Ireland teenager and accomplished young triallist Shannon Conn, from Limavady, with her three-year-old dog Grip (Gyp), already placed third in this year’s North of Ireland Nursery Final and also with Open points to his name. He remained in Northern Ireland when falling to a successful online bid from Gareth Sproule, of Castlederg.
Live working dog sales are still not able to be held under Covid-19 restrictions because of the large crowds they attract – hence the reason for online sales. The next at Skipton is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, September 1-2. Virtual catalogue entries close on Friday, August 7.