RETIRED shepherd John Atkinson, who runs Whiterose Sheep Dogs in Escrick, York, claimed top price of 6900gns (£7,245) at Skipton Auction Mart’s ‘live’ summer sale of working sheep dogs with his December 2018 red and white bitch Marchup Stella.
Bred locally out of well-known Silsden handler Andrew Throup’s Marchup Bess and by Hilston Spot, from Graham Blyth, of Hilston Sheep Dogs on the east coast near Withernsea, Stella, who has herself produced a litter of pups, had already been placed in nursery trials and appears primed for the open circuit.
Until retirement last year aged 74, Mr Atkinson worked as a shepherd on the Escrick Park Estate, owned by renowned conservationist and sporting gun Charlie Forbes-Adams. He is an accomplished dog trainer and triallist, responsible for two Scottish National champions and an international champion, and himself picking up multiple high profile successes on the trials field, most notably with Whiterose Queen, with whom he won over 20 trials, including a Double Gather Championship. He has also sold dogs extensively across Europe, Japan and America.
Mr Atkinson, who sold his first dog at Skipton a decade earlier, was claiming his highest-ever sale price at the North Yorkshire venue with Stella, who was only offered for sale as he has plenty of nursery dogs coming through.
The stylish bitch attracted keen interest from both live and online bidders, remaining in North Yorkshire when successfully claimed on the field by T&G Farrow, of Richmond, who made it a brace of buys on the day when earlier going to 3000gns to claim Swift, a rising two-year-old black and white dog from Irish vendor Declan Neary, of Castlebar in County Mayo.
The Farrows were returning to seek replacements for two good dogs previously bought out of Skipton 10 years earlier which had more than proved their worth at home, before unfortunately, passing away within months of one another.
Stella’s sale-topping performance further cemented the growing popularity over recent years of Border Collies with the red gene, which are now being increasingly bred and perhaps even convincing black and white traditionalists that a red dog can do the job just as well.
Again supported by a real-time online bidding facility, the summer fixture especially catered for prospective purchasers who prefer to see fully broken dogs perform live on the trials field, with an increased feel-good factor clearly in evidence among a decent crowd, reflected in top end selling prices.
Second top call of 6000gns (£6,300) fell to a first-time vendor from Cheshire, Macclesfield’s Andrew Heathcoate, with his October 2019 black and white bitch Beaut, who is out of Lyn, bred by his half brother Steven Massey. The sire is Moor Lodge Ben, bred locally in Oakworth, above Keighley, by Carol Mellin.
Both she and her dog are familiar faces on the Skipton trials field, continuing to marshall the sheep at ‘live’ sales, while Ben is also an accomplished trials-winning dog, recently running in the English National and earning a place for himself and his handler in next year’s World Sheep Dog Trials in Ireland.
Mr Heathcoate, a sheep farmer who runs a 200-strong North of England Mule and Texel flock, has been training sheep dogs for eight years and has just started trialling himself, making an immediate impact with Beaut’s brother, Roy, who has qualified for this year’s English Nursery final.
His genuine all-rounder became the handler’s highest ever dog sale price when finding a new home on Scotland’s Isle of Arran with hill farmer Iain Logan, who runs a flock of 650 Scottish Blackface sheep, along with a small mixed native cattle herd. Beaut will be used primarily as a work dog, possibly also running in local trials.
In the unbroken pen, Irish regular Pat Byrne, of Knockcroghery in County Roscommon, arrived with another nice selection of youngsters, topping this part of the sale at 800gns with Kim, a six-month-old black and white bitch which fell to a South Yorkshire buyer
The Riverdale Gundogs-sponsored fixture attracted a total entry of 42 dogs, which achieved another sold clearance rate, with 34 successfully finding new homes, eight selling at 3000gns and upwards, a trio at 2000-3000gns, a brace at 1000-2000gns, with 21 selling up to 1000gns, these predominantly in the unbroken pen.
Top prices and averages: Broken registered dogs from 850gns to 4200gns (average £2,667), registered bitches from 550gns to 6900gns (average £4,177); unregistered dogs from 200gns to 3600gns (average £1,995), unregistered bitch to 2000gns.
Part-broken registered dogs from 100gns to 420gns (average £259), registered bitches from 300gns to 800gns (average £594). Pups registered dogs from 220gns to 380gns (average £315), unregistered dogs to 50gns.
The next sheepdog sale at Skipton on Thursday, September 1, returns to the online format – entries close on August 19 – with the next ‘live’ field sale scheduled for Friday, October 14.
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