LIVE working sheep dog sales, with field trials for fully broken dogs, made a welcome return to Skipton Auction Mart last month.

Top dog again on price with a 10,000gns (£10,500) sale was leading Welsh handler and triallist Kevin Evans, of Llwynfedwen Farm, near Brecon.

The resumption of live action, supplemented by a real-time online viewing and bidding facility for those unable to attend in person, saw the 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.

Out of Floss, who 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.

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 England 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.

In the trials field, Gunnerwell Ted, from Phil Schellhorne, of Ferryhill, County Durham, achieved 1,700gns (£1,785), as did 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

A tri-coloured November, 2018, Groesfaen Cai, from Stephen Burton, of Ukfield in East Sussex 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 County 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.