Dales’ farm to host new sheepdog trials

THE Dales will host a new sheepdog competition in May, which is being seen as a warm-up for the World Trials, at Penrith, in September, and will feature a lot of the best British handlers and dogs.

A high level of interest meant an entry limit of 80 dogs was reached within three days of the announcement of the trial, sponsored by Craven Cattle Marts (CCM), which has made Skipton a nationally important venue for working-dog sales over the past three years.

The CCM Spring Open Trial will be an annual event, opening at Newton Hall Farm, Bank Newton, Gargrave, by arrangement with farmer Anthony Hewetson, on Thursday, May 19 – the day before the Spring sale of dogs at Skipton Auction Mart, which will be attended by many of the competitors.

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Catering is being organised and spectators will be welcome.

Entry for spectators is free but competitors will pay a fee and there will be various fund-raising activities on the day. Proceeds will go towards the cost of staging the International Sheep Dog Society’s 4th World Sheep Dog Trials in England, at Lowther Park Estate, near Penrith in Cumbria, on September 15-18. The world trials will run alongside a Food & Country Festival.

Matthew Watson, of Tadcaster, professional shepherd and English national trials champion, is signed up to compete, with his best dog, Milo. So is Carol Mellin, of Oakworth, near Keighley, who learnt about training dogs from her late husband.

She has gone from strength to strength as a trials competitor in her own right and will be competing at Gargrave with her 10-year-old favourite, Maisie.

Also in the line-up for Gargrave are several Welshmen, including Aled Owen, of Corwen, Denbighshire, the defending World Trials champion; Nigel Watkins, of Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, who was reserve world champion in 2005 and remains a top-level competitor; and Kevin Evans, of Modrydd Brecon, Powys, British Isles individual supreme champion in 2008.

Scotland will be represented by, among others, Jock Welsh, of Ayrshire, who ran two dogs in last year’s British Isles Supreme Championship, and Ireland by Alistair Lyttle, of Pettigo, Co. Donegal, winner of the BBC’s One Man and His Dog competition in 2010.

Tim Longton, president of the International Sheep Dog Society and head of the World Trials organising committee, said this week: “This inaugural charity trial at Gargrave features some of the best-known faces and dogs in the game.

“Interest in the world of sheep-dog trialing is as strong as ever and there is an open invitation to the general public to attend this much-anticipated rural spectacle.”

CCM general manager Jeremy Eaton said: “This is intended to be an annual charity event, with this year’s chosen charity, the World Trials. It is an interesting and exciting prelude to the 2011 World Trials for observers of form.”

The event is being organised by John Palmer, of Twiston, near Clitheroe (01200 445293. The venue postcode is BD23 3NT).

For more on the World Trials, see www.worldsheepdogtrials.org/

A new world record for a sheepdog sold at auction was set at Skipton in February, when veteran trainer John Bell of Howden, East Yorkshire, sold a bitch called Dewi Fan, for 6,000 guineas (£6,300), five months after buying her as a pup. He held the previous record too – £5,000, last July, at the same venue.