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East Anglian shepherd’s £8,400 super sheep dog

11:55 03 November 2012

Shepherd Ed Thornalley at Icklingham with his border collie Midge who cost £8,400. Photograph Simon Parker

Shepherd Ed Thornalley at Icklingham with his border collie Midge who cost £8,400. Photograph Simon Parker

Archant

East Anglian shepherd Eddie Thornalley has paid a world-record price of £8,400 for a sheep dog bred from a world champion.

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As a mobile shepherd working across Breckland and south Norfolk, he wanted a top dog for his day job but also one with potential for sheep-dog trials.

And just four days since he bought her at Skipton auction market in Yorkshire, the 18-month-black and white bitch, Midge, has already proved her mettle in the field.

“She’s adorable. She’s very cute, but primarily I’ve bought her to do a job and a bit of trialling as well,” said Mr Thornalley, who has been in the sheep industry for about 30 years and lives at Worlington, near Barton Mills.

Midge was bred by a world champion dog, Roy, the 2008 World Sheep Dog Trials champion, owned by Aled Owen, of Denbighshire.

Mr Thornalley saw the young dog when she was just a year old. “When she first started training, I was immediately impressed with her natural ability.

“On top of that, she’s a little darling. She’s very affectionate and a lovely little dog,” he added.

“I’ve only had three or four days but she’s obviously got to know me. She’s very quick and we’re already developing a strong bond. She seems to like me and I absolutely adore her,” said Mr Thornalley, 45, who helps leading East Anglian flockmaster Andrew Foulds, who is based at Elveden.

Midge seems to be finding the work a bit easier than the conditions on the borders of Yorkshire and Lancashire, where she has been working. “She’s extremely fit – mentally and physically,” said Mr Thornalley.

As a member of the East Anglian Sheep Dog Society, he is keen to compete in the coming months as the young dog matures. “Time permitting I’m keen to do more competitive trials but she’s only a puppy.”

He also recognised that he might just be weaker link in the partnership given Midge’s remarkable pedigree.

“I’m really looking forward to working with her and I’m not going to let her out of my sight,” said Mr Thornalley, who hopes eventually to get a litter from her.

Marchup Midge was sold by Shaun Richards, of Hapton, Burnley, and is a full sister of Sam, which sold for 5,000 guineas (£5,250) in July.

The previous record price at an official sale, also at Skipton last February, was 6,000 guineas (£6,300) for a 13-month-old tri-coloured bitch.

Mr Thornalley, who has bought three other dogs from Mr Richards, said after making his successful record bid: “I have not had a drink in two-and-a-half years – I feel like having one now!”

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