Fears that the market for National Hunt store horses would take a dip this year appeared to be realised when Tuesday's one-day Goffs Spring Store Sale produced a clearance rate of 69.5%, down significantly from 81% last year.

Although last year's sale was a two-day affair Tuesday's catalogue had just 11 fewer horses catalogued than last year. A total of 236 were offered and 171 were sold.

The average price fell by 12% and the median price dropped 13%. This was not unexpected following a significant drop in point-to-point sales activity in recent months.

There is still strength at the top of the market. Just like last year, five horses broke the £100,000 mark and another 11 lots made £50,000 or more.

The top price of £135,000 was paid by Tom Malone and Paul Nicholls for a well-related Jukebox Jury gelding from Willie and Mandy Bryan's Worthen Hall Stables in Shrewsbury.

The sale-topper is out of a half-sister to the great two-mile chaser Master Minded and arrived at the Spring Store Sale with a huge update, being a full-brother to He Can’t Dance, an impressive winner on debut for Rob James between the flags at Monksgrange who sold for £300,000 at the Goffs Aintree Sale last month.

Malone said: "The pedigree stacks up. Paul had Master Minded under the second dam, and the brother made serious money at the Aintree sale after winning so well. Rob James said he was an absolute machine and he underbid the store there. So there’s the confidence he has in that horse.

“The two brothers are very similar types, although they’re different colours. This one had plenty of substance and scope. I loved him. He’ll be part of the Ditcheat academy now.”

Worthen Hall also sold a Walk In The Park half-sister to smart mares Lady Adare and Sabrina to Ryan Mahon and Dan Skelton for £105,000. In 2022 they sold the same sire’s son Regent’s Stroll for £175,000 and he is now unbeaten in two starts after taking the valuable Goffs UK Spring Sale Bumper at Newbury in March.

“We condition them well from foals and they’re lunged all the way through the winter, they never stand still, so they learn their job really well and they’re ready for their trainers to get on with,” said Willie Bryan.

“You get an eye for it after a while. My dad [Bill] was much, much better at it than me. He did it for about 55 years. He could walk into a field, see 20 mares and foals, pick out three, and they were the best three. I don’t know how he did it.

“A few things must’ve rubbed off from my dad and I’ve tried to build on it and evolve a bit. You’ve got to be commercial in three years, not the day you buy them.”

“They were my strongest stock, the Walk In The Park filly particularly. I think she’ll win the sales race next year as she’s head and shoulders the best filly I’ve ever had."

Johnny Collins payday

Johnny Collins of Brown Island Stables landed a touch when selling the useful Authorised Speed for €155,000 at the Goffs Arkle Sale in 2020 and he got another nice payday for that gelding’s half-brother today.

The French-bred Beaumec De Houelle gelding, out of flat listed scorer Tangaspeed, was bought by Tom Malone on behalf of Paul Nicholls for £110,000.

“I bought him as a foal out in France,” reported Collins. “He’s a very straightforward horse who showed himself well all week. All the right people were on him and hopefully he’ll be lucky for Mr Malone.

“I didn’t know much about the stallion when I bought him because he’d had no runners at that point. I just liked the look of the horse, and I’d sold his brother, Authorised Speed, as well.”

Snowden purchase

Jamie Snowden paid £100,000 for Lakefield Farm’s gelding by Vol De Nuit, a half-brother to Cheltenham Festival runner-up Style De Garde, out of a winning daughter of Red Guest.

Snowden said: "This horse has a great page and he’s a lovely model of a horse, which is what we like buying. He floated over the ground in his show and walked around the parade ring like he owned the place. He was just a real standout.”

Goldford Stud enjoyed another good day at the office, selling a filly by No Risk At All to Ryan Mahon and Dan Skelton for £100,000 and another filly by Kapgarde to Bobby O’Ryan and Nicky Henderson for £70,000.

“The No Risk At All filly had never left the farm until Saturday, she’d been there her entire life,” said the operation’s Sally Aston. “It’s the same with the Kapgarde filly: they actually lived together at home.

“They’ve been spot on from day one. They were lovely foals and have turned into beautiful three-year-olds. They were really popular here so our expectations have been rising throughout the viewing.”

Sarah Faulks of Yeo Barton Stud and her team brought only one horse to the Goffs Doncaster Spring Store Sale but the long journey from north Devon was made worthwhile when the lot in question, a French-bred Born To Sea gelding, sold to Highflyer Bloodstock for £70,000.

The handsome chesnut, already named Talk The Talk, is out of the Walk In The Park mare Walk The Walk, a half-sister to the dam of top-class hurdlers Elimay and Goshen.

A delighted Faulks said: “We bought him from a good friend and breeder in France, and we’ve always liked him. He's an incredibly athletic horse, and I’m sure his new owners will do very well with him. I wish them every luck.

“I love Born To Sea, and the French trainers love his stock too. There was a very good winner by him at Auteuil on Saturday [Shika Du Berlais] – she won by six lengths on the bridle.

“They have a great attitude. In fact, this horse stood for two hours on the side of the motorway when we had a flat tyre on the way up. All the Born To Seas are like that: genuine horses with great temperaments.”

Goffs UK managing director Tim Kent commented: "The Spring Store Sale is the first sale of its kind each year and, as such, is always met with much anticipation. However, this was further heightened after a number of recent sales that proved difficult away from the very top, whilst we are all very aware of the challenges that the Point-to-Point vendors have faced during the last 12 months.

"Despite all of this, we were obviously hopeful of a healthy sale and whilst we feel that plenty of people achieved this today, we cannot escape the fact that it has been a tough day for some.

"As ever, the top of the market has been very strong and those who had the desired lots sold very well – as demonstrated by the five horses that sold for £100,000 or more.

"However, other levels of the market have certainly softened as witnessed by the drop in numbers sold, though it has been encouraging to see a lot of horses sold outside the ring showing that demand is there if vendors are prepared to trade.

"Whilst we cannot draw any firm conclusions until after the comparative sales in Ireland, we are proud of the fact that we have worked extremely hard to promote this sale and this ensured that we had a strong catalogue of horses that were viewed by a diverse buying bench consisting of buyers at all levels from both sides of the Irish Sea."

"It may not have been plain sailing but there are a lot of positives to take away from today and we look forward to carrying that into the two-day Spring HIT/PTP Sale which kicks off tomorrow at 10am."