All markets, whether they be for flat or National Hunt horses, go through highs and lows, and many saw the 2024 store sales as a correction of the market following record-breaking renewals.

I took a look back through the past ten years to get a better reading of the 2024 figures. Beginning with Part 1 of the Goffs Arkle Sale, the average of €48,615 had only been bettered twice previously, while the median of €42,000 was the fourth highest since 2014.

The clearance rate of 80% was the lowest in ten years, though given the increase of horses offered (from 241 in 2014 to 424 in 2024), that is not entirely surprising.

Crest of a wave

The number of horses offered at the Derby Sale has remained relatively level in the past 10 years, though there has been an increase at the venue via its other store sales. If you ignore 2020 when Covid prevented British buyers from attending, the Derby Sale has been riding the crest of a wave since 2017.

The 2024 renewal produced an average (€47,841) and median (€38,000) more on par with 2016, when the average rose by 11% to €47,535 and the median held steady at €36,000. Both figures peaked in 2022 at €57,903 and €50,000.

Money matters

A correction to the market is to be expected, given that the end users are experiencing rising costs of having horses in training, without any increases to prize money. However, those producing young stock are also suffering rising costs in areas such as feed, staff and transport, with breeders paying the additional stallion fees.

The easiest profit and loss stories to estimate are that of the pinhooks, though much of the most expensive stores had been sourced privately.

Taking the top 10 lots from the Goffs December NH Sale and the Tattersalls Ireland November NH Sale, 13 have been reoffered so far, with another two withdrawn from their intended sales dates.

Of those, two went unsold, six sold for a loss (allowing €15,000 to bring from foal sale to store sale) and five broke even or made a profit.

Filly figures something to celebrate

It wasn’t all doom and gloom at the store sales, as the demand for fillies remained strong at both of the major Irish sales.

The average price for fillies at the Goffs Arkle Sale rose marginally to €45,247, while the median held steady at €40,000. Five changied hands for six-figure sums, in comparison to two last year.

Those figures are particularly impressive compared to 2014, when fillies commanded an average price of €15,466, median of €14,000 and peaked at €45,000.

There were dips at the Derby Sale, where the average fell by 15% to €39,611, though the median only dropped marginally to €35,500. The 2023 renewal produced five six-figure fillies, but their 2024 counterparts could only reach a high of €95,000.

Once again, though, the figures are impressive when compared to 2014, when the average came in at €30,702 and the median at €20,000.

An improved race programme and initiatives like the ITBA Bonus Scheme have improved the demand for National Hunt fillies and it would seem that their continued presence will keep the market in good stead.