GORESBRIDGE rounded off a strong year’s trading when last week’s concluding sale of four and three-year olds produced a very healthy set of returns.

Following in the same upward trend as the older horses, business was lively from the outset, and resulted in 18 five-figure returns over the final two days and an overall clearance of 72%.

Such was the demand for four-year-olds, 88% of the group changed hands at an unprecedented average of €7,299, while the three-year-olds closed at a more modest 64% (average €5,449).

With the flagship Go For Gold sale yet to run, Goresbridge’s Martin and Mary Frances Donohoe reflected on the year as a whole. “It’s been heartening for the whole industry,” they agreed.

“The figures have remained consistent right through from our record-breaking May sale to this, our end of season October renewal. Last week’s sale was a fantastic conclusion to a phenomenal year’s trade and one that delivered a remarkable average in the four-year-old returns. It’s great to see such consistency and demand, and is very gratifying for all involved – especially for the breeders.”


Katy O’Dea’s sale-topping RRS Joe (Lot 378) was the subject of one of the most protracted head-to-head exchanges over the entire three days. The big gelding by Lancelot out of Rhineroe Lady Elle (Colin Diamond) had been beautifully produced by his owner and, already broken and riding, had the makings of a show horse.

Certainly, Enniskillen showman Terry Johnson thought so, and as bids bounced slowly between Johnson and amateur rider Sarah McClelland, so the tension grew. In the end the hammer fell in favour of the latter at €17,000, but as McClelland later admitted, the grey was not what she had initially intended to buy. “I was looking for a full Irish Draught to show, but I saw this one and he was so beautiful, and so chilled, I fell in love with him,” said the Lisburn-based buyer. “Horses are both a hobby and an addiction for me, so I’m really excited and I plan to keep him busy in various disciplines.”

As the owner/producer Co Clare-based O’Dea was equally delighted. “We knew he would sell well, but we didn’t anticipate this,” she commented. “I bought him from his breeder (Aiden Maloney) as a two-year-old, with the intention of jumping him, but he grew too big. He’s an absolute gentleman, and has been a pleasure to produce.”

Top Returns - Four-Year-Olds

Shane Nugent’s 4yo filly by Avos Jordan Z (dam by Cruising) €16,500.

Brian Flynn’s MBF Broken Blue, 4yo gelding by Bonmahon Master Blue (dam by Landsdown) €15,500.

Jason Higgins’s Gazello, 4yo gelding by George Z (dam by Darco) €14,000.

Pat O’Brien’s 4yo gelding by OBOS Quality (dam by Tabasco Van Erpekom) €13,200.

Jamie McDonnell’s MCS Rocketman, 4yo gelding by Echo King (dam by Welcome Flagmount) €12,250.

Norman Allen’s 4yo gelding by Mermus R (dam by Cyrano) €12,000.

Four-year-old trade

A seemingly insatiable demand for four-year-olds led to a significant average of €7,299 together with a clearance of 88%. Both on site customers and online bidders entered into some lively frays, among which was for Shane Nugent’s home-bred filly (Lot 219) by Avos Jordan Z out of Liberty Cruise (Cruising).

At €16,500, Derbyshire agent Lee Penny outlasted Paul Donovan for this well related lot, who is a half-sister to Luidam de la Cruise (1.45m) and Onassis (1.35m). A smart jumper, he was well showcased by Gemma Phelan, and is likely to be campaigned by Penny’s jockey Charlotte Hayes. “If all goes well, we would like to take him to Belgium next spring, and run him in some age classes,” said Penny.

Shane Nugent's four-year-old filly by Avos Jordan Z (Lot 219)

By far the busiest buyer on the day was James White of the Berkshire trading firm of Irish Horse Imports. Citing a strong demand in England, White signed for a total of 23 lots, headed at €15,500 by Brian Flynn’s gelding MBF Broken Blue (Lot 212). This attractive gelding was sourced unbroken from breeder Michael Fanning and, by Bonmahon Master Blue is out of Landsdown Lady by Landsdown.

“We are super busy at the moment and good horses are hard found,” said White, whose business is well promoted on social media. “We are always willing to give money for a good one and this is a particularly nice sort.”

Brian Flynn's MBF Broken Blue (Lot 212), by Bonmahon Master Blue, fetched €15,500 when bought by James White of Berkshire \ Sally Parkyn

Earlier in the day, the same firm also accounted for Norman Allen’s home-bred Merry Dance (Lot 183), a gelding by Mermus R out of Knockrath Sneeze (Cyrano). Changing hands at €12,000, this well-related individual is a half-brother to Knockrath Who’s Who (1.45m) as well as to the 2018 RDS working hunter winner and reserve champion (four-year-olds) Burrough Hill Boy. Jonathan Cleary and Samantha Nurse of the Thurles-based Piermont Stables produced this head-turner who looked to be a useful performer.

Well bought

Good prices came thick and fast as the day progressed, and just a few lots earlier Jason Higgins’ imported Gazello (Lot 198) by George Z (dam by Darco) sold well at €14,000. Purchased in the spring, and recently broken in, he looked well bought by northern England-baed event rider James Adams.

Another to catch the eye was Pat O’Brien’s home-bred (Lot 231) by OBOS Quality out of Killernan Yoko (Tabasco Van Erpekon). Carolin Huuva had produced this one in Co Limerick, who after a lengthy battle, was knocked down to online British buyer Philip Griffiths at €13,200.

Several horses are heading to America, and included among them is the €12,250 sale of Jamie McDonnell’s big, strong hunter MCS Rocketman (Lot 224) by Echo King. A registered Irish Draught, out of Welcome Queenie by Welcome Flagmount, he was sourced last year in Co Galway and secured over the telephone by James Keogh. Already the winner of a few SJI points, Rocketman had been cubbing and, according to the vendor, is ready to go.

One of two breeders at Goresbridge to have bred recent Le Lion d’Angers medallists, was Co Waterford’s Francis and Richie Fitzgerald, who scored another bonus when their home-bred Bonmahon Blue Tune (Lot 173) realised €11,400 as the first lot on Thursday morning.

Lee Flavin rode this useful sort who is out of Bonmahon Shakira by Bonmahon Decies. Featuring a good dam line, he was knocked to Gloucestershire-based Lorna Williams, for her daughter Emma to event. “We’ve been lucky here before,” said Williams. “We both liked his temperament, and he was such a good mover.”

Well-presented horses were the winners on the day, and indeed Mark O’Sullivan’s attractive gelding by Cathargo was one such example. Ridden by Christine O’Donnell, who described him as ‘always jumping with a smile on his face’, he sold for €11,600 and was one of two lots snapped up online by Co Kerry-based Danny Holmes.

Lending weight to the undoubted quality of Thursday’s four-year-olds, legendary British showman and all-round horseman David Tatlow was prompted to comment. “It’s a long time since I’ve been to Goresbridge and seen such a wonderful bunch of horses,” he stated. “If I were a wealthy man, I would have bought several – instead I was weeping that I wasn’t able to!”

In the end, however, Tatlow did account for two, paying €11,000 for David Furlong’s smart four-year-old (Lot 237) by Riverland Roi. Sourced as a two-year-old, he was one of 12 lots to reach the €10,000 mark. “I would have liked to have done more with him, but I’ve been busy with the thoroughbreds,” said Furlong, whose family-run Thistletown Stud is more associated with National Hunt breeding and sales consigning.”

Discussing his future plans, Tatlow’s daughter Lorraine, commented: “He’s lovely, he’s a very good mover, and one we will perhaps aim for the large riding horse classes next year.”

Top returns three-year-olds

Katy O’Dea’s RRS Joe, 3yo gelding by Lancelot (dam by Colin Diamond) €17,000.

Alan Wheeler’s Eclips Z, 3yo gelding by Emerald Van’t Ruysterhof (dam by Arko 111) €16,000.

William Power’s Flamenco, 3yo gelding by Je T’Aime Flamenco (dam by Cruising) €15,500.

Sarah Whiteside’s Lynara Lothario, 3yo gelding by Bernhard (dam by Tabasco Van Erpekom) €14,500.

Martin O’Meara’s 3yo gelding by Quintero (dam by Diamond Graaf) €11,500.

Albert McDonald’s 3yo gelding by OBOS Quality (dam by Cavilla) €9,800.

Three-year-old trade

Although in comparison with the four-year-olds, the prices steadied, the trade for the younger age group was nevertheless solid enough. Thursday night produced the best clearance of 73% and average (€5,929), but with a different crowd of customers, the figures slipped a little on Friday. This resulted in an overall clearance of 64% together with an average of €5,449.

Thursday marked the end of a very good week for Limerick breeder and producer Alan Wheeler, whose home-bred Cooley Snapchat jumped into the bronze medal winning position at Le Lion d’Angers the previous Sunday. Just four days later, Wheeler reaped an even bigger reward when his imposing gelding Eclips Z (Lot 265) headed the first session of three-year-olds at €16,000.

In a competitive bidding war, which was skilfully extended by auctioneer Ed Donohoe, the gelding was eventually knocked down to British buyer Emma Castle, who was returning to the venue following an absence of many years.

Alan Wheeler's Eclips Z (Lot 265), by Emerald Van't Ruytershof, made €16,000 at Goresbridge when bought by Britain's Emma Castle \ Sally Parkyn

Now with a big livery yard in Solihull in the West Midlands, Castle revealed that plans for the new purchase are flexible, but she has pencilled in a possible dressage career. Looking every inch of his 173cms, the impressive chesnut is by Emerald Van’t Ruytershof out of Aragon Z (Arco III) and was sourced privately in Holland as a foal.

Another to sell well towards the end of the first session was William Power’s gelding (Lot 299) by Je T’Aime Flamenco out of Huntingdale by Cruising. Bred by Vincent Burton in Co Armagh and well produced by Johnny Widger in Co Waterford, this big-jumping horse was the subject of much admiration, and was finally secured for €15,500 by show jumping owner Tim Beecher on behalf of P. Kelly.

William Power's Je T'aime Flamenco gelding (Lot 299) fetched €15,500 at Goresbridge October Sale \ Sally Parkyn

One of several to give a demonstration of jumping prior to sale was Sarah Whiteside and Lyndon Steele’s Lynara Lothario (Lot 348), a gelding by the Heartbreaker-sired Bernhard out of Ricardess Tabasco (Tabasco Van Erpekom). Selling for €14,500, this was a good turnaround for the Lisburn-based vendors, who had recently bought the Trevor McCabe-bred gelding out of the field.

“I usually buy show cobs,” said Whiteside. “But when I saw this one I couldn’t leave him behind.” The bay then travelled to Thomas Quigley to prepare for sale, where he was well bought as a jumper by Paul Gill of the Derbyshire-based Barleyfield Equestrian.

Shropshire event horse producer Annie Dalton was another multiple buyer and signing for the last of Friday’s five-figure prices, she paid €11,500 for Martin O’Meara’s Glaslacken Quinto, a grey gelding (Lot 320) by Quintero and the only recorded foal out of Glaslacken Wild Flower (Diamond Graaf).

One of many with X-rays available to view, the gelding was bought from his Co Wexford breeder Meaghan Spencer as a two-year-old. “I’ve always been very lucky when buying off the O’Meara family,” said Dalton. “This is a lovely sort and they’ve never done me wrong.”