ON the back of a record trading year in 2021, there was much talk as to whether the post-pandemic boom would maintain its buoyancy. Fortunately, however, and much to the delight and relief of all, these fears proved unfounded as the results from last year’s sport horse sales revealed that 2022 was indeed yet another excellent year.
From the get go, every venue in the country reported a consistent and vibrantly strong trade with five-figure prices appearing in multiples. Most significantly these featured in every age group, from performance foals, competition prospects and to ponies and to hunters. The increased confidence in the online bidding platform added to the momentum, as once again remote buyers proved to be a very influential force.
Much has been discussed about marketing and production, and there is absolutely no doubt that those vendors who used this tool to the maximum reaped the rewards. The quality of the most successful pre-sale’s videos was slick and professional, and the bar is high.
Another highlight of the year was rise of the home-bred three-year-old and older horses in the tables. Many breeders completed the sales’ process themselves, while others gained assistance from the professional yards. Whichever route, this can only be good for the breeders, who with thoughtful breeding plans, are beginning to be rewarded.
Looking at the tables, it is apparent that continental bloodlines now account for the bulk of the sale entries and as a result are the dominating factor. In terms of their performance, precocity and commercial attributes, they are the eye-catchers and their returns mirror their appeal. The ISH-registered sires also enjoyed a good year, making up ground in the tables in all age groups. This was helped in no small way by Padraig Howley’s home-based and home-bred Sligo Candy Boy who headed both the four and older horse sectors. With seven progeny listed, Sligo Candy Boy was the only sire to feature in every table under his category. Now rising 14 years old, the son of Balou du Rouet also delivered an improved monetary average (and this year without a significant outlier) of €22,717 in comparison of €19,825 in 2021 (with an outlier) and €10,942 without.
Another ISH sire to make an impact was HHS Cornet, a seven-year-old son of Cornet Obolensky out of the jumping mare HHS Geneva by OBOS Quality. Bred by Miguel Bravo, and standing at the Hughes Sport Stud, this exciting youngster has really made an impression, and with his oldest crop now rising four, was creditably represented by five individuals in two tables, resulting in an outstanding average of €28,800.
On more traditional lines, but not validated as TIH because his dam’s extended maternal line is unrecorded, Nick Cousins’s Tullabeg Fusion, is another commercial sire. Standing in Co Wexford, the 19-year-old dun by Remington Clover appeals strongly to the eventing fraternity and, having made four appearances in the older and the four-year-old tables, averaged €20,500.
As has become the norm, the tables are dominated by the end of year specialist sales and while these are important to the industry, they are competently supported by the sales throughout the country. 2022 saw records break at every turn, especially in the pony sector. As will be illustrated later in this feature, the trade for the smaller of the species was phenomenal, especially at Clifden and Cavan.
As it was in 2021, the market for the older riding horse was strong throughout. With pre sales’ marketing a priority, demand for the well-presented, fully warranted, rideable individual was insatiable, and this was reflected by a wealth of accompanying five-figure returns. It was particularly noticeable in the sales around the country, where at Cavan and Goresbridge especially, the older stock regularly made the headlines.
The year’s top price of €36,000 (€30,000 in 2021) went to Trade Horses Ltd well-named Red Hot Chilli Filly, a five-year-old daughter of Ramiro B out of Willows Music (Rhoman Rule TB). One of many home-bred success stories, this quality mare was a well related full sister to the advanced event horse Red Hot Cooley (CCI4*) and, carrying slick event form, had won twice from just five runs under EI rules. Topping her age group at the Goresbridge Go For Gold sale in November, Red Hot Chilli Filly was sold to a UK cash buyer.
Specialist sales aside, there were a healthy number of notables recorded in the country. Heading these at €30,000 (Goresbridge in May) was Vincent Meaney’s attractive six-year-old by KAH Clintender (Clinton/Contender) out of the thoroughbred-sired Lanarkshire Lady by Cut The Mustard. Bred by Tomas Hester, the bay was originally sourced by the vendor as a three-year-old and subsequently produced by Balladeer Sport Horses in Co Cork.
The now deceased OBOS Quality continues to wield an influence in the tables, and his two best representatives at €26,000 apiece sold at Goresbridge in May and July. First up was Conlan Dillon’s five-year-old gelding Kief Bionic Man, (dam by Pik Labionics) while in July, PJ Kearns’s much admired home-bred mare Southfork Quality changed hands for the same return. The latter was a diminutive six-year-old with an impressive jump, and was the first of four progeny out of the German-bred mare Erina by Abke,
Topping the traditional table at €19,000 was Maralees Carey’s six-year-old gelding Higgins who, by the Connemara stallion Annbally Storm out of Hollyfort Dreamer (Heigh Ho Dubh), was sold at Cavan in March.
In comparison, the thoroughbred-sired stock delivered fewer five-figure prices but appearing twice in the age group tables Pontilliste-sired Peter Smyth’s traditionally bred five-year-old (dam by It’s the Quiet Man) led the field at €14,000 (€10,400 in 2021).
Doonaveeragh Candy was the highest priced four-year-old, sold for €42,000 at the 2022 Go For Gold Sale \ Bit-Media.com
Interestingly, the biggest changes in the tables were seen in the four-year-old sector. With the exception of last year’s €79,000 outlier, the returns were similarly impressive, but the honours were far more evenly spread between the two breed divisions. Overall trade for the age group was both strong and extensive, and heading the tables at €42,000 (€79,000) was Higgins Sport Horses and Alice Martin-Jones’s Doonaveeragh Candy, a four-year-old gelding by Sligo Candy Boy (dam by Le One). Bearing the producing duo’s trademark professional production, the American-bound gelding was a real head turner and, bred by Ivan Gardiner, was sold at the Go For Gold Sale.
The same sale also delivered a €41,000 return to the year’s top-priced filly. This figure fell to Henry Foley’s well produced Wheelagower Shes The One, a filly by the up and coming Jorado out of China Doll M2S by Wang Chung M2S. Bred by Cynthia Murphy Kearney, she was a very impressive individual, and now bound to event in England.
Foley, like fellow producers Jason Higgins and Meabh and Brian Flynn, enjoyed a great autumn campaign to appear in several of the tables.
Twelve months ago, the figures revealed that the trade in the country was solid for the age group, but this year it rose to a different level. Demand for the correct individual was prodigious, and flying the thoroughbred flag, the traditionally bred MBF Point and Go by Pointilliste headed a vibrant trade at Goresbridge in May when making €30,000. Consigned by Jason Higgins, Meabh and Brian Flynn (MBF Sporthorses Ltd), the Tom Clancy-bred gelding had been sourced from the same venue last autumn and, out of TC Silver Bouncer (Grange Bouncer), was snapped up by former British Olympic event rider Mary King.
The three-year-old prices of 2021 followed much the same pattern as the four-year-olds, with the ISH sires punching well above their weight and the production team of Jason Higgins, Meabh and Brian Flynn scooping the bulk of the spoils. Illustrating this, the year’s best price of €65,000 fell to the partnership’s MBF Bonfire Heart, a son of Castlecomer Q out of Dutch warmblood mare Ramirma (Damiro). Bred by Higgins and changing hands at the Go For Gold sale, he was secured by Barrett Equestrian, who were also among the prominent buyers in 2021.
Staying with the Co Kilkenny auction house who cleared 83% of the age group, another two home-bred offerings filled the next best prices at €50,000. Beautifully presented by the ultra-professional outfit of Marti Rudd and Tomas Doyle, the first – which was also the top priced filly – was by Celtic Hero Z out of Doyle’s elite traditionally bred jumping mare Ballycapple Mist (Boherdeal Clover). The latter meanwhile was by Quabri de L’Isle out of the prolific broodmare OBOS Nancy Broone (OBOS Quality). Both carry exceptional maternal lines.
The annual Monart sale, now confined to three-year-olds, enjoyed another good dispersal which was topped at €38,000 by Brandonview Stud’s first-crop daughter of Vivant Van’t Heffinck out of Glendine Castle Queen (KEC Maximum Joe). Monart, which closed with a 76% clearance, also produced the top thoroughbred-sired lot when Paul Douglas’s gelding by Chinoock Eclipse (dam by OBOS quality) realised a creditable €26,000.
The first of the select sales took place at Cavan in August, where the Elite Sale catalogue of around 70 lots garnered a top price of €27,000. Not for the first time at the venue, the top honours fell to a pinhooker from Co Clare, and on this occasion, it was the turn of producer Niall O’Doherty whose colt Zuperman Z by Zirocco Blue (dam by Carthino Z) stole the show at €27,000.
October saw the second running of a new select sale in Goresbridge, specifically for three-year-olds. Offering a reduced catalogue of 25 pre-selected lots, this fixture exceeded last year’s figures to deliver a healthy shared top return of €40,000. Both were home-bred, with Mairead Lacey scoring first with Rosconnell Tango, a much-admired chesnut by Tyson out of CSF Sophie by Good Luck VSL. A few lots later, it was the turn of MBF Golden Mix, an America-bound gelding by Aganix du Seigneur out of the Milan-sired thoroughbred mare MBF Nora.
Out in the country it was the same story, with auction houses reporting some excellent three-year-old returns. It was again rewarding to see so many home-bred lots included among the sale-toppers, one of which was the overall sale-topper at €18,000 (€20,000). Selling at Goresbridge in October, this figure fell to Suzanne Maguire’s Tomgar Freestyle, a well related son of Freestyle Van Der Wolfsakker out of Ballydunne Coevers (Coevers Diamond Boy). Carrying a stout and topical pedigree, the dam is a half-sister to this year’s HOYS puissance victor, Bishops Quarter (Comdt. Geoff Curran) as well as BP St Patrick (1.15m).
Declan Phelan’s unnamed filly foal by Cornet Obolensky (dam by Sheyenne de Baugy) topped the Cavan Elite Foal sale at €36,000.Signing the docket on behalf of successful buyer Tony O’Doherty was sport horse producer DJ O’Sullivan \ Cavan EC
As the demand for top show jumping pedigrees grows each year, so do the foal prices at auction. Although the top return of €36,000 was similar to that of the previous year (€35,000 on 2021), the figures clustered well – and especially at Cavan which staged its best Elite Foal sale to date. Held in September during the international jumping show, the glittering renewal saw four foals realise in excess of €20,000, among which was a top return of €36,000. Such was the quality on offer, 93% of foals changed hands, resulting in an average of €15,474 (€11,385 in 2021).
Reaping the top reward at €36,000 was Declan Phelan’s unnamed filly by the very commercial Cornet Obolensky out of the international jumping mare Biscaya d’Eversem (by Sheyenne De Baugy). For much of the evening it looked as though Matthew McBreen’s Crosskeys Stables was going to land a sale-topping hat-trick, but in the end the Cavan man settled for second spot and a purse of €31,000 for a smart colt foal (Lot 24) by Aganix Du Seigneur. Out of Jumeirah (Ard VDL Douglas) and sibling to both the 2018 and 2020 sale-toppers, this colt hails from a contemporary and improving family.
The final lot to make the €30,000 mark was Heather Dean Wright’s filly Ard Gazelle by Diamant de Semilly out of Arabella (Argentinus). This filly carried an exceptional blacktype pedigree being closely related to Nick Skelton’s world cup horse Showtime (1.60m).
The Goresbridge Supreme/Breeders Classic fixture at Barnadown also garnered some rewarding results as did the Mayo and Roscommon foal renewal later in the season. The former, which traditionally has a very small catalogue of just 15 lots, enjoyed a good sale accompanied by a clearance of 90%.
The top spot here at €26,000 (€19,000 in 2021) went to Patrick Connolly’s CSF Clover Rock, a smart colt by Hardrock Z out of CSF Telly Clover by Ars Vivendi. Topically bred, the colt was out of a sibling to CSF Telly Cruz, who, in turn, is the dam of the recent RDS Aga Khan hero James Kann Cruz. Bidding on site, the hammer fell in favour of Barry O’Connor who signed the docket on behalf of the Murray family from Mannon Farms, in Co Down.
Now in its fifth year, the well-run and equally well-supported Mayo and Roscommon Breeders’ showcase enjoyed another lively evening and although it didn’t feature among the big prices, it closed with a top price of €12,500 (€13,500 in 2021). This fell to Des McDonnell’s colt by Jardonnay VDL (dam by Manhattan). The inaugural running of a young horse sector, was inconsistent and the organisers are likely to review this for next year.
As the pinhookers moved into gear, the general foal sales were well supported. While, as always there was a big monetary divide between the top-drawer show jumping foals and the remainder, foal prices generally stood up well, although buyers are selective. Topping the Goresbridge October returns at €22,000 was a colt by Conthargos, and while the ISH sire’s returns are modest in comparison, they exceeded last year’s figures by a distance. Boosting the figures, the top price of €8,400 went to a Sligo Candy Boy colt, while giving fillip for the thoroughbred, a son of Centennial realised a very creditable €7,800.
Lot 67 topped Cavan Sales €27,000 for Niall O’Doherty’s Zuperman Z, a colt by Zirocco Blue, secured by Curragh-based Fergal White \ Cavan EC
Not to be outdone, the pony market enjoyed another record year. The returns from Cavan, Goresbridge and Mullingar delivered numerous five-figure prices, while the trade at Clifden was simply phenomenal. The demand for ponies - and at Cavan in particular - was outstanding, and indeed several of the smaller species headed the overall returns. Among these was the Reynolds’ family’s Hillswood Boy who topped the Cavan February sale at €21,000, and also Paula and Robert Widger’s jumping pony Poynstown Dubh who repeated the feat when changing hands for €18,000 at Cavan in June.
Records were smashed at Mullingar when Gary Kilfgallon’s Connemara mare realised €20,600, while in Clifden trade was maintained a similar high standard throughout. Prices were bettered at each running, and having opened well in February with a €16,000 sale-topper, this was capped in May when Karen Nicholson’s home-bred Blackstown Prince Charming (by Knightebridge Prince) changed hands for €17,200.
Older horses by continental sires
Four-year-olds by continental sires
Three-year-olds by continental sires
Foals by continental sires
Older horses by ISH, TB, Connemara and Irish Draught sires
Four-year-olds by ISH sires
Three-year-olds by ISH sires
Foals by ISH sires