SIMILAR to most of the public auction houses around the country, the Connemara Pony Sales is experiencing a bumper year of prices for the native breed and last weekend’s marathon four-day sale showed there is no sign of the demand slowing down.

Held at the Clifden Mart from Friday to Monday, beginning with the popular group of broken and ridden geldings and mares, trade was electric from the get go on Friday morning when buyers from all across Ireland and Europe descended on the west of Ireland town.

A total of 622 ponies were sold over the four days, 85 of those online, leading to a 70% clearance rate. Four ponies made a five-figure sum and the top price of €12,500 came during Saturday’s long renewal. Perhaps unusually, all four of the five-figure lots were mares.

“It was, once again, one of our best sales in many years. It is back to where we were in 2007,” said Tara Mullen, spokesperson for Connemara Pony Sales. “We had huge interest from all across Europe. One Dutch buyer bought 27 ponies; he was returning to the sales having not come here for years. Buyers were very pleased with how it was set out and the reoccurring theme was that it was a great sale.

“We are seeing that vendors see the value of turning the ponies and foals out well. In turn, buyers were impressed with the quality and standard. We are also seeing that more and more vendors are arriving to the sale with vet certs for their ponies.”

The weekend’s sale-topper caught the eye on paper and didn’t disappoint when through the ring early on Saturday morning. It was Lot 235, Harnells Rascalluna, an eight-year-old dun mare by Rasmus, out of the Westside Mirah-sired Harnells Heather Honey. Bred and consigned to the sale by Ann Reade, the mare came with a performance record, having qualified for the side saddle at the Dublin Horse Show (5th) as well as wins in working hunter and in-hand.

The interest in her was obvious as the bids flew up around the ring to €10,200, at which stage she was put on the market and eventually knocked down ringside for €12,200.

Topping Friday’s sale and achieving the second best price of the weekend was another dun mare, Eddie Bourke’s five-year-old Kinmara Kinnitty Star (Lot 179). By Park Ronan, the mare has hunted and was described as quiet on beach rides and country hacks. Signing at €12,000 was Sligo show jumper Tiernan Gray.

Lot 179, Kinmara Kinnitty Star, was sold for €12,000 at the Connemara Pony Sales last weekend \ Rynes Walker

Gerty Tynan was active as ever over the four-days, signing for 15 ponies in total, including Lot 396, O My Lady, the best priced three-year-old at €10,800. The filly is by Loughmore Rambler and was sold by Michael Shanahan.

The final pony to make five-figures and the top-priced four-year-old was Padraig Smyth’s Tullymore Silver (Lot 131), by the great show jumping stallion Silver Shadow. Pat McCormack was the successful buyer at €10,000.

Five ponies broke the €9,000 mark and the best-priced gelding of the sale fell to Lot 213, Summer Bloom. Going through the ring early on Saturday morning, the three-year-old 150cms dun gelding was sold by Martin Connors to Ciaran O’Neill for €9,700.

Tiernan Grey was active throughout, also purchasing Lot 101, the 10-year-old 12.2hh gelding Doovins Buachaill Bui (by Ross Fear Bui), for €9,600 from James Dooley, while Gerty Tynan secured both Lot 24, the seven-year-old gelding Maghera Boyo (Maghera Fadda Lad), and Lot 42, the four-year-old gelding Cloughroak Boy (Clegganbay Tower), for €9,100 early on Friday morning.

Lot 24, Maghera Boyo, making €9,100 in the ring on Friday Morning \ Rynes Walker

British-based Patrick O’Gorman and Hannah Taylor are regular visitors to the West and left with 18 ponies. The highest price they paid was €9,000 for the four-year-old mare Kiltiernan Dun (Lot 343), by Dunlewey Goshawk. Over height at 15.2hh, he was sold by Aine Harkin.

The duo also gave Barbara Allen €8,700 for the Gloves Bobby-sired five-year-old gelding Master of Ballantree (Lot 185), as well as €8,000 for Lot 257, Silver’s Lady, and €7,900 for Lot 83, Baile Glas Hugh.

Other influential buyers at the sale were Vincent Meaney who signed for 23 lots, and the aforementioned Dutch outfit of SDV Horses who brought 27 horses back to The Netherlands.

Foal trade

Sunday and Monday was all about the foals and trade held up, with the lucrative top price of €6,000 falling to Lot 582, the dun filly foal Ballygarris Angel. Bred and consigned to the sale by Michael Jennings from Mayo, the filly is by Blakehill Sparrow out of Battlestown Velvet who also produced a sale-topper at the venue in 2020.

Lot 582, Ballygarris Angel, was the top priced foal at Clifden when sold for €6000 \ Rynes Walker

Bids for the strong March-born filly flew up to €3,000 quickly, before going on the market at €4,400. There was a tussle then between an online and in-person bidder, before the hammer eventually fell to William Ferrins, who was ringside, for €6,000.

Ferrins, from Louisburg in Co Mayo, said: “I thought she was the nicest foal there on the day. I hope that she will make a nice riding pony and it would be the plan to breed from her.”

Seller Jennings, who farms under the Ballygarris Livestock banner, commented: “I am chuffed to bits to achieve another highest price foal in Clifden for a second year in a row, this time with a filly. I am very proud to have bred her. She is something special. I hope she does very well for her new owner and wish them the very best of luck with her.”

It was another filly who commanded the next best price. Tom Clancy’s Lot 575 Loughconn Lily (Drumbad Fletcher Moss) was knocked down to John Hynes for €4,300. The top-priced colt foal was Lot 626, Goldenvale (Mystical Bobby Lane), sold by well-known Mayo stallion owner Liam Lynskey to Dominic Whyte for €3,900.

James Heanue receieved €3,300 for Lot 534, Cavan Susie, a filly foal by Dooneen Supermatch, when she was sold to Rose Marsden. The sale-topping vendor Michael Jennings sold another filly foal, Lot 583 Ballygarris Starlight (Bohola Mirah) for €3,200 to Ian Donoghue. Also commanding the same price was Lot 435, Vinura Hugo, a colt by Whitehorn Buchaill Bui, sold by Roger Brady to Catherine Dunne.

Connemara Pony Sales will now run a one-day sale on December 4th, “which may extend to two days if oversubscribed”. It is a new fixture of the calendar due to the demand and while a sale ran on the date last year, it was the delayed October sale due to Covid-19 restrictions.