AN astounding 90% clearance rate at the Connemara Pony Sales in Clifden last weekend demonstrated that the demand for ponies is at an all-time high and, with 135 ponies sold overseas, the international market for Connemara ponies continues to grow.
A top price of €16,000 is the second highest price for a pony in the 32-year history of the sales at the Clifden mart venue, while another four ponies made a five-figure sum. That price of €16,000 fell to Leonie McCormack’s five-year-old mare Fuinseog Melvin Lady who, after a tussle between two bidders, was knocked down to Ballinasloe’s Kieran Egan.
By the sire Lough Melvin Gorteen out of Fuinseoig Fairy (Killacloran Fuinnseoig), McCormack purchased the 15.1hh mare as a rising four-year-old just over a year ago and produced her herself.
Delighted with the return on her first time to sell at Clifden, McCormack commented: “It was incredible, I couldn’t believe it. I was set on a price of €10,500 in my head and had a fair bit of interest in her; especially from the under bidder who came over to try her.”
McCormack, who is in her first year of studying auctioneering in Dublin, added: “I bought her with nothing done and since then she has done it all from hunting to show jumping and working hunters. She was second as a four-year-old in a strong Connemara class at Nugentstown Agricultural Show. I am just delighted with her.”
Egan, who also signed for the top lot at last December’s sale, commented: “She is a lovely mare, very easy to ride. They had very good videos of her online that we liked and when we rode her in Clifden we liked her. The girl who sold her did a very good job on her.
“The plan is for Michelle Geraghty to do the performance classes on her this year. If someone comes along with enough money to buy her, she will be sold but for now Michelle will campaign her forward.”
Egan also snapped up Sunday’s sale topper when paying €12,500 for Joan Cleary’s five-year-old gelding Kildonan Lad (by Beagh Lad), Lot 296.
“I know the people that owned him, Paul Cleary from Athlone, who is a brother of the jockey Rory Cleary. When they produce them, they do them right and that is the reason I bought him.
“Paul had him very well produced and his son, who is only 11, had him hunted and done cross-country. The plan is to jump him on for the year.”
He added: “Clifden is very expensive for buyers at the minute. I sell most of mine privately and send a few over to my son, John [flat jockey], who sells a few for me in England.”
Earlier on Saturday, Lot 37, Keith Wilson’s eight-year-old gelding Clooneen Naoise was sold for €15,200.
The successful buyer was UK agent Laura Lee Hatton for Pennsylvania’s Lisa Marie Ferguson. By Robe Arrow, the gelding has hunted, show jumped and done cross-country, and described as easy to do in all ways.
Lot 37, Clooneen Naoise, was sold for €15,200 at the Connemara Pony Sales last weekend \ Sean McAleer
In fact, three ponies in total were sold to the USA over the weekend, which was a welcome return to this market. International buyers were active throughout, none more so than the British, with a total of 75 ponies sold to our nearest neighbours.
Leading the pack was the UK-based duo of Hannah Taylor and Patrick O’Gorman who signed for 14 ponies. The highest price they paid was €11,500 for Frankie Geary’s Clonberne Snowball (Lot 135), a five-year-old gelding by Eagle’s Ledge.
The final five-figure sum came a few lots earlier when American online buyer Melissa Switer paid €11,200 for Saoirse Chatham’s 148cm Bramley Orchard (Lot 125) who is by Fortrane Stuart.
Among the other top lots snapped up by Taylor was Faye O’Connor’s Lot 221 Cloneenagh Dark Shadow (Lishmar Shadow) for €9,500; Lot 31, Fanta Ricky (Shadow’s Dun), for who she gave owner David O’Leary €9,200; while she paid €8,200 apiece for Lot 134, Caroline Duke’s Hillview Oliver (Lightening Star), and Lot 131, Killymard Caco (Little Chieften) who was sold by Shauna Dreelan.
Lot 269, Kildonan Lad made the highest price in the ring on Sunday when sold for €12,500 \ Sean McAleer
Sligo’s Tiernan Gray was active through the sale, signing for 10 lots. Early on Saturday, he gave €9,400 for Lot 47, Branchfield Billy, a 12-year-old gelding by Tully D out of an Ardgaineen Boy mare. Consigned to the sale by Noel Benson, the grey gelding has 83 Showjumping Ireland points to date in competitions up to 1m.
At €8,200, Gray signed for Lot 39, Mark Condron’s five-year-old Cremello mare Rathvaldron Cream (by Lightening Star), and a little later in the day, he paid €8,000 for Zorro’s Melody, a six-year-old liver chesnut gelding sold by Bronwyn Mulvey.
The Belgian market was popular once again with a total of 22 ponies sold, as well as nine sold to Denmark and France, four to Sweden, and three to Austria, Wales and USA.
The German market held strong too (10) and regular Clifden buyer Hannah Neupartel signed for two of the top 20 lots. She gave €8,000 for Eugene O’Leary’s 15.1hh five-year-old gelding Kiltormer King (Lot 65), who is by Laerkens Cascade Dawn, and €7,800 for Faye O’Connor’s four-year-old bay gelding Goodluck Teddie (Lot 165).
Eugene O’Leary also achieved a price of €8,100 for Lot 159, Corker Jasper, a five-year-old dun gelding by Kilberin Mike who was knocked down to UK buyer Kay Sinclair Jones.
“It was a very buoyant sale to kick the year off,” said Ann de Courcey of Connemara Pony Sales. “There were a lot of new faces and new buyers, both present on the day and online which was very active with 55 sold on MartEye. International representation was huge again, a lot of people from the UK here.
“We are very pleased for the breeders and producers of the ponies to get a strong return and it bodes well for the year ahead.” The next sale takes place on Saturday, April 9th.