For the second year in succession, a cluster of high-profile sales smashed Irish auction records. Show jumpers and event horses realised six-figure returns and prices for three-year-olds reached new heights.

Having made significant progress in 2015, the 2016 returns steadied and growth was slower than either anticipated or hoped for.

Clearance rates and averages seesawed at every sale and even age groups delivered unpredictable returns.

The older stock proved to be the most reliable sector, and the solid, if unspectacular, demand for hunters and riding horses was a constant of the year.

In the younger divisions, however, poor breeding decisions have caused a shortage of what is considered the ‘commercial horse’ and, as a result, the returns have been divided. Some will argue that too many of the better three-year-olds now head down the route of the autumn’s specialist auctions, but in reality there are only limited places available and competition is strong.

The decline in breeding numbers has further highlighted this scarcity and led to record prices for the top end stock.

Unless breeding practices improve, these rare gems will become even harder to source, and looking forward to 2017, pinhookers and producers are already finding it hard to restock.

The mandate for success is for a good model, with immediate blacktype on the dam’s side together with a fashionable continental sire.

The monetary divide between these show jumping-bred foals and the remainder is now a chasm.

Jay Bowe’s late thoroughbred sire Ghareeb boasted four progeny in the older horse top 10 (thoroughbreds), while other thoroughbreds to make an impact were Watermill Swatch (3) and Pointilliste (3).

Only four other sires had three offspring featured, namely the Irish Sport Horses Loughehoe Guy and Sligo Candy Boy, the popular Harlequin du Carel (SF) and the top foal sire Cornet Obolensky.

Two new sales made an appearance and first up was the Goresbridge Select Event Horse Sale in May. Carrying an opening catalogue of 28 pre-selected lots (25 forward), this fixture saw Jim Roberts’ Limestone Romeo (Womanizer) emerge on top at €30,000, while a total of 10 lots realised five-figure returns. The sale also produced the year’s highest priced thoroughbred-sired horse (ridden sector) when Hughie Ryan’s five-year-old potential event horse TRS Ghiancola was knocked down to Co Wicklow producer Richard Sheane for €22,500.

The inaugural TIH Hunter Show and Go auction took place at Scarteen in September. Confined to traditionally-bred stock, the sale of pre-selected, high-class hunters creditably recorded a top figure of €11,400.


Now in its third year, the Goresbridge Supreme Sale of Show Jumpers delivered another raft of high prices, but this was offset by a disappointing clearance. Topping the sale at €460,000 was Carl Hanley’s nine-year-old mare Nickoletta E (Nintender) who, under Cameron Hanley and Eoin McMahon, was a major winner in Ireland and on the continent.

Bred by Ernst Jurgen, the sale-topper was knocked down to Irish buyers Neal Fearon and Michael Kearns, while at €270,000, American customer Adrienne Dixon signed for John Kearney and Hugh Martin’s (KM Sport Horses) six-year-old Lanaken world champion Killossery Kaiden (Lux Z).

Records were smashed the following evening, when Glenpatrick Sport Horse’s Cornascriebe Glenpatrick by Womanizer (dam by Cavalier Royale) topped the Goresbridge Go For Gold Sale for event horses at €160,000.

Ridden by his owner Harold Megahey, the Carol Armstrong-bred six-year-old had represented Ireland at Le Lion d’Angers the previous month, and, after an exciting duel, was knocked down to Robin Dumas, on behalf of Somerset-based Ellie Guy Eventing.

Matthew Birch’s Irish-produced Cruise On-sired show jumper Mise Le Meas headed the ISH at the Supreme Sale of Show Jumpers, when he was knocked down to Canadian buyer, and former owner of Going Global, Lee Kruger for €80,000.

At the general sales in the country, demand for the older stock was steady and the market for warranted, up-to-weight hunters held up well. Competition horses dominated the better trade however, and heading the older horse tables at a healthy €20,000 was Lorraine Maher’s home-bred Derrylackey Heartbreaker. Sold at Cavan in June, the seven-year-old son of Eurocommerce Pittsburgh looked every inch a sale-topper and looked well bought by Co Laois buyer Tom Hutchinson.


Doubling the top price from the age group to realise €130,000, the biggest return of the season fell to Greg Broderick and Billy Twomey’s high-profile young show jumper J’Adore Flamenco. A son of Je T’Aime Flamenco, the highly rated gelding had landed the British four-year-old championships at the Scope Festival a few weeks earlier, and filling his slot at the Supreme Sale of Show Jumpers was another secured by Killossery Kaiden’s successful buyer, Adrienne Dixon.

The Go For Gold auction accounted for Ireland’s best sold four-year-old filly when Jason Higgins’ RDS event horse winner My Kilcannon Annie changed hands for €25,000. There was strong competition for the Eleaonor Hadden-bred daughter of Harlequin du Carel, as there was for Rehy MBF who headed the ISH returns at €27,000. Well produced by his consigners Brian Flynn and Meabh Bolger and bred by Martin Costello, the Rehy High Society-sired gelding went to Ellie Guy.

Illustrating the worrying deficit in the younger horse ranks, only three realised five-figure returns, and in the thoroughbred-sired lists, only five horses made in excess of €5,000.


Jason Higgins’ breath-taking jumper I’m Special LVS Z was the talk of the Goresbridge Supreme Jumping sale where he sold for a new age record of €64,000. Bred by Anne-Marie O’Gorman at Lissava Stud, the Californian-bound gelding is by I’m Special de Muze out of the KWPN-registered mare Claudi (by Canturo).

The thoroughbred sire fared here, with Michael Walters’ eye-catching gelding by the Gem Twist clone Gemini (CL) fetching €31,000. Sourced in Belgium, and sold at the Go For Gold sale, he was one of seven thoroughbred-sired three-year-olds to realise a five-figure sum during 2016. A similarly impressive son of Clover Flush flew the flag for the ISH when knocked down to top British international and sale selector Nicky Roncoroni for €26,000. Paula Widger bred this smart gelding, out of Poynstown Amy by Chill Out.

Just six fillies featured in the three-year-old rankings, with Patrick Talty’s daughter of Kannan selling at the Supreme Jumping sale for €36,000. Others to shine were Shannondale Stud’s filly by their resident stallion Shannondale Sarco, who sold at Monart for €35,000, and Vinnie Cousins’s lovely filly by OBOS Quality, who changed hands at the Cavan Elite Sale for €21,000.


Heading the year’s figures at a buoyant €18,000 was Killossery Lodge Stud’s filly foal by SIEC Livello out of the 1.60m show jumping mare Killossery Kruisette by Cruising. Sold at the Goresbridge Supreme Sale of Show Jumping foals, the well-related filly was a half-sister to the future Lanaken world champion Killossery Kaiden, and was knocked down to Ger O’Neill and Jonathan Fitzpatrick.

Narrowing the entry to just 14 pre-selected lots, the sale delivered a healthy clearance of 93%, while a further three foals realised €15,000.

Cavan’s Elite Foal sale saw John McKibbin’s colt Leestone Darco King by Darco knocked down to Belgian show jumper Ludo Philippaerts (€15,000). Out of the imported dam Zidane VM (Heartbreaker), the colt was one of three lots to realise a five-figure return at the auction which delivered a clearance of 56%.

This not only illustrates the selectivity of the market, but may indicate a growing dilemma of oversupply.

The sire of the moment, Cornet Obolensky, featured prominently throughout. Select sales aside, he also sired the top price (€11,000) at Goresbridge in October and was also responsible for an embryo which sold at the Goresbridge Supreme show jumping sale for €14,500.

Selling modestly throughout, the thoroughbred-sired stock marginally bettered those by sport horse stallions, and Goresbridge October foal sale figured in the results when a colt by Slyguff Stud’s thoroughbred sire Golden Master emerged to top the annual returns at €3,000.


The pony trade was solid enough throughout the year. A strong demand from mainland Europe boosted the figures, and heading them at €8,600 was Gerard Burke’s 148cms Latimer Lad who topped the Cavan market in March.

Note: tables published online.