The store horse sales season began this week and, though this column was written before the first lot entered the sales ring at Doncaster, there are definite signs that the market will be softer than in recent years and there should be value for buyers at Tattersalls Ireland and Goffs in the coming weeks.

First of all, there is no doubt that the point-to-point market has peaked and therefore, handlers and their investors won’t have the same buying power this year.

There have been five point-to-point sales at Tattersalls Cheltenham so far in 2024 and all of them saw a drop in prices from the previous year, sometimes a significant drop. True, the number of horses being offered for sale at those auctions was down significantly too, mostly because the spring was so wet which caused a lot of point-to-points to be cancelled, but there are also reports of sickness in some yards.


Whatever the reason, it means that these handlers still have plenty of last year’s stock on their hands and not as much cash as they’d like to spend at the sales.

Last year, six of the top seven buyers at the Tattersalls Ireland May Store Sale were point-to-point handlers. They filled six of the top 10 places in the list of Derby Sale buyers and also underpinned the Goffs Arkle Sale market.

If the point-to-point handlers are quieter at the store sales, who will take their place? You couldn’t count on the British market. Things are definitely cooler in that jurisdiction, based on the recent breeze-up sales.

Top Irish-based racehorse owners such as Michael O’Leary (Gigginstown), Brian Acheson (Robcour), Noel and Valerie Moran (Bective Stud) and possibly J.P. McManus might be tempted to step up their spending but they will be selective. Who will buy all the middle market horses? It could be a very good time to put a syndicate together.

This column can’t help you to select a potential purchase but here’s a few tips on where you might find value. Ignore the French pedigrees – that market is overvalued now. Ridiculous as it may seem, some buyers would rather take a chance on a French sire they have never heard of rather than stick with a decent Irish or British stallion. The best French pedigrees are not for sale.

A feature of last year’s foal sales was the concentration of demand on the progeny of two or three stallions. But the results at Cheltenham and in this year’s point-to-points suggest that a wide range of stallions have a strike-rate to match those market leaders.

It might not be the worst strategy in the world to completely ignore the sire when studying pedigrees at the store horse sales. Instead, look for a racehorse, ideally out of a dam who has already bred winners. Good luck!

Upcoming Store Horse Sales

May 30: Tattersalls Ireland May Store Sale

Jun 11-13: Goffs Arkle Sale

Jun 26-27: Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale