When the great Seamus Hayes and Goodbye won the first Hickstead Derby in 1961, his reward was £400 from a prize fund of £1,200.

The last time it was run in 2019 Ireland’s Mikey Pender got almost a hundred times that amount from the £105,000 on offer. That is a snapshot of the explosion in show jumping prizes that has happened over the past 60 years.

When Kerrygold first sponsored Dublin Horse Show in 1989, Nelson Pessoa’s prize for winning the Grand Prix on the Irish-bred Special Envoy was £20,000. Ten years later, Britain’s John Whitaker took £33,000.

When the show returns for 2022 the Grand Prix will be worth €350,000 and the lucky winner will get well in excess of €100,000. This has now become the rising norm around the world and as a result the price of young potential Grand Prix and Nations Cup horses has risen with it.

No wonder my colleague Sally Parkyn could declare in her superb Irish Field review of 2021 “a record number of five-figure sales and consistently strong clearance rates marked the unqualified success of the 2021 sport horse sales year”.

In 1925, Colonel Ziegler of the Swiss army met Hon WE Wylie, KC and suggested that if Ireland could stage an international competition at Ballsbridge, it would be a way of exhibiting Irish horses on a world platform.

When Wylie sought support from the young Free State Government for the first Aga Khan Trophy, he believed it would help the “small Irish farmers through increased sales of horses”. The same can be said now of the veritable explosion in prize-money for show jumping across the globe. Top riders can now win millions in a single season. During 2019, no less than five of them – including our own Darragh Kenny – won over €2m.

Fuelling much of this massive increase is the unique rivalry between high-class watchmakers Longines and Rolex. With its many time-related classes and strong event attendances, show jumping is very suitable for support from these companies. Longines first led the way when backing not only the World Cup but the Global Champions Tour and the FEI Nations Cup series as well.

Rolex came in with a €1m Grand Slam concept at shows like Aachen, Geneva and Calgary. But for the season ahead Rolex has upped the ante once more as it initiates a new Nations Cup series at what used to be traditional Longines venues like La Baule, Aachen and Rome. For the first time in the sport’s history, the Nations Cup at Aachen will have €1m on offer. With remounts at a premium, sales are bound to improve. Oh to have a potential Nations Cup youngster for Cavan, Mullingar or Cavan this year.