Any doubts that last year’s boom in the sport sales might not continue were firmly quashed at Cavan last Wednesday when the season’s opener garnered some remarkable returns.
Much to the delight of connections, trade was sizzling from the get go and as five-figure prices came thick and fast, three emerged from the pony sector alone.
In fact, the smaller of the species produced three of the top four prices, contributing to a significant clearance of 94% along with a weighty average of €6,708.
Looking back over what was an outstanding day’s trading, Stuart Clarke commented: “It was a fantastic day and we will make the most of it.
“The breeders and producers deserve it – they’ve had some tough years.”
Not for the first time at the venue, the sale topping honours emerged from the pony sector. At €21,000 this accolade fell to Hillswood Boy, a 148cm jumping pony with star potential. Consigned by Sligo-based Sarah Jane Reynolds,The lightly competed five-year-old by Royale Cruise was bred by Niall Boyle and was out of an unrecorded dam.
The grey had been the subject of much interest all morning, so it was unsurprising to see him become the subject of a lengthy and competitive exchange. In the end, however, the hammer fell in favour of regular trade customer Bob Sweeney (B. Sweeney Equine Ltd), who sells from his base in Ballina.
Busy throughout, the Mayo man progressed to secure a further two five-year-old ponies, this time from the 138cm height range.
I liked all three, especially the bigger one
In a sector which was notable for recording 100% clearance, Sweeney paid €15,500 for Patrick O’Looney’s purebred Connemara mare Birchill All Star by Silver Shadow and signed for Nathalie O’Shea’s Killerisk Solo (breeding unrecorded) at €12,500.
“I liked all three, especially the bigger one,” he said afterwards. “I was, however, surprised at the prices – they were very dear indeed.”
Trade was at its strongest for quiet horses with plenty of mileage and one such example was Diarmuid Ryan’s 14-year-old Dartans First Lady who headed the horse division at €17,000. This well-produced mare, who stands at just 158cm, has enjoyed a successful career in working hunter classes, and indeed has been placed fourth in the 1.20m intermediate class at HOYS back in 2016. She is also fully warranted and it was this guarantee that appealed to English customer Charlotte Williams.
Guildford-based Williams, who was buying for her 14-year-old daughter, was visiting the venue for the first time, having previously bought online.
A total of 11 lots realised five-figure returns
While the buyers from the private sector were busy, so were the traders. Despite the high prices, they had order books to fill and it was Yorkshire-based Graham Sugden who went to €11,700 for Rhiannon Burton’s SFH Golden Moment. Traditionally bred, this five-year-old gelding, who was by Barely A Moment out of Lisrore Cashel Bay (Moy Haze Cove), had evented at EI 90 level and was quiet in all respects.
A total of 11 lots realised five-figure returns, among which was Keith Wilson’s 12-year-old Valleyfield Lady. This experienced mare was sold online at €11,000, while Michael Coulters’s six-year-old Vicarstown Firefly looked well bought when knocked down to trader Tiernan Gray at €10,800. A further three older horses made €10,000 apiece, namely Brian Kelly’s 10-year-old event horse Libertatem (by Frankfort Boy), Michael Reilly’s Prince Bay, a five-year-old by FSS Corelli Bravo and Alex Donohoe’s useful all-rounder Model County Captivate (Chacoa)
The only lot to reach the €10,000 mark in the four-year-old sector was Eoin Horgan’s Slanelough Legacy, a well-related gelding by the Drumhowan Stud’s Cormint out of Slanelough Sharona (Ulysses M2s). Bred by Jennifer Joynt out of a full sister to the former Jonathan Gordon ride Slanelough Ultimatum (1.50m), he was one of two lots purchased by regular customer Amy Dunbar.
The remaining prices for the age group ranged upwards from €4,700.