AN Irish horse that couldn't be sold for €800 as a foal in Ireland has been snapped up by a well-heeled Russian buyer for €400,000.
Arraghbeg Clover, who was bred in Co Offaly, went unsold in Ireland as a foal four years ago when her breeder was told she was "not worth more than €800".
But the young mare went on to become one of the most valuable showjumping mares in the world when she won a gold medal at the 2013 world championships for young horses.
On Tuesday night, she was the centrepiece of an annual elite sale of showjumping horses organised by German dealer Holger Hetzel.
She went on to top the sale at €400,000 and was sold to Russian showjumper Vladimir Beletzkyi.
The charismatic 42-year-old Russian is a regular on the Global Champions Tour and is known as 'Mr Smiles' in Russian showjumping circles as a result of his good humour and showmanship in the ring.
Arraghbeg Clover, a registered Irish Sport Horse, was bred in Carrig, Co Offaly, by Polish native Agata Leonard who moved to Ireland some 15 years ago, married her husband Declan and started a family. Alongside raising her two children, Agata runs an equestrian business called Arraghbeg Stables.
Arraghbeg Clover was sold several times since she was bred by Agata, moving through the hands of Co Clare breeder Gerry Malcolm, Athlone dealer Jim Derwin and Tipperary showjumper Greg Broderick in the past four years.
It was in Mr Broderick's yard that she flourished, winning the Irish Sport Horse Studbook national league title, a broodmare futurity class at the RDS and the richest prize in Europe for young showjumpers, the Irish Breeders Classic.
"I am so delighted, it's incredible," Agata told the Irish Independent.
"Of course I am a bit gutted that I didn't get that price for her myself but she wouldn't have become what she is now if she stayed with me.
"I wish the new owner the best of luck with her. It's a beautiful feeling to know that she did so well, I am quite emotional just thinking about it.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could breed a horse like that."
The pinnacle of the mare's success was winning the world championship for five-year-old showjumping horses in Lanaken, Belgium, last September.
Her win was so impressive that Greg had barely dismounted from the mare before potential buyers flocked over to him.
Within minutes, the mare had been bought from Mr Broderick and his co-owner Declan Orpen by the German dealer Holger Hetzel to become the star of his annual sale.
Horse Sport Ireland chief executive Damian McDonald said Arraghbeg Clover had given Irish breeding a great boost on the world stage throughout 2013.
"It's a tribute to how well she was produced by her rider Greg Broderick and her breeder Agata Leonard that she sold for €400,000 at such a high-profile sale," he added.