Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

Bridge the sales divide and reap stock rewards

Using top quality mares and stallions offers the best route to breeding profit

Lot 115, a four-year-old dark bay filly by Ekstein, out of a Cloughjordan Boy mare, sold for €6,100 at Cavan in June
Lot 115, a four-year-old dark bay filly by Ekstein, out of a Cloughjordan Boy mare, sold for €6,100 at Cavan in June
Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

With a price range from €100 up to €20,000 at this year's sport horse sales, the difference between the top and bottom end of the market is extremely pronounced.

While breeders are urged to aim for the top end of the market every year, the fact remains that there are breeders at the bottom end for whom the only decision that must be made is when to stop.

New sales analysis from Teagasc equine expert Wendy Conlon compares last year's and this year's sales figures from public auctions at Cavan, Goresbridge and the inaugural Elite Event Horse sale at Tattersalls.

Teagasc has conservatively estimated the cost of producing a three-year-old horse to be €3,444, not including professional fees, mare depreciation, land lease and machinery costs, which can add a considerable amount to the final figure.

"With a mere 32pc of three-year-olds making more than €3,000 and only 20pc making more than €4,000 so far this year, that leaves an awful lot of horses in the red," said Ms Conlon. "On the other hand, it also indicates that 20pc of producers are getting it right and, with a bit more prudence, this can be expanded in the future.

"There are many breeding horses at the lower end of the market which are making a considerable loss. For the most part, many of these mares should not be bred again. It is a false economy and the market does not desire their produce.

"More prudent breeding decisions are required."

The table (right), compiled by Ms Conlon, outlines the number of horses and the percentage sold in each price category in the two years.

Also Read

"These figures [in the table] only take into account the transactions in Goresbridge and Cavan, which may not reflect private sales across the country," she said.

"The stock that goes through the public sales rings only represents a very small proportion of the national population in each age category, but are a marker nevertheless."

The highest priced sport horse at public auction so far this year was sold at the Tattersalls Elite Event Horse Sale last month. Garrybritt Bonny, a five-year-old mare by the Belgian Warmblood Ramiro B out of Bonny Coin (ISH) by the thoroughbred Seclude and out of an ISH mare by Kilcullen Lad (ISH), was sold for €20,000 on the day.

The next highest price was for a three-year-old gelding sold in Goresbridge last month for €18,500. This individual was by the thoroughbred sire Young Convinced and out of Ballybrohan Diamond, an ISH mare by Coevers Diamond Boy.


Next up was another horse from the Tattersalls event sale, Garrybritt Calvin, a five-year-old gelding by the Oldenburg S1 stallion Tannenhoff Carmelito S, which achieved €17,000.

Coming in at €15,500 at Cavan in April was Stoney Road Lad, an eight-year-old gelding by OBOS Quality out of Miss Lucky Imp, an ISH premier mare by Master Imp out of a Diamond Serpent mare, while the grand dam sire was the thoroughbred Ozymandias.

Another graduate of the Tattersalls sale, sold for €15,000, was Mill Quarter Boy, a seven-year-old gelding by Puissance (ISH) out of Glen Tris (ISH) by the thoroughbred Don Tristan, out of an ISH mare by Highland King (ISH).

In Goresbridge, the hammer fell at €13,000 for Lislan Gem, a three-year-old filly by Beowulf (ISH), a son of Cruising, and out of Lislan Blue, an ISH mare whose breeding was not recorded.

The hammer fell for KEC Corsica, a seven-year-old gelding by the Oldenburg stallion Corghano at €12,500, this one out of Lisselton Vella, an ISH mare by the thoroughbred Ballinvella.

The highest priced four-year-old was a mare by the thoroughbred sire Rich Rebel out of Boley Diamond, an ISH mare by the thoroughbred Sky Boy and out of an ISH mare by King of Diamonds (RID).

"A common thread in the above is the predominance of thoroughbred in the breeding of these horses," Ms Conlon said.

When the Teagasc expert compared the sales results for last year and this year, she found the following trends:

  • There was no difference in the number of three-year-olds sold, averaging 340 both years to the end of last month.
  • About half of the three-year-olds (45pc 12 months ago and 54pc this year) were sold for €1,000-3,000.
  • For the period to the end of last month, the number of horses that sold for €1,000-2,000 rose by 21 between last year and this. Also in the same period, the number of horses sold for €4,000-5,000 fell by 25.
  • There was no significant difference in the number of four-year-olds sold between the two years, averaging 470 horses for the period to end of last month.
  • Some 50pc of the four-year-olds last year and 58pc this year were sold for €1,000-3,000. This means that for a significant number of producers there is no added value in producing the horse to four years of age.
  • One of the main differences between last year and this was that 54 more four-year-olds were sold for less than €2,000 and 49 less in the €4,000-plus range.
  • In the five-year-old and older age category, there were 165 more horses sold this year than to 12 months ago when the period to the end of last month was compared.

However, a significant proportion of older horses were sold for €1,000-4,000 (69pc last year and 74pc this year). This is another hard pill for producers to swallow.

  • In this older category, 74 more horses were sold for €1,000-2,000, while an extra 36 sold for €2,000-3,000 and 37 more sold for €3,000-4,000, when the two sets of figures were compared. Although more older horses changed hands this year, they were mainly in the lower price categories.

Meanwhile, initial analysis from another member of the Teagasc equine team, Ruth Fennell, shows that up to the end of last month, the average price for four-year-old horses this year has been €2,504.

This figure is based on Cavan and Goresbridge results for the first nine months of this year and is down around €400 on the average figure for the entire 12 months last year.

Average sales figures for three-year-olds this year, to the end of last month, is €2,737, which is running close to last year's average of €2,743.

The average price for five-year-olds and older so far this year is €2,867, compared to last year's average of €3,204.

However, the gap between last year and this is narrowed when the exceptional €150,000 sale of showjumping mare Touchable is excluded to give an average of €3,011 for last year.

Irish Independent