In certain disciplines, such as show jumping, dressage and racing, the best horses in the business can fetch eye-watering amounts of money. Dressage legend Totilas, for example, was purchased by Paul Schockemohle for an estimated $21 million back in 2010. Considering how the black stallion’s career went downhill afterwards, perhaps it didn’t turn out to be the wisest of investments.
So what made such an experienced horseman as Paul Schockemohle shell out so much money for such a horse? Totilas had already attained legendary status, breaking records everywhere he competed, so inevitably the price tag was high, plus, of course, he was intended for breeding.
In racing, the asking price for a horse can be anything up to US$70 million — Coolmore Stud allegedly paid this in 2000 for the stallion Fusaichi Pegasus, one of the fastest Kentucky Derby winners in history.
But which equines have recently gone under the hammer for large sums (during private sales, the price tends to remain private) and what was the buyer looking for?
Greek show jumper Athina Onassis (heiress to the family’s shipping fortune) purchased MHS Going Global, ridden at the Rio Olympics by Ireland’s Greg Broderick, for a reputed £10.2 million. As a 10-year-old, he should have plenty of mileage left in him, while there is room for improvement on his 53rd Rio Olympic placing.
Palloubet d’Halong was sold for a reputed record of €11 million in 2013 to the wealthy Qatar equestrian team. The chestnut gelding had pulled off some eye-catching CSI5* results with his original rider, Janika Sprunger, but he hasn’t been seen in action under the Qatar flag since the Valkenswaard CSI2* last May.
In August 2014, SPH Dante, by Welfenadel, broke all records at Performance Sales International (PSI) in Ankum, Germany, when sold to Russia for €2.8 million. Prospective buyers were pitted against each other because of the precocious talent of the seven-year-old, whose expertise in the arena belied his years.
Last May, a striking black stallion called Ferrari sold for €1.5 million at the PSI auction. The four-year-old by Foundation was snapped up by Patrice Mourruau of Dressage Grand Ducal. The buyer, who is a banker, was impressed by the striking Oldenburg’s movement, as well as the fact that he had already claimed the red rosette in the stallion division at Rastede’s Oldenburg Regional Young Horse Championships.
A seven-year-old mare called Donna, by Uptown, sold for £120,000 at Brightwells auction in 2015. The sale for the mare, who has proven competition prowess, set a new UK auction record.
Cornascriebe Glenpatrick, who competed at the young horse world championships at Le Lion d’Angers as a six-year-old, set a record at Ireland’s Goresbridge Go For Gold Sale when sold for €160,000. He was purchased by Ellie Guy Eventing for Somerset rider Millie Dumas to aim at Tokyo.
With family connections counting for a lot in racing, a colt by the highly regarded former Thoroughbred racehorse Dubawi, whose offspring are already winners on the turf, sold for 2.6 million guineas at last year’s three-day Tattersalls October yearling sale. The colt, bred at the Meon Valley Stud, is out of Prix de l’Opera winner Zee Zee Top and is a brother to the Group 1 winner Izzi Top.
But the Dubawi colt was topped across the Pond by Unrivaled Belle. She was sold at Keeneland in Kentucky as 2016 drew to a close, changing hands for US$3.8 million to make her the most expensive Thoroughbred sold at auction anywhere in the world last year. The former Grade 1 winner was purchased by Whisper Hill Farm for use as a broodmare. She was sold in foal to leading sire Tapit.