“Absolutely mindboggling, €1.4m is serious money,” he declared yesterday.
However, what makes this story of note is the amount spent is in the public domain.
It’s likely that horses of that ability and potential would typically make a million-plus, the only difference being that such transactions are done behind closed doors.
This is particularly so when you consider we are in the run-up to the Olympics, plus when you take into account the horse’s future earnings potential. In terms of the latter, the 10-year-old Dougie and its seller/rider Holly Gillot (Graham Smith was a joint owner) was a member of the winning British team in the Furusiyya Series Nations Cup in Rome, plus was on the team that finished joint second in the Belgian equivalent. Also, it won the three-star grand prix in Odense, Denmark, having helped Britain to victory in the nations cup.
What will be telling is the identity of the new owner of Dougie, but the most Malahide man Barry O’Connor would disclose yesterday was that he had secured the horse on behalf of a US buyer.
“The new owner is an American woman, but she’s keeping her identity private for now. All I can say is that the horse will appear in Florida in a couple of weeks time with its new rider.
“The story behind this deal is that I was asked by Martin [Donohoe] to help with the sale. I sent the links to the horses out to people. I got a few enquiries, including from the buyer, who knew friends of mine in America. Actually, they haven’t even tried the horse, yet,” said O’Connor.
He did agree, though, that €1.4m would not be out of place for a top-class animal and he was not surprised to have to dig deep into his client’s pocket during Tuesday night’s bidding.
“This kind of money is not unusual around the world. What is news now is that Irish-bred horses can attract that kind of money.
“Good horses are a luxury item and they attract a premium. The high end of the market is strong and the calendar is clogged. Amateurs are even jumping up to 1.60m and the Global Champions Tour, for example, offers two-star competition, which has upped the level of people buying horses.
“We are starting to play European style. The potential is huge in this country. I’m quite excited about it.”
There were two under-bidders on the phone, one from the US and the second from England, said Donohoe, who would not disclose the reserve price.
No horse will succeed without talent and pedigree, obviously, but is it valued? Well to put things in context it’s worth recalling that Dougie Douglas actually sold at Goresbridge in 2009 to Gillot and Smith for, wait for it... €5,800.
Dougie Douglas is by the Dutch warmblood Ard VDL Douglas out of Neills Girl, by High Roller. He was bred by John O’Brien, Co Limerick.
Interestingly, O’Connor also acted as a client when splashing out €50,000 for an embryo on behalf of Swiss rider Beat Mandli. Its pedigree shouts success, its dam being the Irish-bred 2014 World Young Horse Championships silver-medal-winning mare Ard Ginger Pop, while its sire is Cornet Obolonsky, the world’s No. 2 sire. The foal is due on April 26.
Another horse that impressed was Alex Butler’s seven-year-old Dekato, which sold for €250,000. The bay gelding, which won an international class for seven/eight-year-old horses at this year’s Dublin Horse Show, went to British buyer Michael Drea for his show jumper daughter Jessie. He also paid €80,000 for the 11-year-old gelding Javas Wild Child.
On Wednesday, a record Goresbridge price of €85,000 was also paid for the 10-year-old mare Gorsehill Pearl at the Go For Gold sale of eventers. Mullingar eventer Joseph Murphy was the purchaser.
Dermott Lennon was one of only two riders to post a clear in the the Longines World Cup class at Toronto, Canada, on Wednesday.
However, being first to go with Loughview Lou Lou in the jump-off, and knowing his rival was US speed merchant McLain Ward, the Co Down rider’s bid for a fast round saw him lower two fences.
It took the pressure off Ward, who eased to a slow clear on HH Azur; so slow, in fact, he picked up a time fault, though Lennon still pocketed $26,400 (€24,400) for his efforts.
Conor Swail ensured an Irish victory in Tuesday’s $35,000 (€32,350) feature class, finishing with a second in hand on Martha Louise in the one-round speed contest.