In the coming weeks, 10 Goresbridge Go for Gold graduates will be transported from Ireland to their new homes throughout North America. The Go For Gold sale has produced such stars as Buck Davidson’s Copper Beach and Jonty Evans’ Rio ride Cooley Rorkes Drift, so we’re looking forward to watching the careers of these talented youngsters evolve.
Debbie Adams purchased 5-year-old SRS Cruiseland, a stunning 5-year-old grey gelding who is the grandson of two extremely influential jumping and eventing stallions: Cor de la Bryere and Cruising. Debbie has an extremely good eye for prospects — a recent notable would be D.A. Duras, one of Lauren Kieffer’s current CCI3* string — and has long been active in the USEA young horse programs.
Canadian Karl Slezak purchased 4-year-old Flogas Stepping Stone, an attractive 3-year-old by Loughehoe Guy and out of Tireragh Stepping Stone by Limmerick, making him a half-brother to Cruising Guy, winner of the Horseware Indoor Eventing Challenge at the Royal with Michael Jung. Karl’s wife Katelyn will welcome home 4-year-old Drombane Dynamite (Harlequin du Carel X Drombane Dilemma by VDL Arkansas), the winner of the 2016 Discovery Class at Millstreet International.
Steve Blauner bought 5-year-old Night Quality. He’s out of a mare called Night Fly by the KWPN stallion Maltstriker. Night Quality is a half-brother to Will Coleman’s four-star eventer OBOS O’Reilly through their sire OBOS Quality. Stephen’s second purchase will be heading to South Carolina for training with Doug and Jessica Payne. We caught up with the Paynes as well as Ruthie Meyer to hear more about their new prospects, but first let’s take a quick look at some other the notable notes from the sale.
Prior to the start of the sale, EN perused the Go for Gold catalogue and selected our top three horses we’d love to bring home. One of those, 6-year-old Cornascriebe Glenpatrick just happened to be the highest selling horse of this year’s sale, selling for €160,000 to Ellie Guy Eventing, which blew the previous sales record of €85,000 out of the water.
Another of our picks, Clare Abbott’s 2014 World Equestrian Games mount Euro Prince did not sell, as his €140,000 reserve could not be reached. Clare told Horse & Hound that “his age is a little bit against him,” but the good news is that Clare gets to keep the ride for now.
The second highest sale was Loughnavatta Cedar — another horse EN tapped — a 7-year-old gelding with two-star experience and a participant at the 2016 FEI World Breeding Championship at Le Lion d’Angers with Camilla Speirs. Owner Rory Costigan sold this special homebred for €70,000.
British Team rider Oliver Townend’s CCI3* winner Cooley SRS is a Goresbridge Go For Gold graduate, and we hope he finds equal success with his new mount, an unnamed 3-year-old gelding sired by Gemini XX, a clone of the legendary show jumper Gem Twist. He was purchased for €31,000.
Meyer Bids for Perfect Amateur Partners
Ruthie Meyer runs a sales business with her husband, New Zealand eventer Joe Meyer, who frequently goes overseas to source horses for clients. Joe was unable to travel over for the Go For Gold sale, so Ruthie found herself on two back-to-back shopping trips to Europe in two weeks. On her first trip she attended Ireland’s Monart Sale, then spent only a few days at home before turning around and going back for Go For Gold, where she selected and purchased four lovely youngsters for clients.
Four-year-old Tomgar Conspiracy and 4-year-old Master Cobra will go straight to their new amateur owners while Buccaneer and Patrickswell Royal were purchased as investments for a client and will head to the Meyers’ farm in Florida to be produced and sold.
Buccaneer is a lovely 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Clover Brigade X Tobar Bhride by Good Thyne) and is half-brother to four-star horses Bosun and First Mate. Patrickswell Royal is a 4-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Royal Storm and out of Rahard Sally. Patrickswells Royal’s damsire, Kings Master, is a son of the world famous event horse sire, Master Imp.
“I didn’t expect we’d be able to get Buccaneer. He had gone from his first Novice to winning at Preliminary in four months this year. I talked to the rider that produced him extensively and he hasn’t been broken even a year,” Ruthie said. “He went very well during the whole thing and he also just had the eye that I really liked. He’s a very kind horse. I’m thinking that he’s going to make an awesome junior/young rider type horse. The same with the mare. She’s green but I picked her on temperament and I’m glad we got her.”
Ruthie had been to the Go For Gold sale once before with Joe, which was the year they found a gem in Copper Beach, who ran his first four-star at Rolex Kentucky this year with Buck Davidson. “Martin Donohoe of Goresbridge kept telling me he hoped I would get one as good as Copper Beach out of this year’s sale,” Ruthie said. “One can only hope!”
On this trip Ruthie was looking for great amateur partners with one- and two-star potential. For a horse like this, Ruthie places a heavy emphasis on temperament. “I look for something that looks like it will be enjoyable to ride and train, the ones that are still trying even though they are tired (from three days of showcases). There’s a horse for everybody. In the end you want to make sure you find one that will do the job well for somebody,” she said.
“I had to go by myself and my clients had faith in me that I would make the right decisions, but you still never know that it will work out when you get back … We sell a lot of horses so for our clients, if a horse is not perfect for them they have an outlet to sell to us because it may be perfect for someone else.”
Paynes Welcome Two New Stars
Doug and Jessica Payne took their first trip to the Go For Gold sale at the urging of their friend and supporter Steve Blauner. Steve had purchased two horses at the sale last year, including Mr. Mitchel, who placed eighth at the USEA 4-year-old Young Event Horse Championships at Fair Hill just weeks after being crowned the 2016 Beginner Novice Horse Champion at the American Eventing Championships with Doug in the irons.
“We jumped at the opportunity to go,” Doug said. “It was a very interesting process. There is a lot to be learned … The two we came away with seemed well balanced, intelligent, smart and athletic horses. They are very inquisitive and easy going. They took everything in stride and seemed good natured in their outward appearance, and they looked incredibly sound back in the barn.”
Jessica purchased Designer Class (Chakiris X Roinin Dubh by Glenlara), who is 80% Thoroughbred and has close relations to several four-star event horses. Steve purchased an unnamed 3-year-old (Ars Vivendi X Olympics Corner by Olympic Lux) from Brandon View Stud, who will join Designer Class at the Paynes’ farm in Aiken. “These two were our favorites and we’re very lucky we got them,” Jessica said.
Doug and Jessica had observed all the young horses in the riding and free jump showcases, taken notes and highlighted their top picks. When they met the horses up close in the barns, they were joined by Steve’s brother Peter Blauner, VMD, who helped evaluate the horses’ soundness. Although their list of top choices changed as they got to know the horses more, Designer Class was one of Jess’s first picks, and he remained a favorite through to the end.
“His demeanor was quiet but his form never changed,” Jessica said. “He has very good form up front and behind, and it was effortless for him.”
Doug and Jessica will get their new prospects started slowly, and the coming 4-year-olds will start with ground work and lunging before going under saddle. Designer Class has a jump start on long lining and lunging already and Jessica hopes to be riding him soon.
“Aiken is awesome for the winter season for young horses, which is why we love coming here,” Jessica said. “Once we start breaking them, usually a couple of months in they can go to local shows and jumpers during the spring. It’s really cost effective and inexpensive to bring young ones along in Aiken. We can go from there and see what they’re about. If they don’t want to be event horses, we always make sure there is another avenue.”
Inside the Goresbridge Go For Gold Sale
The Goresbridge Go for Gold auction is a branch of the Goresbridge Horse Sales long run by the Donohoe family. The horses included in the Go for Gold sale are carefully selected by a panel of professionals that this year included Sally Parkyn, Clare Ryan and Chris Ryan. Prior to the sale, a detailed catalogue outlining the pedigree and experience of each horse is released along with performance footage. All horses undergo a vetting, and full sets of radiographs are made available to potential buyers.
“Goresbridge is an extremely professional operation and that has been an ingredient for success. I can’t say enough good things about the organization of it,” Ruthie said.
That being said, it is a unique horse shopping experience. Jessica mentioned that her list of top picks changed because the ones she liked on video were not necessarily the ones she liked in person. For Ruthie, the challenge is to identify the good qualities of a horse that may be tired from several days of showing.
“For the most part they are 4- and 5-year-old horses, and they can be pretty cooked by Wednesday on the third day,” Ruthie said. “You have to be able to see the difference between a tired horse and one that is careless or dull.”
While there are representatives for the horses present to share insight on how a horse has been produced or answer any questions a potential buyer may have, Ruthie said you can learn more about the horses standing ringside and watching a variety of other people ride them and see how they respond.
Doug agreed that it isn’t often that a buyer can sit and watch a great number of nice young horses be presented in such a way. “If you just sit down and to see all these quality horses in one place you can tell a lot about them and their different personality traits and how they figure out what is being asked of them,” he said.
As for the auction itself, Doug and Jess found that there is some strategy to keeping up with the ebb and flow of bidding. “Jess liked another one too, but it’s a risk,” Doug said. “If the first one goes cheap, do you go for that or wait and hope the next one doesn’t get too expensive?”
Two beautiful grays, one of which was Oliver Townend’s new son of a Gem Twist clone, were presented just prior to Designer Class, a plain bay. After the two flashy grays went for €31,000 and €22,000, Doug felt that maybe Designer Class went a little “under the radar.” This may have worked in their favor, as they snagged Jessica’s new mount for just €12,500.
Could It Work Here?
Finding and producing quality young horses in the United States is a complex conversation. On the one hand, U.S. event horse breeders often lament that upper-level riders and agents routinely travel to Europe in search of prospects. Despite the expense of international travel and importing, there are many arguments for shopping overseas, the density of quality sale horses and the ability to view many at one time being among them.
And while USEA’s Young Event Horse and Future Event Horse programs have made great strides in showcasing up-and-coming event horses and prospects in the States, there is still the challenge of bringing buyers and sellers together. So, we wondered aloud to both Ruthie and Doug, could an organized sale or auction like Goresbridge Go for Gold work in the U.S.?
“The values are certainly going up for good quality horses, so if you can produce them there is obviously a significant market for well-started good quality horses. The downside is finding them,” Doug said. “We’ve been very lucky to have a lot of domestically bred horses. If you’re going to go find babies it’s hard to do. Our strategy has been to have one yearling per year and we do our best to beat bushes and find babies.”
Ruthie felt that if someone would put in the time and effort to organize an event where sellers could showcase their youngsters and buyers could see a lot of quality animals in one place, it could be great for breeders as well as for the buyers. But she stressed that the young horses found at sales like Goresbridge Go For Gold are produced for that purpose.
“By and large a lot of top level four-star riders go to the sale to buy 3-year-olds. You see it loose jump and know they can get something at a decent price that might be a four-star prospect,” Ruthie said. “If it’s something that could take off in the States and tap into breeders that are around and get them to get 3-year-olds to the sales, it would be really good here.”