Pipe down, Jon Snow – winter is officially here, if the state of our collective rug room is anything to go by. With the season wrapped – unless you’re lucky enough to be heading south – it’s time to focus on the essentials at home: solidifying and building upon your training, creating a robust plan of action for next year and, in many cases, adding to your blossoming string. And as reliably as the frost, November brings with it a host of sales around the world designed to help you do just that. But ask any rider – from enthusiastic amateurs with an eye for quality to Olympic medallists looking for their next podium partner – and they’ll all tell you one thing: you’ve got to head to Goresbridge Go For Gold, which takes place in at Barnadown and the neighbouring Amber Springs Hotel in Co. Wexford, Ireland, on the 11th and 12th of November.
The Goresbridge sale has existed since the 1960s as a family-run venture, although the jewel in its crown – the Go For Gold sale – is a much younger entity. This year, Go For Gold celebrates a decade as the leading sale of top-quality event horses in Europe, refining the usual sale model by utilising a stringent selection process to choose only the best of the best. The final field, usually hosting around 60 consignments, is narrowed down by a formidable team of selectors, made up of Chris Ryan, Clare Ryan, and Sally Parkyn, all of whom can take credit for sourcing a truly star-studded resume of horses through their careers. Backed up by a veterinary panel led by Irish team vet Hugh Suffern MVB MRCVS, they’ve created an appealing package that takes the risk – and much of the guesswork – out of choosing your next horse of a lifetime.
But when you’re hemming and hawing over attending a sale, what’s more potent in the decision-making process than seeing a string of previous successes? Today, we’re taking a look at some of the familiar faces whose illustrious careers began at Goresbridge. Some have come through Go For Gold, while others were sourced in the original sale – but all of them have left their mark on the sport in some way.
Ballynoe Castle RM
The all-time leading points-earning horse in US Eventing history – and now, a Breyer model – began his story at Goresbridge. Reggie certainly earned his status as one of the best-loved horses in the States, jumping clear around Badminton, Burghley, and of course, Kentucky on a number of occasions. His best placing at his home five-star was third and National Champion, and he enjoyed his last foray into the competition ring there too, performing the guinea pig test with longtime groom Kathleen Murray in 2017 after a winter of competing together.
Want your own Reggie? Lots 36 and 41 are also by the stallion Ramiro B.
A graduate of the 2011 Goresbridge sale – just the second running – Cooley SRS enjoyed an exciting career trajectory with Oliver Townend before heading down under to join Hazel Shannon’s string under his new name, Willingapark Cooley. While campaigned under the Union Jack, he enjoyed top-five finishes in multiple CCI4*-S classes, including Burgham, Ballindenisk, and Jardy, as well as a win in Ballindenisk’s CCI4*-L. He was part of the winning British team in the Nations Cup finale at Boekelo in 2016, where he finished third individually, and was team pathfinder at the 2017 Strzegom Europeans. In 2018, he finished second in his five-star debut at Badminton, and capped off the year with 12th place at Burghley, before his high-profile sale to Australia.
Though not even 16hh, little Lenamore was one of Burghley’s most popular winners when he took it in 2010 with New Zealand’s Caroline Powell. He was also a stalwart of the Kiwi squad, representing his adopted nation at both the 2008 and the 2012 Olympics, taking team bronze at the latter, and at the 2006 World Equestrian Games. He retired at the beginning of 2013, enjoying a farewell ceremony at Badminton, a competition he’d completed a record-setting seven consecutive times. Since then, he’s enjoyed life in the hunting field.
Lenamore is a graduate of the ‘original’ Goresbridge sale, and also an exemplary example of a classic Irish Sport Horse: his sire was the Registered Irish Draught Sea Crest, while his dam was a full Thoroughbred with superb racing lineage.
Named for the boozy evening at the sale in 2010 at which she was purchased, this rising star of the Irish team captured the attention – and the hearts – of the wider eventing world at Burghley last year, where she and Ciaran Glynn showed a tantalising glimpse of all that they’re capable of, finishing 14th overall. At Badminton this spring, their cross-country performance was one of the rounds of the day, notching up just six time penalties, and they delivered the first clear round inside the time at this summer’s European Championships.
Ringwood Sky Boy
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a sale of this calibre would only command top-end prices – but there are bargains to be had for the savvy shopper, and Ringwood Sky Boy is a classic tale of a cheap and cheerful purchase that came good. Originally bought as a resale project, the quirky youngster ended up a permanent piece of the furniture at Tim and Jonelle Price’s Wiltshire base, from which he strode proudly into a rather impressive career: ninth at his first Badminton in 2014, second at Burghley the following year, fourth at Luhmühlen in 2016 and the same at Burghley that autumn, fifth at Burghley in 2017, and finally, a five-star winner at the Lincolnshire fixture last year. Now sixteen, he’s still going great guns, with a tenth-place finish at Badminton this spring and very nearly another excellent Burghley result, but for a truly rubbish piece of luck when he tripped in the final water, sending Tim into the drink. Though not necessarily the most straightforward of horses, he’s certainly cemented himself as one of the great characters of the sport – and, we suspect, more than earned back the pittance paid in the first place.
Over the past few seasons, Ivar Gooden and Great Britain’s Imogen Murray have entertained eventing fans by offering them a glimpse of some rose-tinted heyday, something nostalgic and gung-ho that brings back memories of Ian Stark, Ginny Leng, and Blyth Tait bombing over timber. In doing so, the pair have established themselves as one of the most formidable cross-country partnerships on the circuit at the moment, with five clear rounds at five-star from five runs. This year, they finished in the top ten at both Badminton and Burghley, and although they’re not first-phase contenders, Ivar has won Badminton’s Glentrool Trophy – awarded to the highest climber throughout the week – twice in a row.
There are horses who make their name in a single dominant partnership, and then there are those who leave a mark on multiple teams throughout their long careers. The late Mr Medicott, who was partnered with three high-profile riders at the top level, is among the latter.
Originally bought by Nigel Taylor and then produced from a six-year-old to CCI5*-L by Germany’s Frank Ostholt, ‘Cave’ achieved a level of success in this formative partnership that eclipses many horses’ entire careers. Together, they finished second at Boekelo CCI4*-L in 2007, third at Aachen CCIO4*-S in 2008, won Saumur CCI4*-L in 2010, and was part of the gold medal-winning German team at the 2008 Olympics. That autumn, he finished third in the CCI5*-L at Pau, where he also finished tenth in 2011 in his last competition with Frank. Now the Stateside leg of his career was to begin: he was bought to target the 2012 Olympics with Karen O’Connor. They did just that, finishing ninth individually and taking fourth place at Kentucky that spring, too. But their partnership was to be a short one, as Karen would retire from competition at the end of 2012 following a major fall. Mr Medicott, still in the prime of his career, moved to Phillip Dutton’s string.
Their first five-star together would see them revisit the French five-star that had proven such a firm favourite of Cave’s – and that 2013 trip proved no different, resulting in a fourth-place finish for the new partnership. They would produce the goods at Kentucky the following season, though they withdrew before showjumping due to the aggravation of an old tendon injury, and after a couple of seasons out, they finished fourth at the US mainstay, earning the National Championship title.
In late 2017 and early 2018, Cave passed along some of his considerable experience to Olivia Dutton, helping her step up to CCI3*-S before retiring in the summer at Rebecca Farm, just moments after helping the Area II Young Rider team to a gold medal.
Mr Cruise Control
Let’s throw it back to another vintage Goresbridge graduate, and one of our favourite of Andrew Nicholson’s remarkable list of top-level partners – the divine Mr Cruise Control. After winning back-to-back titles at Hartpury CCI4*-S, the Cruising gelding took both Chatsworth CCI4*-S and Luhmühlen CCI5*-L in 2013, cementing his superstar status. And after that? He spent his later teens teaching British junior Thomas Hawke the ropes, taking him from two-star to his first four-star at Houghton last year. In an interview with Horse & Hound, Thomas admitted that there was some pressure associated with taking on such a well-known horse – people would come over to hug him in the collecting ring. Um, not guilty?
Mr Davidson has certainly done well with Goresbridge grads, and five-star mount Copper Beach is yet another of them to grace his string. The attractive chestnut, who won the Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L in 2016 and the Plantation Field CCI4*-S in 2017, has kept up his globe-trotting after his initial trip home to the States – he’s completed Pau, Tattersalls, and Boekelo, as well as making repeat visits to Kentucky, where he was tenth in 2018. Tall, ginger, and worldly – could he be the perfect Irish man?
Ready to head to the Emerald Isle – or bid from afar – and find your future partner? Whet your appetite by looking through the course catalogue and its accompanying videos, and register as a buyer today.