THE second highest price in the 32-year history of the Connemara Pony Sales was achieved last weekend in Clifden when a four-year-old gelding was sold in the ring for €17,200.

In a sales trend which sees the prices of Connemara ponies continue to increase with each sale, which is also widely reflected in the private market, an incredible 15 lots were sold for five figures last weekend over three days at the Clifden Mart.

While a clearance rate of 63% is significantly less than the same sale last year (80%), the overseas market for ponies continues to thrive, with 106 ponies finding new homes outside of Ireland. Some 59 were sold to Britain which continues to be the biggest market.

Ann de Courcey of Connemara Pony Sales commented: “It was our first ever three-day sale in May, the sheer volume of ponies entered meant it was extended. We are very pleased with the returns, there was huge demand. As usual, the UK market was very buoyant, the Germans are getting stronger and one Belgian buyer bought 20 horses.

“The general feeling is that the quality and standard of riding ponies on Friday and Saturday was the best we ever had. People are putting more effort into presenting and producing the ponies, and presenting them with a vet cert and X-rays makes a huge difference.

“Overall sales percentage was down, I suppose that is down to sellers having big expectations too. We are very pleased with the sale overall.”

One of those heading for our nearest neighbouring country is Lot 228, Blackstown Prince Charming, who went through the ring on Saturday morning making an astounding €17,200 for vendor Karen Nicholson from Athlone, who produced two horses for the sale and just minutes earlier received €10,600 for another four-year-old Blackstown Something Special.

The sale-topper, a 158cm grey gelding is by Lorcan Glynn’s stallion Knightebridge Prince out of the Maam Hill mare Coolarne Mist, was knocked down to Clifden regular Patrick O’Gorman who, with his partner Hannah Taylor, signed for 14 lots in total over the three days.

Commenting on the sale-topper, O’Gorman said: “He is lovely looking, he has good presence and he was produced very well. He is the kind of pony we look for everyday and they are getting harder and harder to find, especially ones that so genuine. I didn’t expect him to run into that kind of money but when you are in you are in.

“The reason I bought him, he is 15.2hh and I like that type. He is so commercial to trade. He was well marketed online and that makes it easier when you are selling them afterwards.

“We will X-ray him now first, he could possible go to America, Europe or the UK but I am not in any rush with him. He will go to England first, we have someone working us that will ride him there.”

O’Gorman and Taylor, are based between Tipperary and England where they trade in ponies, as well as cobs and Irish Sport Horses. Commenting on the market for Connemaras, O’Gorman added: “They are very expensive, they are more expensive in Clifden that at any other sale, I suppose the clientele for Connemaras are probably more looking there more than any other sale. They are easy ponies to sell, people tend to be mad about them, they are a much-loved bred.”

Karen Nicholson's with her home-breds, Lot 228, Blackstown Prince Charming who made €17,200 and Lot 227, Blackstown Something Special who made €10,600 \ Rynes Walker

Top return

It was an excellent return for Karen Nicholson whose father, Patrick, bred the gelding. “We bred him, I bought him off Dad as a three-year-old. I always knew he would be big but I didn’t think he would grow as big as he did. I started breaking him last November, he has always been really simple from day one.

“It was always the plan to bring him to Clifden. Two weeks’ ago I changed my mind and thought I might keep him for the summer, but I was afraid the prices would drop so I said I would go and I’m glad I did. There was always a lot of interest in him, I had a lot of people contact me before the sale wanting to come and try him. On the day I was hoping to get €12,500, so I was near sick in the sellers’ box!”

On Blackstown Something Special, who was sold to German buyer Hannah Neupärtl for €10,600, Karen added: “He is a great little pony, I think he will be the better jumper of the two; he is really athletic, so naturally balanced and he has a great brain. He wasn’t broken until this year but is a pleasure to work with.” The seller is based at Kieran Egan’s yard where she does horses as a side job.

Iarla Hayden's Lot 224 Lisrua Storm was the highest priced three-year-old when sold for €9,000 at the Connemara Pony Sales on Saturday \ Rynes Walker

Among the other lots purchased by O’Gorman was the third top priced pony of the weekend, Lot 190, Ballinroash Lad, a five-year-old dun gelding by Maghera Fadda Lad who was sold by John Cafferty for €13,000.

He also had the final say on the five-year-old Finga Buddy (Lot 399) at €11,600; the five-year-old 15.2hh gelding by Murvey Chelton was consigned to the sale by Ciaran Fitzsimons, and he paid €10,500 for Emma Flynn’s four-year-old Moonlight Silver Shadow-sired gelding Ballymahon Lighting Amber (Lot 57).

A regular sale-topping buyer at the venue, Ballinasloe’s Kieran Egan gave the second highest price of €14,500 for TJ Carey’s Kilrush Gloves Off (Lot 110) who is by Gloves Bobby.

Neupärtl made the trip to Clifden a good one, buying seven lots in total, including the four-year-old gelding An Baile Caol Ogfhear for €13,000. Sold by Katie Murdock, the 15.2hh grey is by Tillyochie Uillinoir.

The highest priced mare, Mullaghmore Freya (Lot 147) went through the ring on Friday and was knocked down to Niall Daly for €12,200. The six-year-old dun mare is by Carris Galen Miller and was sold by Johnny Greene.

Bohola Rambler made the shared highest priced yearling when sold for €3,500 on Sunday \ Rynes Walker