After last year’s record-breaking Brightwells dressage sale, another as good might have been too much to ask. Nonetheless, this year’s sale of potential dressage horses at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre found plenty of enthusiastic buyers.

While the average price was £2,500 down on last year, it was still the second highest average over the 10 years of sales. Of the 18 horses sold, 75% made five-figure sums and buyers had to pay more than £30,000 to secure one of the top six.

Two weeks previously, Anky van Grunsven’s grand prix stallion Painted Black captured the interest of the audience at the British Dressage convention here. At this sale, it was his three-year-old daughter Wocata who attracted attention. The elegant, eye-catching mare was finally knocked down to Nicola Mahoney of Easton Park Stud in Suffolk for £40,000 — this year’s top price.

“This is the one who will win the challenge next year,” declared Nicola, who will be sending the mare to the yard of her trainer Michel Assouline.

After the first lot of the day went for the bargain-basement price of £3,000, brisk bidding ensured that the next made 11 times as much. The four-year-old Viquino, a Dutch-bred gelding by Negro, was finally knocked down to Denise Stamp for her daughter, Louise.

“He’s a new project for Louise, as we sadly lost our other horse earlier in the year. She fell in love with this one and we decided to have him whatever,” said Denise.

Bedfordshire-based Beverley Dixon was equally determined to secure lot five, Forrest Fiddler, a Westphalian gelding by the popular sire Florestan.

“It was this one or nothing,” said Beverley, who got the coveted four-year-old for £30,000.

And £32,000 was the price for the Westphalian mare Royal Alliance, who went home with British young rider team member Anne-Marie Perry. Junior squad rider Katie Bailey, 19, also has a new project after being the successful bidder for Webster, a three-year-old by the Ferro son Rhodium.

Barrie and Heather Truelove’s supporters cheered when the gavel hit the desk to secure the Lincolnshire eventing couple their first dressage horse. A bid of £36,000 bought the four-year-old Vanita, a gelding by Jazz out of a Pion mare.

“When I rode him, it was a real wow factor,” said Barrie Truelove.
Brett Wilson’s bid of £11,000 secured him one of just two catalogue entries registered with a British studbook.Kent-based Brett is confident that Prototype, a three-year-old stallion by Sharon Baldwin’s international small tour winner Pro-Set, will be at the sharp end in next year’s challenge.

DHI Dressage Challenge

Two years ago she was an impulse buy at Brightwells’ November sale, but Soul Sister has since more than repaid her owner’s whim. The five-year-old Sandro Hit mare finished the season on a high, heading this year’s DHI Dressage Challenge. This is the most lucrative prize in British dressage, and was sponsored for the first time by Dressage Horse International. It is open only to horses purchased at Brightwells sales.

This was a timely wedding present for Soul Sister’s owners, Aram Gregory and rider and trainer Jane Bredin, who, rather less impulsively after almost 20 years together, are tying the knot in Hong Kong in two weeks’ time.

Well-placed in all young horse championships this year, Soul Sister was one of the favourites for the £5,000 first prize.

“That also meant there was quite a bit of pressure to do well,” said Jane. “You can’t mess about out there — those judges are deadly serious.”

International judges Peter Engel and Igor Kogan pulled no punches in their post-test analyses, but were full of praise for the winning pair, who took an unassailable lead after the freestyle.

“It was a great pleasure to judge this combination,” said Peter Engel.

Unusually, four-year-old horses headed off the older contenders to take the top placings. The Carl Hester-trained combination of Elissa Barratt and her active chestnut Dream Or Reality — one of the high-priced lots last year — were runners-up.

“He’s exceeded my expectations,” said Elissa. “I would buy him all over again. He’s the best horse I’ve ever had — he ticks all the boxes.”

Freelance instructor Emma Hawley, back in the saddle after two years off due to back surgery, was third with V-Max, an elegant gelding by the Trakehner sire Gribaldi out of a mare by the Thoroughbred Julio Mariner.

“I bought Max to get myself going again. He fitted the bill and has been a fabulous buy,” said Emma. H&H

Top lots of the sale
Lot 31 Wocata KWPN br m 2003 (Painted Black – Locato) £40,000
Lot 22 Vanita KWPN ch g 2002 (Jazz – Pion) £36,000
Lot 29 Webster KWPN br g 2003 (Rhodium – Chronos) £36,000
Lot 2 Viquino KWPN br g 2002 (Negro – Rohdiamant) £33,000
Lot 13 Royal Alliance West br m 2003 (Rubin-Royal – Pessoa) £32,000
Lot 5 Forrest Fiddler West ch g 2002 (Florestan I – Wachorst) £30,000
31 forward; 18 sold; Total £321,00; Average £17,833

  • This report was first published in Horse & Hound (23 November, ’06)