The prices paid for the young horses at the Brightwells auction of show jumpers at Addington Manor eclipsed previous sales and, for the first time, the quantity and quality ensured that show jumping buyers outdid their dressage counterparts in the spending stakes.

The 35 horses sold realised a total of £456,800 — almost double last year’s figure — with a mean price of £13,051. And while the total and average prices were increased, the top price record was well and truly smashed when the £33,000 paid for Safarie at the first sale at Towerlands five years ago was almost doubled.

This year’s top lot, Zest For Life, again sourced from Safarie’s Dutch vendor, Willem van der Donk, got pulses racing. The bidding started at a sharp pace for the lovely grey colt by Dutch World Equestrian Games team gold medallist Berlin.

The two-year-old grandson of Cassini was finally knocked down, with a round of applause, for £61,000 to Harvey Kay. This was a record price for a show jumper at a British sale.

“This is the best selection of horses I’ve seen here,” said the Preston-based trainer, a long-standing customer of Brightwells who was one of several buyers who made multiple purchases.

Not only was it a good night for buyers, sellers and auctioneers, but those who came purely for entertainment went home having watched good horses, professionally presented, make realistic prices.

“It was unbelievable,” said auctioneer Richard Botterill. “Two things in particular made it work; separating it from the dressage sale and making a lot of effort to find some very good horses. This is the only sale that takes in horses from all sources and our aim is to make it the best in the world.”

Read this report in full, with pictures and details of the top lots, in today’s Horse & Hound (7 Dece,ber, ’06)