While having a good horse is certainly key to success in equestrian sport, buying the most expensive horse in the world does not automatically ensure you a path to the top, as some of the stories below bear out…
1. Most expensive draught horse
McIlrath’s Captain Jim is listed by Guinness World Records as the most expensive draught horse ever sold. The two-year old Belgian stallion went for $112, 500 (£69,400) at the Mid-America Draft Horse Sale, Gifford, Illinois, USA on 20 February 2003. His (comparatively) high price was due to his impeccable blood lines — but let’s face it, his price tag is pocket money in the racehorse world. Which brings us on to…
2. Most expensive racehorse
Selling for a cool $70 million (£53.7 million) to the racehorse breeding powerhouse Coolmore Ireland in 2000, Fusaichi Pegasus currently holds the title of the most expensive horse in history. Foaled on 12 April 1997 and trained by Neil Drysdale, this Thoroughbred stallion had a successful racing career, racking up earnings of $1,994,400 and winning the Kentucky Derby in 2000. However, his stud fee dropped from $150,000 to a mere $7,500 in 2017, and he was retired from stud duties at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky in 2020. Still, as his previous owners purchased him as a yearling for ‘just’ $4 million, he’s made a few people very happy!
3. Most expensive dressage horse
No prizes for guessing who receives this accolade! That’s right, the stunning black Dutch Warmblood stallion Totilas sold for an estimated whopping €11m to German trainer Paul Schokemohle. ‘Toto’ and his Dutch rider Edward Gal cleaned up at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, winning three gold medals, and were the first partnership to score over 90% at grand prix level. However, Toto never regained those dizzy heights under his new rider Matthias Rath, and his later career was dogged by injuries. He was retired to stud in 2015 and died as a result of colic in December 2020.
4. Most expensive showjumper
MHS Going Global, the 2016 Olympic ride of Irish showjumper Greg Broderick, joined the stable of Greek showjumper and heiress Athina Onassis in November 2016 for a record price in the region of €12million (£10.2million). By Quidam Junior I out of a Cavalier Royale mare, the then 10-year-old Irish sport horse was bred by Tom and Ita Brennan of Kilkenny’s Mill House Stud. The previous record paid for a showjumper was €11million, achieved by the then 10-year-old gelding Palloubet d’Halonghas when he was bought by Jan Topps in October 2013.
5. Most expensive failure
A descendent of the legendary Northern Dancer, great things were expected of The Green Monkey — as reflected by the $16 million (£12 million) the Thoroughbred colt fetched in auction. However, The Green Monkey only raced three times before he was retired, and his highest placing was third. He lived on a stud in Florida, servicing mares for $5,000 a shot before he sadly died, aged 14 in 2018 due to laminitis.
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