5 of the most expensive horses ever sold

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 in the Guinness Book Of 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

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Selling for a cool $70 million (£53.7 million) to Coolmore Stud, 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 hugely successful racing career, racking up earnings of $1,994,400 and winning the Kentucky Derby in 2000. However, he’s not such hot stuff as a stud, and his stud fee dropped from $150,000 to a mere $7,500 in 2017, and he was retired from stud this year. Still, as his original owners purchased him as a yearling for ‘just’ $4 million, he’s made a few people very happy!

3. Most expensive dressage horse

Totilas out of European Dressage Championships

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.

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4. Most expensive showjumper

"Janika SPRUNGER riding Palloubet d'Halong (CH), Uptown Boy (CH) SUI"in the Individual Final of the FEI European Championship in Herning, Denmark in August 2013

Jan Tops, trainer for the Qatari showjumping team, paid a record price for a showjumper when he bought 10-year old Selle Francais gelding Palloubet d’Halong from Swiss rider Janika Sprunger in 2013. The talented horse came second in the Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen in 2013, and changed hands for $15.2 million (£11.5 million). Having been made an offer she couldn’t refuse, Sprunger said sadly: “I have many good horses, younger horses also, who I have big belief in and big hopes for, but there is no chance that I will ever get a second Palloubet.”

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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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