The demand for potential dressage horses showed no signs of waning, with the majority selling well at Brightwells’ recent sale of European dressage horses.

Fifteen horses fetched five-figure sums and from the first lot they were flying out of the ring to new homes.

There was an average of more than £20,000, the highest mean price since the first sale nine years ago. The figure — £5,000 more than last year — is almost twice that paid in 2003.

Lot one, Shining Star, a three-year-old Westphalian mare by the Sandro Hit son Show Star, got arms in the air. The bidding reached £35,000 before she went to Ardenfield Equestrian in Henley in Arden. Although a potential competition horse, Shining Star will also join a future embryo transfer programme.

Prospective buyers were well into the swing by the time the German-bred Dream Of Reality entered the ring. This compact, athletic chestnut gelding — already a champion in Germany — by the Davignon son Di Versace went for £60,000.

New owner Elissa Barrett, a recent university graduate and a pupil of Carl Hester, admitted to being terrified and thrilled at the same time. “There really was only this one and I rode him during a 2min trial,” said Elissa, who took Dream Of Reality home to Nether Wylde in Hertfordshire.

The top lot was the three-year-old Dutch-bred stallion Van Damme, who made £65,000 and went to Derbyshire to be trained as a grand prix prospect. This good-looking stallion is by the popular Trakehner sire Gribaldi out of a Havidoff mare.

“It was him or nothing,” said Van Damme’s new owner, who prefers to remain anonymous. “This was a fantastic opportunity to buy a horse of a lifetime. I was glad I didn’t have to go abroad to find him.”

Andrew Gould has a new horse to produce courtesy of Surrey-based Lucy Smith, a buyer here on two previous occasions, who procured the four-year-old Typhoon. This gelding by the Ferro son Kennedy was knocked down for £32,000.

Mares, too, found favour, with a lovely four-year-old Westphalian by Laurentianer, Lasting Impression, living up to her name to reach £46,000.

“Ten years ago, people said we’d never get this venture off the ground,” said auctioneer Richard Botterill. “We had a stonking sale, and providing more quality proved the right move.”

  • This report was first published in Horse & Hound (8 December, ’05)

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