Top lot fetches €29,000 at first online Monart Sale as buyers include Michael Jung and British medallists

  • The first online iteration of The Monart Sale exceeded all expectations with a 78% clearance rate and an average price of €13,000, up by about €2,000 on previous sales.

    “If this had been a completely normal year doing a completely normal sale, this still would have exceeded expectations – it’s been our best sale to date,” said organiser Niall Griffin. “There was plenty of action and people were very keen so it was phenomenal. It’s unbelievable to be honest.”

    The top lot – a three-year-old called Kilbunny Blue Bird – was sold by Richie O’Hara and knocked down for €29,000 to UK-based business Awarded2U Ltd. He was lot 58 and is by Kilbunny Blue, out of a thoroughbred mare by Bob’s Return, whose other offspring include Jonelle Price’s current three-star ride Killbunny Andy.

    Seven horses made over €20,000 at this Monart Sale, including two who went to US-based Canadian vet and amateur event rider Katie Malensek. One of these fetched the second highest price, when she gave €26,000 for lot 101, a three-year-old grey gelding called Mei-Fleure, by Chapeau TN. Her other purchase was also a grey, three-year-old MRF Qwlkstep, by Metropole, for whom Katie paid €20,500.

    With Covid-19 ruling out the usual in-person sale at the luxurious Monart hotel and spa, the lots were presented via video to prospective buyers, who then bid over a couple of days via an online platform. Buyers included double Olympic champion Michael Jung, fellow German rider Kai-Steffen Meier, Dutch world bronze medallist Elaine Pen, Ireland-based British five-star rider Nicky Roncoroni and British young rider team gold medallist Charlotte Agnew.

    Husbands of two top British riders also appear on the results, with Kitty King’s husband Ben signing for Monbeg Zebedee, a three-year-old by Dignified Van’T Zorgvliet, at €13,000 and Nicola Wilson’s husband Alistair landing Gortglas Lupin, a three-year-old bay gelding by Luidam out of a Master Imp mare, at €15,000.

    Online Monart Sale attracts new buyers and regulars

    “As usual, we’ve been fantastically supported by riders – it’s great to see your regulars who support you every year coming out and obviously to get a whole new customer base which we can only put down to being online,” said Niall, crediting the reputation the Monart Sale has built up over the past 11 years, the selection panel of his wife Polly Jackson and Australian rider Bill Levett and Marcus Swail, who heads up the sale’s veterinary panel.

    “It’s all built on the fact people have come and experienced the sale so they trust it. It’s the first time [an online sport horse sale] has really been done here in Ireland as far as I’m aware. To say vendors were nervous is an understatement, but to their eternal credit they stuck with it, which was a huge thing for me. There was a lot of pressure on our vendors from outside sources predicting that it wouldn’t work. One of the happiest things for me was to watch [the bidding on horses belonging to] those I knew were getting pressure on the outside – they were rewarded for their loyalty.”

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    Polly added: “The horses are a credit to their breeders and handlers and they deserve those prices – we are lagging behind in comparison to dressage, showjumping and racing, so it’s great that breeders and handlers who put that time in do get that reward.”

    Bill paid tribute to Niall for going ahead with the sale in a new format, saying: “It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that this was going to go well and he stepped up to the plate – he needs a lot of credit as not everyone would take that on, a lot of people would shy away. He needs a good deal of praise for that.”

    Niall concluded: “It’s a big relief for all of us to be over the line with it and we’re obviously thrilled it worked and with pretty much every aspect of how it’s gone. We always said we were planing for this, but most plans fail on contact with the enemy but luckily this one survived. Hopefully everyone’s happy, these horses go on and produce results and we’re back here next year previewing a different type of sale. I’m not sure our friend Covid’s done with us yet, to be honest, so I think we’ve just got to be ready for whatever next year brings us.”

    Have you bought a star at an auction? Share your experience by writing to us at hhletters@futurenet.com – the writer of the letter of the week receives a bottle of Champagne Taittinger. 

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find out more about getting the magazine delivered to your door every week. 

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