Saturday 8th of May 2021

Goresbridge Sale Sets ‘Go For Gold’ Standard

When it comes to finding horses that can excel at the highest levels, there’s no hard-and-fast equation for success, writes Tilly Berendt.


Good breeding, great conformation, a correct and sympathetic early education and that certain je ne sais quois that gives the best of the best the extra something they need to succeed aren’t easily put together, and you can spend many months – and far more money than you’d like to think about – following up on individual adverts for horses that end up totally unsuitable.

It’s expensive, it’s frustrating, and it can put you off the whole endeavour. Looking for something to compete at the grassroots level? You’re not immune to the same pitfalls, and for every horse-shopping success, there is a myriad of horror-stories floating around from frustrated buyers. 

Luckily, there’s a way to expedite the buying process, view a selection of hand-picked, quality horses, and enjoy the very best industry socialising and networking. Peace of mind, scores of top-notch horses, and a healthy dose of Irish craic, all in one place – it can only be Goresbridge.

Superior Horses, Realistic Price Tags

The Goresbridge ‘Go For Gold’ sale may be young – this year’s edition will be the eighth iteration of the auction – but its track record for spotting the next generation of equine elite is unrivalled. With some 400 applications and approximately 80 slots to fill, the selection process is rigorous and leaves no stone unturned in the hunt for the best. 

Photo by Laurence Dunne

The experienced selection committee is made up of Chris Ryan, Clare Ryan, Sally Parkyn, and guest selectors Nicky Roncoroni and Bridget Speirs, all of whom have considerable experience buying, producing, and selling talented event horses. Chris has sourced some of the United States’ biggest successes, including Gina Miles’ Olympic silver medallist McKinlaigh and Phyllis Dawson’s Enniskerry Imp.

Claire can take credit for William Fox-Pitt’s Kentucky winner Bay My Hero, Aoife Clark’s Olympic mount Master Crusoe, and Buck Davidson stalwart campaigner My Boy Bobby. Sally’s graduates include Arctic Soul, third at Badminton this year with Gemma Tattersall, Sharon Hunt’s Luhmuhlen winner Tankers Town, Jennie Brannigan’s incredibly consistent Cambalda and Watts Burn, who has represented Great Britain with Nicky Roncoroni

Together, they assess the horses at work – under saddle and over both cross-country fences and showjumps where suitable, or loose-schooled for youngstock. The horses selected for the sale then undergo a five-stage vetting, including x-rays, 48 hours prior to the sale, giving buyers peace of mind that the horse they take home is not just capable, but fit for purpose, too. 

Crucially, the sale doesn’t cater just to the high-end buyer, in the market for top-level potential at a similarly top-level price tag. 

“It’s for everybody, in every aspect of eventing, not just the professionals,” says Martin Donohoe, who runs the sale. “There are horses to suit everybody – from the four-star riders right down to amateurs who want to go eventing.”

And to suit all price points, too – whether you’re buying on a budget or looking to spend more on a future world beater, you’ll be ably catered for. 

A Legacy of Quality

The Go For Gold sale may be young, but the Goresbridge enterprise is founded on many decades of experience and passion, passed along through the Donohoe family. Martin’s late father, Edward Donohoe, established his sport horse auctions in the 1960s, and both Martin’s mother and Martin himself stepped in to continue Edward’s legacy of sourcing top quality, raw Irish talent, and providing it to the international industry. 

The Go For Gold sale came to fruition as a result of a gap in the market for a highly-specialised sale that offered lower risk, higher reward purchasing experiences for customers. The sourcing, trialling, and vetting is carried out by the team, and all the potential buyer has to do is show up and enjoy. 

Gold Star Graduates

The success of a sale is proven by the stars it has helped to source – and in this, Go For Gold certainly delivers. Notable horses bought through the sale include Cooley SRS –  ridden by Oliver Townend at this year’s European Championships –  Cooley Rorkes Drift, the ‘People’s Horse’, who finished ninth at the Rio Olympics and was in the top 20 at Badminton this year with Jonty Evans, Copper Beach, who, with rider Buck Davidson, has won a CCI3* and two CIC3* in the last eighteen months, and Prince Mayo, winner of the Tattersalls CCI3* with Paul Tapner

This year, says Martin, “it’s really hard to pick a standout – they’re all brilliant horses!” One that he mentions is Lot 2, Match My Class, who is sold by the producers of Burghley winner Ballaghmor Class. With several top-ten finishes at national 1* level this year, the six-year-old has “a good bit of form” and will be an exciting prospect for the future.

More Than Just a Horse Sale

The Go For Gold sale takes place over three days, with horses shown under saddle and loose-schooled over the first two days, giving buyers the chance to see the lots work more than once and speak to the veterinary panel, too. But that’s not all there is to do: the sale is partnered with Amber Springs Hotel and Spa, giving you the chance to schedule a bit of R&R into your buying trip. There’s also a gala dinner, attended by some of the leading names in the industry, so you can network, socialise, and rub shoulders with the stars. 

And what do some of those stars say about the sale? Well…

“The best of fun – a chance to really study young Irish horses – fascinating.” Lucinda Green

“The fact you can see all the horses jump and go across country over fantastic facilities was excellent. This coupled with being able to try them means I shall be back – its also a much more enjoyable way to view 60 horses!” Sharon Hunt, Olympic bronze medallist

“A professionally run and marketed sale – and one that we are proud to support.” Richard Sheane, Cooley Horses International

“I have bought three horses at the Go For Gold sale for owners and have been delighted with all of them. It saved me searching the country, as I knew that the expert panel would identify top quality stock. The sale has superb trial facilities and is professionally run – I would highly recommend it.” Joseph Murphy

“The Goresbridge Go For Gold sale in November has become a firm date in my diary. I have sourced a top class horse from the sale, which I consider to be very professionally run and always a great night out.” Oliver Townend

“All the horses I have ridden or come across have been good horses, without a shadow of a doubt. The really good horses make a premium, but there are definitely deals to be had. I have a great deal of faith in the veterinary panel. You can have sensible chats with the vets and can email the vettings and the X-rays to your own vet for their verdict. I also have a lot of faith in the team – especially Sally Parkyn and Martin Donohoe. They are leaders in their field.” Jonty Evans

“There was a wonderful selection of horses at the auction, and I bought a phenomenal horse at a fantastic price. I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was great to see so many quality horses all in one place – and to end up buying one at such good value was a huge bonus.” Boyd Martin

The Goresbridge Go For Gold sale will take place on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of November in Co. Wexford, Ireland. To view the catalogue and lot videos, and to get information on discounted accommodation at the Amber Springs Hotel, visit:

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