'A Very Special Place' – Gowran Park Breeze-Up Sale To Return In 2025

Ed Donohoe | Aoife Kavanagh

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The Gowran Park Breeze-Up Sale is set to make its return in 2025 with powerhouse consignors Willie Browne, Con Marnane and Roger O'Callaghan pledging to support what was formerly known as the Goresbridge Breeze-Up Sale. 

The Goresbridge Breeze-Up Sale was relocated to Fairyhouse and run by Tattersalls Ireland back in 2019. However, this year marks the first time that Tattersalls Ireland will run the sale away from the banner of Goresbridge. 

After a four-year hiatus, Goresbridge Horse Sales returned to the point-to-point and horses-in-training market last month under the leadership of Ed Donohoe, who says the decision to re-enter the breeze-up market for the first time since 2018 follows extensive discussions with handlers.

Donohoe explained, “We've had a lot of positive feedback from vendors about this and, following on from the hugely successful point-to-point sale staged here last month, we felt there was a space to re-enter the breeze-up market.”

He added, “From speaking with vendors, they struggled to get a lot of horses into the breeze-up sales this year. Not only that, but we all know that costs have gone up substantially in recent years. 

“Wouldn't it be great for vendors to have a viable outlet here in Ireland rather than having to travel to England with their middle market horses? We'll be limiting our sale from 100 to 120 lots and we are confident that there's an appetite for the sale. We're really looking forward to it.”

Falling clearance rates has been one of the main talking points from the breeze-up sales that have already taken place in Britain this year. Donohoe says that he hopes Goresbridge can attract a broader cohort of buyers who don't have to deal with the red tape that comes with Brexit when exporting a horse from Britain. 

BBA Ireland's Mick Donohoe is better versed on the market than most, and while he admits a certain bias, says that he is convinced that the breeze-up sale at Gowran Park could thrive once again.

He explained, “There is definitely a market for another breeze-up sale in Ireland and, speaking as an agent, a lot of good horses have come out of the Gowran Breeze-Up Sale. A lot of my clients like to buy in Ireland and, the beauty about this sale going back down through the years was that there was something for everybody with every kind of a budget. Ninety per cent of the breeze-up horses in a given year are produced in Ireland so it makes sense to hold another breeze-up sale here and to go closer to the source.”

He added, “I bought a number of horses from the middle market at the breeze-up sales this year. Three of those were for Irish clients. By the time they got them back home and paid the VAT and then the transport, it added quite a lot onto the hammer price. The same can be said for the consignors. We all know that the vendors are feeling the costs involved now more so than ever before so staging another breeze-up sale in Ireland is a no-brainer for everybody concerned.”

Marnane agrees that there is space for another breeze-up sale in Ireland but admitted that he would have preferred Donohoe and his team to be bold by going earlier in the calendar than the middle of May next year.

The Bansha House boss explained, “Goresbridge is a very special place and I will be delighted to see business returning there next year. They have been very good to us down through the years. The one thing I would say is that, in an ideal world, the dates would be earlier. There's definitely a market for an earlier breeze-up sale in Ireland.”

He added, “But there's no question that some of the breeze-up sales in England have been hurting in recent weeks because of Brexit. You'd be hoping that Goresbridge could attract plenty of buyers at the middle market and that the sale can be a success.”

The news that Goresbridge Horse Sales is set to re-enter the breeze-up market comes just a few weeks after Goffs announced that it would be staging a new breeze-up sale at Naas racecourse in 2025.

Browne, renowned as the breeze-up king, describes Goresbridge as “a charming location” but concedes that there is only a finite number of horses that can be sold at the breeze-ups every year.

He said, “It was a special sale because it took place at the end of the year when the heavy pressure was off. Everybody loved going there because it is a charming location. We miss that sale and will be happy to see it returning.”

Asked if he felt Brexit was the driving force behind the shakiness to the middle market in Britain in recent weeks and whether he expected to see stronger trade at Arqana and Tattersalls Ireland in the coming weeks, Browne replied, “That might be a factor but that question probably can't be answered properly until the breeze-up at Tattersalls Ireland is over. We have been missing the volumes of Italians and Scandinavians at the breeze-up sales in Britain in the past few weeks.

“It will be interesting to see if Brexit affects where people from those countries buy their horses. That won't be proven until Tattersalls Ireland. Wouldn't it be great for everyone in Ireland if that was the case? We'll definitely support Goresbridge next year. There was always something lovely about the place-a bit of a holiday atmosphere. It was a great sale, for sure, and we all benefited from it with some good prices there down through the years.”

Like Marnane and Browne, O'Callaghan has sold many high-class horses from his family-run Tally-Ho Stud at the sales house, and expects to be represented back at the County Kilkenny venue next year. 

He said, “We've nothing but great memories of the breeze-up sale at Goresbridge and, truth be told, never wanted it to go in the first place. It was an amazing place and we've sold a lot of very good horses down through the years there. We'll be supporting it next year and hope to continue selling good horses there.”

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