The equestrian world is one of the most competitive and lucrative in all of sports. From horseback riding, rodeo, show jumping and dressage, horses can make a lot of people a lot of money. Beyond sport, breeding horses is also a potentially highly lucrative business venture as well. While there is some debate about the nature of animals in sport, and no shortage of allegations regarding mistreatment and abuse of horses that have raised some debate and controversy in equestrianism, for the most part the sport and culture is still seen as a highly civilized one. Indeed, when billionaires and members of royalty are involved and have a vested interest in the sport of horses, it surely gives off the impression of being important, no? In all reality, when looking at the prices of the ten most expensive horses ever sold, one cannot help but think equestrianism may be the most luxurious sport in the world. These ten horses all sold for ridiculously high prices; some were successful and lived up to their price tag, while most did not. Here are the ten most expensive horses ever sold.
10 Plavius: $9.2 million
Bought in 2006 by Godolphin Racing, and owned by the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, the horse Plavius has never lived up to the expectations that came with his hefty price tag. The now nine-year-old Gelding has a career record of 18 Starts, 2 Wins, 3 Places, 2 Shows and has earned a grand total of $41,572. He finished 13th in his last outing.
9 Jalil: $9.7 million
An American thoroughbred, Jalil was born in Kentucky in 2004 and sold in 2006 again to Godolphin Racing. A better investment (if not still a disappointing one) than the purchase of Plavius that same year, Jalil made his highly touted racing debut at two years old, finishing a disappointing sixth place. The horse did have some win in him though; before retiring from racing in 2008, Jalil managed to win the Maktoum Challenge Stakes, and ended his career with earnings totalling $327,324.
8 Snaafi Dancer: $10.2 million
At one time the most expensive horse ever sold, Snaafi Dancer fetched an enormous amount at auction when Aston Upthorpe Stud, a breeding company owned by the Emir of Dubai, paid $10.2 million for him. The thought was that due to his lineage as a descendant of Northern Dancer, the most prolific stud horse of all time, Snaafi Dancer would be an exceptional race horse, and in retirement, breeding horse. Sadly, far more so for the horse than those who paid for him, Snaafi Dancer never raced; he was considered far too slow to even bother. Adding insult to injury, when he retired it was discovered he had fertility problems, making him next to useless for breeding as well.
7 Meydan City: $11.7 million
Yet another prize of the Emir of Dubai, Meydan City was sold at auction in 2006 for a whopping $11.7 million. Unfortunately, Meydan City continues the trend as another highly expensive purchase and another disappointing one for horse racing aficionados. Meydan City is another bust thus far, having yet to win a race in his first seven attempts. All told, Meydan City has earned a grand total of $1,360 in his career.
6 Seattle Dancer: $13.1 million
The late Seattle Dancer was an Irish Stallion that at one point held the world record for most expensive yearling (a horse between one and two years old) ever sold at auction. With his lineage coming from the 1971 British Triple Crown-winning horse Nijinsky, big things were expected from Seattle Dancer. The horse ultimately had a modest racing career, winning two races; it was as a breeding horse that Seattle Dancer was more profitable. After retiring from racing in 1988 Seattle Dancer went on to father 37 different stakes-winning horses. Earning a total of $181,808 in his lifetime, Seattle Dancer died of a heart attack in 2007.
5 Palloubet d’Halong: $15 million
The most expensive show jumping horse ever sold, Palloubet d’Halong, long considered one of the best show jumping talents in the world, due in large part to former rider Janika Spunger, was sold at age ten to Dutch Olympic Gold Medallist Jan Tops for a record-breaking $15 million. Tops is the coach of the Qatar jump showing team, and Palloubet d’Halong, who many thought was initially bought for his wife Edwina Tops-Alexander, was in fact bought to compete for Qatar.
4 The Green Monkey: $16 million
Currently the horse who holds the record for most expensive thoroughbred colt ever sold at auction, The Green Monkey is another descendant of the legendary Northern Dancer. With such lineage, big things were expected of the horse, but as a racer The Green Monkey was an abysmal failure, only competing in three races before being retired, and finishing no better than third in a race he was a favourite to win. His career earnings are a meagre $10,440. Since retiring, the horse has lived in Florida as a stud, with a fee of $5,000. The horse remains one of the largest and most expensive busts in horse racing history.
3 Totilas: $21 million
The most expensive Dressage horse ever sold, Totilas lives up to the hefty price tag. Totilas is considered to be the most outstanding Dressage horse in the world. The Dutch horse has broken countless records for points recorded during competition, formerly held the Grand Prix Freestyle Dressage world record for highest score, and is the only Dressage horse to score above 90 in a competition. At one time Totilas and rider Edward Gal were considered “rock stars in the horse world.” Once the horse was sold to German ownership in 2011 for the price of $21 million, the level of success and positive press surrounding Totilas has sadly changed. The horse has not performed up to standard, has been injured and, most alarmingly, allegations of animal abuse and cruelty have been lobbied at Totilas’ German owners and trainers.
2 Shareef Dancer: $40 million
As a racehorse, Shareef Dancer performed modestly well, starting five races, posting a 3-1-0 record while earning $246,463. It was following his racing career that Shareef Dancer was bought by the Emir of Dubai for $40 million in 1983. Sired by Northern Dancer, Shareef Dancer was expected to be a prime stud horse. Shareef Dancer had a very successful and profitable career as a sire, breeding horses whose combined winnings exceed over $2 million, as well as being the damsire of winning horse Dubai Millennium.
1 Fusaichi Pegasus: $70 million
The most expensive horse ever sold, Fusaichi Pegasus was a considerable racehorse. He won the Kentucky Derby in 2000 and finished his racing career with nine starts, six wins and two losses. More impressively, Fusaichi Pegasus won $1,994,400 during his career. After being retired from racing, Fusaichi Pegasus became the most sought after horse for breeding since Shareef Dancer. He also became the most expensive in 2000 when Irish breeder Coolmore Stud, the world’s largest thoroughbred breeding operation, bought him for an estimated $70 million. Initially his stud fee was set at $150,000. After a disappointing career as a breeding horse, Fusaichi Pegasus now resides in Kentucky with a stud fee of $7,000, making him the most expensive (and least worth the price) horse ever sold.