With your best Grand National bet we bet you wouldn’t be able to believe some of the prices on this list!
Before we go through the list of the most expensive horses of all time it’s probably right that we start by talking about where most of the horses on this list came from; Northern Dancer.
Born in 1961, Northern Dancer was a Canadian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse that won the Kentucky Derby in 1964 and the 1964 Preakness stakes. Inducted into the Canadian hall of fame in 1965 it had a great racing career but it’s been in its siring where Northern Dancer has become better known.
Northern Dancer was retired for stud in 1965 at an initial fee of $10,000 at Windshields Farm in Oshawa, Ontario. The first crop reached racing age in 1968 and “came out running”. Winners aplenty, Northern Dancer was then moved to Maryland to continue his stud. The leading sire in North America in 1971 and 1977 and the leading sire in the UK in 1970, 1978, 1983 and 1984.
By the time his success was quantified his prices had gone up, reaching their peak when auctioned privately for well over $1 million. He was so prolific as a sire that a small percentage of inbreeding in today’s thoroughbreds is attributed to him. $40 million was offered to prize him away from his owners when he was 20 years old which showed how highly he was thought of.
With the majority of horses on the list of the most expensive of all time coming from Northern Dancer it goes to show how great that diminutive thoroughbred really was thought of. Unfortunately most of the horses that sold for massive money didn’t fare too well:
- $9,200,000 ($9.2 million) – Plavius
Plavius was purchased by Godolphin Racing in 2006 and owned by the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates. To say it never lived up to expectations would be an understatement with a racing record of 18 starts, 2 wins, 3 places and 2 shows earning a measly career grand total of $41,572. In its last outing it finished a disappointing 13th.
- $9,700,000 ($9.7 million) – Jalil
Not quite as disappointing as Plavius, Jalil was born in Kentucky in 2004 and sold as to Godolphin Racing in the same year as Plavius, 2006. He made his debut as a two year old finishing in sixth place. He did go on to win the Maktoum Challenge Stakes in 2008 and ended his career with winnings totalling $327,324.
- $10,200,000 ($10.2 million) – Snaafi Dancer
Perhaps the biggest failure of them all was the yearling Snaafi Dancer when purchased at auction by Sheikh Mohammed’s Aston Upthorpe Stud for a staggering 1983 record of $10.2 million. Upon timing the horse in training it was discovered that not only were his times bad, they were so bad that it was considered to be embarrassing for it to ever be raced so it was retired to stud.
It was then discovered that on the top of being a really slow horse, Snaafi Dancer had fertility problems and only sired 4 horses. None of the sired horses were any good and when it was last checked SD was living in a field in Florida.
- $11,700,000 ($17.7 million) – Meydan City
Another flop on the long list of expensive flops is Meydan City. It was purchased in 2006 for a massive $11.7 million and has won just 2 races of the 10 is has entered, registering a paltry winning pot of just $24,104.
- $13,100,000 ($13.1 million) – Seattle Dancer
Seattle Dancer fared slightly better than the previous horses on this list but still didn’t come anywhere close to justifying its humungous price tag. Bought in 1985 by Stavros Niarchos and his associates the horse was intended to be raced as soon as possible. Unfortunately a virus kept SD out of action for much of the 2 year old season. When it did race it was a bit of a disappointment only recouping £111,303. At stud it sired 37 stakes winners so not terrible but not a justification by any means.
- $15,000,000 ($15 million) – Palloubet d’Halong
The first horse on the list that wasn’t involved in racing, Palloubet d’Halong was a glorious show jumper. So glorious in fact it was purchased for the sum of $15 million by Dutch Olympic Gold Medalist Jan Tops to go show jumping in Qatar for the remainder of its career.
- $16,000,000 ($16 million) – The Green Monkey
The Green Monkey is the horse who holds the current record for the most expensive thoroughbred colt ever sold at auction. Another bust, in racing it put in some abysmal performances, making just $10,000, before being shipped out to live on a farm somewhere in Florida.
- $21,000,000 ($21 million) – Totilas
Totilas was a horse well trained in the equine art of dressage, breaking world records and beating pretty much every highest score there was to beat. This was until it was sold for $21million to a German buyer. Since the sale Totilas has been injured and struggled in competition.
- $40,000,000 ($40 million) – Shareef Dancer
A huge jump up in finances to the #2, costing a staggering $40million, Shareef Dancer was the horse that the Emir of Dubai pinned his hopes on and for once on this long list of losers the horse only slightly disappointed. Its racing record was a modest 3 wins from 5 starts but this horse wasn’t really purchased for racing, it was the breeding that was wanted. He sired horses that produced winnings in the millions, not quite up to his price tag though.
- $70,000,000 ($70 million) – Fusaichi Pegasus
The most expensive horse of all time was Fusaichi Pegasus when it was purchased in 2000 by Coolmore Stud. A winner of the Kentucky Derby much was expected of FP as a breeding horse. His stud career was terrible though, fetching a stud fee at last advertising of $7,000 proves there was no confidence there whatsoever. This made it the most expensive and least worth the price horse ever sold in history.