Generally, the most expensive horses in the world tend to be racehorses. If a horse is fast – really fast – it can potentially earn hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars in prize money.
However, not all of the most expensive horses are racehorses. Top performers in other disciplines such as dressage and show jumping can come with quite a price tag as well.
What factors determine how expensive a horse is? A combination of many factors affect a horse’s price such as breeding, performance, age, reputation, potential, location, and even the name of the person who is selling or brokering the horse.
Very often, a horse’s pedigree, especially the sire of a stallion, has the most effect on how much a horse will bring at an auction or private sale.
Here are the most expensive horses ever.
Jalil – $9.7 million
Jalil is an American Thoroughbred who was purchased in 2005 as a yearling for $9.7 million. He is the grandson of Northern Dancer, and sired by Storm Cat.
He wasn’t especially successful in racing and was retired to stand at stud in China in 2011. His descendants, for the most part, were not especially notable in performance.
Owner: Godolphin Stables
Snaafi Dancer – $10.2 million
This Thoroughbred Racehorse made history as the first yearling to sell for over $10 million. The actual purchase price was $10.2 million.
He never raced, however, despite his impressive pedigree as a son of Northern Dancer. He was rumored to be “embarrassingly slow” and retired to stud.
That didn’t go well, either, however, as he was discovered to be all but infertile, siring only four foals, three of them suffering very limited racing careers.
Born: February 25, 1982
Owner: Mohammed bin Rashid Al Marktoum
Meydan City – $11.7 million
A gorgeous bay Thoroughbred with a nice pedigree came through with an $11.7 million purchase price as a yearling. Meydan City won his second race after finishing third in his first.
His sire was Kingmambo and his dam, Crown of Crimson was by Seattle Slew. He was fairly successful as a stud.
Owner: Sheik Ahmed bin Mohammad Al Maktoum
Bred: Kentucky, by Jayeff B Stables
Seattle Dancer – $13.1 million
Seattle Dancer was a son of Nijinsky, sired by Northern Dancer, who became the most expensive yearling ever sold at public auction in 1985. Sold for $13.1 million.
He raced five times and won two of those races before being retired to stand at stud.
He sired 37 stakes race winners before dying of a heart attack at only 23 years old in 2007 in Germany.
Born: April 22, 1984
Died: June 2, 2007
Owners: Stavros Niarchos, Sue Magnier, Robert Sangster, and Vincent O’Brien
Moorland’s Totilas (Toto) – $9.5 – $15 million
Sometimes found listed as only Totilas, this Dutch Warmblood is the only dressage horse found on the list. He is said to be the world’s best dressage horse ever to live.
Nicknamed “Toto,” he is the first horse to score above 90 in dressage. This expensive horse was retired from competition in 2015 after a very successful career.
Born: 2000 in the Netherlands
Rider: Edward Gal, Matthias Alexander Rath
Owners: Paul Schockemohle, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff
Palloubet D’Halong – $15 million
This horse has the honor of being the only showjumper on the list of most expensive horses. Not a bad showing for his discipline at $15 million.
Jan Tops paid the record-breaking price for the then 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding who had made an impressive showing at the PSI European Championship as well as finishing second in the Aachen Rolex Grand Prix.
Palloubet D’Halong also jumped double clear rounds at several other competitions. Ridden by Janika Sprunger from the age of six years old until he was sold, he developed into a top-notch Grand Prix horse.
The Green Monkey – $16 million
Thought to be the biggest waste of money ever spent on a horse, this horse was an American Thoroughbred racehorse descended from Northern Dancer and Secretariat.
He never lived up to his hype, however, only earning a little over $10,000.
Unfortunately, he had to be euthanized at the young age of 14 due to severe laminitis.
The price of $16 million was the highest ever paid for a thoroughbred at public auction.
Born: February 4, 2004
Annihilator – $19 million
Some online sources don’t mention Annihilator as one of the most expensive horses, but he reportedly brought $19 million, which would mean he was well deserving of a place on the list of most expensive horses of all time.
The Thoroughbred racehorse only won around $3,000 in prize money. Little is known about his offspring, but it can be assumed they met with only moderate success as well.
Born: October 12, 1999
Owners: H. D. Woodhouse and M. Sakura
Shareef Dancer – $40 million
An American bred and British trained racehorse, Shareef Dancer brought an impressive $40 million. The stallion was sired by Northern Dancer.
He had five starts, finishing first in three races, second in one, and failing to place in the fifth. He was sire to several notable progenies.
Died: May 4th, 1999
Fusaichi Pegasus – $70 million
Fusaichi Pegasus is the most expensive horse ever costing $70 million. Living up to the mythical, this Thoroughbred racehorse won the Kentucky Derby in 2000.
He has career earnings of almost $2 million and sired of over 75 stakes winners worldwide.
Considering his price, his offspring were considered a disappointment. He had three offspring that turned out to be Grade 1 stakes winners, which were Bandini, Roman Ruler, and Haradusun. He was grandsire to one winner of the Belmont Stakes, Ruler on Ice.
Born: April 12, 1997