Brits Barred From Derby Sale As Covid Rules Change

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Tom Malone | Tattersalls Ireland

A last-minute change of local Covid regulations in Ireland has led to British buyers already in the country for the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale being unable to attend the sales complex at Fairyhouse.

The company's major sale of National Hunt store horses gets underway at 11am on Wednesday and continues through Thursday, but those who had already travelled across the Irish Sea under strict protocols which included a 'bubble' for visitors from Britain, can no longer participate in person. 

Bloodstock agent Tom Malone vented his frustration on social media on Tuesday evening upon hearing the news, having already spent two days viewing the young jumping stock on the sales grounds. 

He told TDN on Wednesday morning, “First of all, Tatts have done everything within their power to make sure that it goes ahead but unfortunately they are dealing with local authorities and, at the last minute, which was yesterday afternoon, they said that the English bubble does now not apply at the sales complex and if it goes ahead they would cancel everything. None of us would do that to anyone else. We are all in this industry together and we just have to work on and get it done.”

Malone said that he will now be following the sale online and liaising with Mags O'Toole on the ground at Fairyhouse. He continued, “It's frustrating. I've done all my work so it's not the end of the world for me because I have seen everything I want. But my business runs on being active on the ground, and if I am not on the ground I am definitely going to be 50% less active, because when I'm there I'll buy. 

“The people who have done this don't realise the ramifications of what they have done but unfortunately it can't be changed now, and what it means for the sales coming up I don't know.”

Around 100 people had travelled from Britain to attend the sale and have been staying together in a hotel under the bubble arrangement which allows for travel between the sales ground and the hotel only. 

Malone, an Irish-born former jump jockey now resident in the south-west of England added, “You come in clean with a PCR test. I've had a jab and I am doing everything I'm told to do to run my business, but out of Tatts' hands someone is ruining it for us all. But that's just where we find ourselves.

“Niamh Spiller and Mary Lanigan and all their team [at Tattersalls Ireland] have done phenomenal work late into the night making sure everyone was catered for. I feel for them. They've done everything they can.”

The first day of the Derby sale saw a gelded son of Westerner (GB) fetch the top price of €160,000 from Michael Shefflin and Paul Holden. Sold by Castletown Quarry Stud, lot 131 is a full-brother to Grade 1 winner Ferny Hollow (Ire).

Joey Logan Bloodstock purchased a son of Doctor Dino (Fr) (lot 93) for €155,000, while Malone signed in conjunction with Paul Nicholls for three six-figure lots, including a full-brother to the Grade 2-winning and Grade 1-placed Mount Mews (Ire) (Presenting {GB}) (lot 87). The clearance rate was up to 84% from 73% last year, with 149 sold of 177 offered, and the average and median both climbed, 33% and 37%, respectively, to €51,332 and €40,000.

Tattersalls Ireland Chief Executive Officer Simon Kerins said, “Day one of the Derby Sale has produced fantastic results with an average just shy of record-breaking figures seen in 2017. It is a huge positive to see that UK buyers contributed to 33% of today's turnover and fueled many bidding wars with those on the ground.

“We would like to acknowledge the overwhelming positivity, understanding and support from our UK purchasers, our loyal vendors and the wider industry in light of the 11th hour changes in requirements for those UK purchasers intending to be at the 2021 Derby sale. We take our responsibility for public health very seriously as already illustrated by the disruption to the 2021 Sales Calendar thus far, and the decision to run this year's Derby Sale on its traditional date was taken in good faith with all of the information made available to us and in comprehensive consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including Government agencies. In order to minimise the movement of people while accommodating the need for purchasers to be on hand to inspect potential purchases, in consultation with all relevant parties we had developed a set of protocols for the safe attendance of a small number of UK based buyers at the sales in Ireland.

“While cognisant of the significant public health issues faced by us all at this time we are acutely disappointed that having welcomed back our loyal and supportive UK purchasers, we were compelled to communicate the change in requirements for these purchasers at such a late stage. As you would expect every effort was made to find a remedy but due to the escalating Delta variant of Covid 19 this was just not possible.

“In light of this development we will now take time to review the remaining sales programme for 2021, with key stakeholders and the relevant state agencies, and advise of any updates as required.”

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