Sunday 16 June 2019

Tattersalls boss tips new owners to jump into gap left by O'Leary

 

Next week's Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair will see the biggest ever movement of competition horses across the Irish Sea
Next week's Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair will see the biggest ever movement of competition horses across the Irish Sea

Fearghal O'Connor

The departure of Michael O'Leary from Irish horse racing is an opportunity for others to shine on the track and could usher in a whole new generation of racehorse owners, according to Tattersalls chief executive Matt Mitchell.

Racehorse auctioneer Tattersalls is having its busiest ever month for sales and events, he said.

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Tattersalls May Store Sale saw 145 young National Hunt horses sold, at an average price of €17,677, up 16pc on last year. The aggregate sales figure was over €2.5m, 14pc, he said.

"You're always surprised when a big individual owner like Michael O'Leary stops. But it has to be recognised that he won what was to be won so it's understandable."

Tattersalls' end of June Derby sale is expected to have a turnover of around €17m, but could be the first to be impacted by the Ryanair boss' announcement that he is winding down his huge Gigginstown operation.

"They have been purchasing at that sale for a long time. They are significant players because their objective was always to have a Grade 1 National Hunt horse and, of course, we are selling the Grade 1 horses. So this is the place that they would shop. There is concern about the Gigginstown effect," said Mitchell.

But there is potential to bring in new owners, he added. In 2008 there were 5,000 registered owners and that fell during the course of the recession to 3,300, where it is today.

"Given the economy and availability of discretionary spending, one would think that more owners will start to register," he said.

The idea of owning horses was "beginning to capture the imagination" of a new breed of wealthy tech executives and other new industry workers and that they could start to replace old-style super-rich owners like O'Leary he said.

"Gigginstown has been very dominant on the racetrack so other people will begin to see a bigger chance of success and that encourages people to buy."

Mitchell is also preparing for next week's Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair, the largest event of its kind in the country and one of the largest in Europe with 35,000 spectators expected. The fair will tomorrow see the biggest ever movement of competition horses to cross the Irish Sea in one go in two ferries from the UK to Ireland, as 190 horses from 14 countries cross the Irish Sea in about 70 trucks.

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