'The industry has often bounced back as quickly as it dipped'
Bloodstock figures tell us how they are managing in self-isolation
County Cork-based bloodstock agent and breeder Barry Lynch tells us about how he is managing – both personally and professionally – with the Europe-wide lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus
How is life ticking over for you at the moment?
Despite the world coming to a standstill life has been ticking over nicely. My family have stayed healthy and the weather has been kind to us in the last month.
I've had a few nice foals and some of our mares are covered again. Generally speaking we've just been trying to keep as busy and prepared as possible for when racing and sales kick off again.
With no racing or sales in Europe at present, your scope to do business must be limited. What are you doing instead?
Business has been challenging but I'm still working on buying horses privately and I've been keeping in touch with clients and trainers.
I've managed to pick up several breeding prospects and horses in training but it has been difficult and the logistics of doing business are greatly hampered.
I'm also making sure that the admin, accounts, website and so on are up to date as I'm hopeful that when racing restarts we'll see plenty of trade.
All the sale companies have been working tirelessly to re-arrange the sale dates, schedules and locations. Hopefully, I'll be able to support the sales by buying some good two-year-olds in training when the market opens up.
What's your view on online sales, if they had to happen in Europe this year?
Inglis Easter earlier this month showed that online sales are workable and if they do happen in Europe this year I'll be doing my best to take part.
It's important for agents that we're able to see the horses in the flesh to get a feel for them, but if we can manage that somehow, coupled with all the other information that we're able to attain online – breeze videos, conformation photos and vet information – I feel it would be a suitable remedy to overcome the coronavirus restrictions.
More importantly, for sales to restart we need racing to restart. Without racing it will be very hard to make the sales work.
Are you keeping in contact with clients and trainers?
I'm still in contact with trainers, to check in with how clients' horses are working, and then informing clients about their progress. I'll also be making tentative enquiries with clients about getting involved in the breeze-up sales.
Do you think there will be any positives to come out of the crisis eventually?
I thought is was very innovative of Arqana and Goffs UK to join forces by staging their breeze-up sales together in Ireland. It showed that our industry is willing to pull together for the greater good when our backs are up against the wall.
They're giving the breeze-up consignors a solid opportunity to provide a good sale. We're going to see a focus on online bidding, and more internet data such as videos, photos and measurements, which are all good steps in improving the selling of horses in future whether the coronavirus is here or not.
In difficult times it's often hard to see the outcome as positive but the racing industry has overcome lots of obstacles and recessions in the past. It can bounce back as quickly as it dips.
On a personal level, how are you keeping yourself busy during lockdown?
I have a few mares that I own in partnership with my father. We've been busy covering and making sure the foals are progressing well.
Outside of work, I got back running and spending some quality time with my family. It's a big change from previous years as I would normally have been travelling for work in late February and March.
Any film, TV or book recommendations to share to get through home confinement?
Peaky Blinders is always a good watch, but the kids seem to take over the TV so Fireman Sam, Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol have been the staple through lockdown!
A book I can recommend is As The Crow Flies by Jeffrey Archer. It’s a fascinating story with multiple twists and turns.
What are you most looking forward to when racing returns?
Racing cannot come back soon enough. There are several progressive three-year-olds I've bought who could have a good year ahead in Bodyline (with Sir Mark Prescott), Animal Instinct (with Sir Mark again), Schroders Mistake (with Ken Condon) and Elusive King (another with Ken).
I'm also excited by the two-year-olds I bought as yearlings who are due to run, including a Kingman colt out of Merry Jaunt with Sir Mark, a Starspangledbanner filly out of Condensed in training with Joseph O’Brien and a fast Territories colt with Michael Dods all good examples.
It will be great getting back on the sales and racing scene, where I have some great friends and colleagues. We'll be able to leave this pandemic behind us and have a much better appreciation for racing having been starved of it for such a long while.
Read more Life in Lockdown Q&As with industry figures