'Tiger King is the most surreal documentary I’ve ever seen'
Industry members tell us how they are managing in self-isolation
The father and son team of Grant and Tom Pritchard-Gordon of the Newmarket-based Badgers Bloodstock agency tell us about how they are managing – both personally and professionally – with the UK government's lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
How is life at Badgers Bloodstock ticking over?
Grant Importantly, we are alive and virus-free at the moment.
What are you doing differently at work, if anything, to deal with coronavirus and the lockdown?
Grant A certain nameless friend lectures me regularly that I must keep strictly to routine with desk work, shaving and dressing appropriately, with daily stretching and yoga. Not every one of those disciplines are being respected every day, but I will admit that he has a valid point. We have to keep ourselves busy in mind and body.
With no racing or sales in Europe at present, your scope to do business must be limited. What are you doing instead?
Tom As everyone will appreciate, there are no bloodstock deals being completed here in Europe. Logistically it would be impossible to inspect and vet horses for sale while being socially responsible.
However, we need to stay in touch with studs and trainers who have mares, yearlings, foals and racehorses for our overseas clients. Thank heavens for WhatsApp. Photos, videos and reports make it possible for us to maintain communication in a way that was barely imaginable even just a few years ago.
We're fortunate that much of our business is with Australia. Obviously the trade in racing prospects has ground to a halt, as has the daily reporting on likely prospects to be exported to Australia.
However, the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale has kept us busy since January. We had compiled big data on all graduates of the sale over the past 15 years and it looked as if all our in-depth research was to be wasted when travel plans became impossible, but the transfer of the sale into an online auction has suddenly revitalised our involvement.
We have people reporting back to us with notes on conformation from visits to the main studs and then we are cross-referencing their comments by seeing the photos and videos of every lot that are posted on line with Inglis.
The sale will start on April 5 and this could mean a few sleepless nights as we follow the online auction of every lot in a time zone that will be nine hours ahead of us.
Hopefully clients will continue to believe that our research and analysis adds value to their search for their future racing stock.
Inglis have always been very pro-active in the pursuit of technological advances in the world of bloodstock auctions. They will surely reap the benefit in the next few months and years. They already have monthly on-line auctions that have proved to be very well received. This is something that Goffs and Tattersalls need to investigate very seriously. It's the way forward.
Will bloodstock agencies like yours be able to avail of the UK government's support packages announced so far?
Grant At the moment, it doesn't look very promising that our business will qualify for government assistance. We are a small family firm with no outside employees.
While welcoming their efforts, it is hard for government to cover every scenario. However, there are so many other people in much worse positions than ourselves.
This certainly is not the time to complain.
On a personal level, how are you keeping yourself busy during lockdown?
Grant Although we live next door to each other deep in the Suffolk countryside, we have kept the two families totally separate. Tom has a young family to entertain and home-school, while the grandparents focus on reading, jigsaws and television.
Staying in touch with friends and family (especially another son in Australia with more grandchildren) is important to us and again we bless the internet with FaceTime and Zoom. I am being constantly advised that my screen-time on my phone is unhealthy, but there are the added advantages of receiving a stream of amusing jokes and videos that flow between friends the world over.
Any film, TV or book recommendations to share to get through home confinement?
Tom Like much of the nation, I’ve started watching Tiger King on Netflix, which is without doubt the most surreal documentary I’ve ever seen. It makes the racing industry look rather tame!
If you haven’t already, download the George and Charlie Off The Bridle Podcast, which gives a great insight into the lives of Messrs Scott and Fellowes.
Grant I can strongly recommend reading Where the Crawdads Sing and A Gentleman in Moscow. Again, we are blessed with having access to so many television channels and the ability to record.
Succession has been a particular favourite on Sky Atlantic while Spiral is recommended through catch-up TV on Channel 4.
I even have to admit to being hooked on The Greatest Dancer and Portrait Artist of the Year.
What is the availability of groceries and essential products around you like?
Grant While deliveries by Ocado and Waitrose may sound the ideal solution, the online experience with their websites has proved to be an absolute nightmare and we have moved away from that idea.
Fortunately, the badger household has always been run with a well-stocked store cupboard, while an excellent village shop, a local farm shop, a local butcher and well-stocked wine merchant have kept us living a very normal life.
What are you most looking forward to when racing returns?
Grant Reports from the trainers give us optimism that our purchases will give their owners fun this year, so a resumption of racing would be lovely. Regional racing seems to be the way forward behind closed doors.
It will also be a pleasure to see this year's foals in the flesh. However, much the most important wish is that we find all familiar faces on the racecourses and at sales have survived the virus and its financial stresses. That may be one wish too far, but we must remain optimistic.
Read our Life in Lockdown Q&As