'I'm fortunate to have a young, enthusiastic and talented team'
Industry figures tell us how they are managing in self-isolation
Byerley Stud director and manager Ian Bradbury tells us about how he is managing – both personally and professionally – with the Europe-wide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus
How is life ticking over for you at the moment, how has life changed due to Covid-19 and lockdown?
Life hasn’t really changed for Byerley at all; it's business as usual. As mentioned in previous interviews, stud farms operate in their own bubble, therefore if it wasn’t for the news and media I would be none the wiser with regards to the worldwide impact of Covid-19.
At Byerley Stud we have implemented the protocol set out by the TBA which seems to be working well. The staff have been great and work very hard to support the smooth running of the yard within the current guidelines.
The TBA has also done an excellent job in keeping stud farms and covering sheds operational throughout the covering season and although it may seem that this year is going to be a struggle, it would have been a much bleaker future should mares have been empty for the following year.
My wife is always telling me how fortunate I am doing a job I love. I look forward to going to work every morning, and being able to forge ahead throughout lockdown has really highlighted how privileged I am doing what I do.
Can you give us a taste of some of the well-bred foals you've been welcoming this season?
We have been very busy foaling this year but two standout foals would be a Night Of Thunder colt out of Safehouse and a Sea The Moon filly out of Garabelle, both of whom exude quality.
The foals that have been born this year at Byerley Stud by first-season sires that I’m particularly impressed by are Lightning Spear, Havana Grey and Tasleet; all three are strong correct good walking foals.
The big question is whether to sell as foals or wait for the economy to recover and take a chance as yearlings?
Are you or your clients covering any fewer mares this year because of an expected downturn in the market?
No, we are just getting on with it. We have covered over 50 mares this season and see no reason to cut back.
That said, the number of stud farms in Wiltshire has reduced, either due to retirement or general cut backs thus creating opportunities for others to expand. Byerley has expanded the stud this year with the purchase of additional land, as well as building new barns and updating on-site staff accommodation. These are exciting times for us.
I'm fortunate to have a young, very enthusiastic and talented team who are passionate about breeding and racing, all being a great credit to the future of the industry.
What's your view on online sales, if they had to happen in Europe this year?
We all have to move with the times and inevitably the industry will have to embrace online sales at some point in the near future. I wouldn't buy a horse of any age without physically seeing it; however after viewing it I would be happy to bid remotely.
I don’t think online bidding is an answer to the present climate we find ourselves in. Government guidelines suggest that hotels and restaurants will be the last to reopen, coupled with those arriving from abroad having to self-isolate for two weeks.
I believe the October sales are an unlikely event. A possible delay to the yearling sales to December and a move of the foal and mare sales to early January could be a sensible compromise; only time will tell.
I believe the theory behind this is sound; however it won’t happen in Europe and I doubt it’s even legal. I wish the Americans good luck but would prefer to sit on the fence and watch what happens.
What's your best guess on what will happen to the market this year, and how long it will take to recover?
I would like to think things will get moving quickly, but it’s going to be damage limitation this year. My guess would be things will get back to normal over the next 12 months. I like the fact that everyone is pulling together and perhaps Tattersalls and Goffs UK representatives could canvas opinions and ideas during their stud visits.
Do you think there will be any positives to come out of the crisis eventually?
I believe online bidding could be a big positive but will change the auction ring as we know it forever; whether that’s a good thing only time will tell. Stallion owners may have to be more understanding this year with regards to October 1st terms, perhaps they could wait until all sales have been completed. Shadwell already offerJanuary terms; could this approach be adopted by all other stallion farms?
Any film, TV or book recommendations to share to get through quarantine?
The last book I read was Churchill’s Secret Warriors by Damien Lewis – a true story about the SAS in the Second World War – a great book about a remarkable bunch of men. I also like a laugh and never miss Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week!
What are you most looking forward to when racing returns?
I'm really looking forward to racing getting started again. Byerley Stud sponsors a few races at both Salisbury and Newbury racecourses; therefore I like to go as much as I can. I can highly recommend an evening at Salisbury, however we will have to wait a little while yet for it to reopen.
We have a few nice horses to follow this year. Mighty Rock is a filly by Cable Bay who was stakes placed last year and should improve a lot as a three-year-old; she is held in high regard by her trainer.
Stone Tornado, a filly by Toronado out of Irishstone, was a Listed winner last year and Group placed. We have high hopes for her this year.
I'm really looking forward to seeing Sunday Sovereign on the track and whether he has trained on as a three-year-old. He's rated 106 and beat Arizona by three lengths at the Curragh last year. He was trained by Paddy Twomey but was sold to King Power Racing and is now trained by Roger Varian.
From the draft of yearlings sold by Byerley Stud last year my two to watch out for are: firstly, a beautiful filly by Mayson out of Kaminari (by Sea The Stars), purchased by Ed Vaughan. The last time I spoke to Ed he was very keen on her.
The second, a filly by Elzaam out of Taffetta from the immediate family of A’Ali and Enforcer, bred by Mrs Heather Raw and who was purchased by Tom Ward. The filly is an out-and-out two-year-old and we wish Tom every luck with her.
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