'It has added a new positive dimension to my career' - Amy Lanigan
The ex-Flying Start graduate turned photographer and now Arqana representative
Former Darley Flying Start graduate Amy Lanigan was appointed as Arqana's US representative last month, a role she will undertake alongside her flourishing photography business. Now based in Kentucky with husband David, the former trainer, she is the latest industry figure to tackle our questions.
Tell us about your background and how you got into racing...
I grew up on a farm in rural Ohio and I’m the youngest of eight kids. I always loved the thoroughbred industry. My parents encouraged me to travel and horses were a great way to do that. I worked for trainer Janis Calton on the track in Montana, she was great and taught me lots. I wanted to learn more about the breeding side of the industry though, so I moved to Kentucky.
I worked for Claiborne before spending a season in Ireland at Coolmore. When I got back to the States I worked for Benny Bell Williams at The Bell Group, an advertising agency for the horse industry. She was a terrific boss and has continued to help me over the years.
While working at The Bell Group an ad came through for the inaugural Darley Flying Start programme. Luckily, I was accepted onto the course, it was an amazing opportunity and the people I met have been such a big part of my life, both from a career perspective and as friends. After graduation I was offered a job at Dalham Hall Stud in the marketing department, and during my time at Darley my husband David started training and I decided to work with him.
While working with David I would take lots of photographs of the horses for their owners. A few farms started asking me to photograph horses for them and after a while it became full-time. I was working for Tattersalls at the December Sales a few years ago and John Ferguson asked me if I would do some research work for him. It worked out great with the photography business.
We moved back to Kentucky in 2020 - I have continued my business over here, as well my work for John - and now I'm delighted to add the role as US representative to Arqana as well.
You have worked at a variety of racing and breeding operations, which was the most interesting/enjoyable and what did you learn from the role?
I've learned something valuable from every job I've had, both what to do and also what not to do. I'm very fortunate that I love what I'm doing now. I get a lot of happiness out of my photography but I also love getting to do research.
The Arqana position has added a new positive dimension to my career as well. I like to have a variety of work and I feel like at the moment the different jobs I have complement each other nicely.
Who have been the biggest influences in your career so far?
My parents have always encouraged me and been a big support in my life. John Ferguson has been a huge help to me as well. In an industry with many highs and lows, he is eternally optimistic and
always thinks outside the box. It has been great working with him these past few years and I have learned a lot from the feedback he gives me on the various projects we work on.
Your best day in the business?
Hopefully the best is yet to come. So far though, the day I walked through the gates of the stallion yard at Coolmore with my camera instead of a mare was pretty memorable.
Who do you most admire within the industry and why?
I have the utmost admiration for the four women that I was on the Flying Start course with, Kate Grimwade, Lisa-Jane Graffard, Tina Rau and Hanako Sonobe Varian. They are all amazing, they're smart, hardworking and incredibly capable. I'm lucky to have them in my life.
How has Covid-19 affected your photography business?
I was really worried when we arrived back in Kentucky in April 2020 as most farms were not doing photos because of Covid and my client base was all in Europe. Kerry Cauthen of Four Star Sales was a huge help and supporter.
With all of the restrictions on travel, conformation photos and walking videos became an important part of the sale process. Kerry helped me to pick up lots of clients prior to the sales and diversify my photography business into videos as well.
I've been very lucky to get some work for stallion photography as well; Darley have been wonderful to me as have Lane’s End, Taylor Made and Shadwell. Anne Eberhardt-Keogh has also been incredibly kind and given me various assignments for The Blood-Horse. So, despite a slow start when we first arrived back, it has been very positive.
You've pictured a variety of stallions; can you give us some of the big names you've done and a few you've particularly enjoyed capturing?
I love photographing the stallions as the grooms always turn them out immaculately and try hard to get you a great shot. Two of my past favourites are Galileo and Dubawi, both were so utterly aware of their brilliance.
Most of the time I'm photographing the younger stallions and it is wonderful to see them early on and how they've let down after that first year. One of my favourite new stallions to photograph this year was Game Winner, he is so well-balanced and professional, he walked out like a supermodel.
Tell us more about what you'll be doing in your new role at Arqana...
I'm very excited about my new role with Arqana. I'll be helping to promote the sale from the US, both encouraging buyers to purchase horses as well as breeders to sell their horses there. Americans have been more prominent in recent years at European sales and had great success, particularly from Arqana with the likes of Uni and Etoile.
With the expanding turf programme in the US, it is an opportune time to source European pedigrees. Eric [Hoyeau], Freddy [Powell] and the team are wonderful to work with and very forward-thinking about promoting the sale and getting top quality bloodstock to offer there. Tony Lacy, the previous US representative, has been incredibly helpful advising me with the new role.
What will your role involve for the upcoming August Yearling Sale in Deauville?
Arqana have chartered a private flight that will leave from Albany, New York following the Saratoga Select Yearling Sale and fly directly to Deauville. I think it's a great idea and has been very well received. It’s a tight turn around to get from the Saratoga Sale to Arqana and they are trying to make it as convenient as possible for clients to attend. I'll be at the sale in Deauville and be on hand to help there as well.
Finally, have you got a racehorse/stallion/mare you're involved with that our readers should look out for?
Of all of the wonderful horses I get to be around I'm most excited about a yearling filly by Klimt out of Woodland Sprite.
My daughters, Katie and Sophie, have ventured into their first partnership with Thomas and Julia Cauthen and John Greathouse’s team at Glencrest Farm. The filly was purchased out of the Keeneland November Sale last year and is headed to Keeneland in September.
She has done incredibly well over the winter and is a lovely sort. Most importantly, though, the kids are excited about it and the whole process has been a great lesson for them.