'Staff have had all their own gear labelled, even the wheelbarrows'
Industry members tell us how they are managing in self-isolation
Jamie Lloyd, bloodstock agent and manager of pre-training centre Far Westfield Farm in Warwickshire, tells us about how he is managing – both personally and professionally – with the UK government's lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
How is life at Far Westfield Farm ticking over?
Like most busy stud farms at this time of year our normal day to day life hasn’t been too disrupted. Few of us get to socialise much this time of year with foaling and breeding, and fortunately most of our team live on site and we are relatively isolated anyway.
There continues to be concerns about our ability to transport and breed mares, but hopefully under sensible management we will be able continue and make our contribution to next year’s foal crop.
We have seen a recalling of horses by trainers due to the restrictions on transportation, but this was to be expected and its very much an evolving picture.
What new measures have you brought in for extra biosecurity?
I reached out to all our staff a few weeks ago and stressed the very real need for us to introduce strict biosecurity protocols, and I also asked them all to be very conscious of what they do outside of work and what interactions they deem necessary in an effort to keep the whole team healthy and able to provide the care these horses need.
Fortunately, we have had the same staff for many years now and most of them are already experienced in disease control, as are most people who work around busy foaling units.
Our main focus has been on sterilising any common surfaces that staff routinely share, door handles to horse walkers, lunge rings and stables. All staff have had all their own gear labelled, even wheelbarrows, and no longer share anything. For most of us it has been a logical evolution of our regular protocols on the farm.
You're also a bloodstock agent; have you been able to do any deals with racing and sales cancelled?
We were active at the March OBS sales, purchasing a few and chasing home a handful of the top fillies. We had a couple of private deals go through early on at the start of the pandemic but sadly now most activity has halted.
Clients, like the rest of us, are focusing on their families and business, but there is still a healthy level of interest, and when racing does resume around the world we will all be refreshed and ready to go.
You're particularly involved in transatlantic trade with David Meah. How do you think this crisis might affect sourcing horses for America, if at all?
Once racing resumes we will be busy restocking for our clients in Europe, the US and Qatar. The longer the shutdown continues the less relevant some existing form becomes, and likewise if we do see a reintroduction of racing in a regional format, as has been suggested, then selling the resulting form wont be easy.
Obviously that is a minor issue in the greater scale of things and the main objective is to get the racing industry going again as quickly, safely and sensibly as possible.
David has just recently relocated to Kentucky with his wife Anna who is training at Keeneland, so we have some exciting times to come.
On a personal level, how are you keeping yourself busy during lockdown?
We're pretty busy anyway at home, but with no sales I’m able to spend a great deal more time on the farm, which has been a real blessing.
With three kids at home the farm is far from quiet, and one of our riders Katie Tuttiett is giving the kids riding lessons most days. Who knows, they might finally learn how to ride, or even muck out a stable. The latter might be a stretch!
Any film, TV or book recommendations to share to get through home confinement?
I’m a bit of a movie geek so I finally signed up to Netflix, which is certainly delivering all my needs. I also started the Sopranos from season one again, and a daily dose of The West Wing is essential viewing.
The kids have discovered the big screen versions of the Chronicles of Narnia, which seems to have taken over their lives.
What is the availability of groceries and essential products around you like?
We're well stocked up with local farm produce, and with ducks and chickens on the farm too we have no shortage of eggs.
Our local village shop has been faultless, they haven’t once run short of the essentials so we haven’t had to use the larger supermarkets in town much at all.
What are you most looking forward to when racing returns?
Getting back out on the road and meeting with clients and attending the racing.
We have a lot of exciting horses to race, both here and abroad; David and I had our best year to date last year and it's important to salvage what we can this year and build on that.
We have a few purchases from the end of last year that are now waiting for their US debuts and are really exciting their trainers.
We also have some exciting orders for this year’s breeze-up sales so I'll be looking forward to those sales resuming.
Read more Life in Lockdown Q&As with industry figures