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'The industry is a family and we'll help each other as we have done before'

Bloodstock figures tell us how they are managing in self-isolation

Philippa Mains: found naming inspiration in the movie Unbroken
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Bloodstock agent and syndicate manager Philippa Mains tells us about how she 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?

It's not been easy, but I have learned a lot, particularly with regard to home improvements and gardening. I've been busy finishing the renovation on my house and, for the first time in my life, tackling a garden!

The added bonus of two dogs to entertain on long walks has kept me fit and busy. There is plenty to read in the various racing-related papers so that has kept me in touch; as much as I can be.

With no racing or sales in Europe at present, your scope to do business must be limited. What are you doing instead?

Yes, it's not great, but there will be light at the end of the tunnel with the breeze-up sales being staged but later than usual. I'm also lucky that I have a monthly income from doing accounts and admin for some clients. That keeps me busy and the brain active.

What's your view on online sales, if they had to happen in Europe this year?

I think in today's world we will have to seriously consider it, in order to keep the bloodstock world going. We need trade, as well as racing.

With racing hopefully happening behind closed doors in the not too distant future, an online auction platform to sell or buy is certainly one way forward.

I would find it hard to have to base my buying decision on a video, but that is where doing your homework will come into play.

What are you missing most that you'd usually be doing at this time of year?

Watching the first-season sire two-year-olds hitting the track, and going to watch my own interests on the gallops.

What I miss most of all, though, is showing off the two-year-olds that we have to our syndicate members and organising the yard visits for them.

Cayenne Pepper: a filly that excites Philippa Mains for 2020

Do you think there will be any positives to come out of the crisis eventually?

This industry has shown in the past how resilient it is. We're all in the same boat and, as the bloodstock family has done many times before, we'll help each other out. The hardest part will be keeping the turnover of horses at the sales this year so the smaller members can trade.

On a personal level, how are you keeping yourself busy during lockdown?

Dog walks, gardening, DIY, reading and a lot of FaceTime!

Any film, TV or book recommendations to share to get through home confinement?

I'm not the biggest TV watcher, but recently I saw a movie called Unbroken which was phenomenal. It's based on a true story that was written by the author of Seabiscuit. It's actually been the inspiration behind the naming of a two-year-old filly by Iffraaj who I bought last year.

I love David Attenborough, too. He's special.

The last book I read was Educated by Tara Westover  totally fascinating and very inspirational.

What are you most looking forward to when racing returns?

Just seeing the horses. Those I'm particularly looking forward to are headed by Cayenne Pepper, a three-year-old filly by Australia with Jessie Harrington.

Her owners Jon and Sarah Kelly have been hugely supportive. Harriet Jellett – aka Mum – and I have a dream that they will have a top-tier horse running in their colours and she seems to be one who could do that for them this year.

Jamie McCalmont has also been a huge help in reminding me that we never stop learning in this industry and with our little team, including Jessie to steer us, I keep dreaming.

Another exciting horse is Streamline, a three-year-old Due Diligence colt in training with Clive Cox. He has been a total joy to be associated with, and is our first big hitter for Mainline Racing. He will be aimed at some of the bigger sprint races. 

There's also Northbound, a two-year-old colt by Fast Company with Hugo Palmer. He seems to be doing everything right. The sire has his best crop this year hitting the track and I hope Northbound shows that.

The aforementioned Unbroken is with Jessie Harrington. She's grown and strengthened a lot since we bought her and is showing all the right signs.

Finally, Golden Lyric is a two-year-old Lope De Vega filly who has all the credentials to be exciting. She's doing everything very easily and is another one with Jessie.

Read more Life in Lockdown Q&As with industry figures

Claire Goodwillie: 'People have realised if you're not online you're invisible'

Tina Rau: 'I'm enjoying post-dinner quarantinis with friends over video call'

Daniel Creighton: 'The market will recover – the only question is when'

Ed Player: 'We're happy to move with the times and embrace online trading'

Patrick Sells: 'Chasemore Farm is effectively operating in a bubble'

Chad Schumer: 'Racing in the US being cancelled is the biggest frustration'

Tom Blain: 'Trade will be down but all we can do is roll with the punches'

Ted Voute: 'We'll need to strengthen the way we showcase young stock'

Simon Kerins: 'We'll embrace any format that will help get horses sold'

Barry Lynch: 'The industry has often bounced back as quickly as it dipped'

Tim Lane: 'Working with horses does you the world of good in these times'

Jerry Horan: 'My sister butchered my haircut. I think it was payback'

Violet Hesketh and Mimi Wadham: 'Social distancing isn't hard - just lonely!'

Henry Beeby: 'Nick Nugent and I have entered a beard growing competition'

Charles O'Neill: 'ITM will be ready to go when the markets open up again'

Freddy Powell: 'We're improving our online sale platform in case it's needed'

Bumble Mitchell: 'Online sales could be tricky for outlying studs like mine'

David Stack: 'I had to give a garda a lesson about the birds and the bees'

Colm Sharkey: 'I've been torturing myself trying to sort out my golf swing'

Rachael Gowland: 'I didn't realise how much I loved racing until I couldn't go'

Sam Hoskins: 'I've been listening to endless Cold War podcasts on my tractor'

Niamh Spiller: 'Video calls are very important to keep everyone motivated'

Jamie Lloyd: 'Staff have had all their own gear labelled, even wheelbarrows'

Micheál Orlandi: 'The stallions are flying and that gives me great hope'

Richard Venn: 'The French are in a good position to get back racing sooner'

Tim Kent: 'It's difficult to plan when we don't know when racing will resume'

Russell Ferris: 'Weatherbys had contingency plans that we activated at once'

Grant and Tom Pritchard-Gordon: 'Inglis Easter has kept us busy since January'

Peter Hockenhull: 'The social side of meeting and chatting to breeders is gone'

Polly Bonnor: 'We've fulfilled every feed order, including all our exports'

Richard Lancaster: 'We're fortunate that some Shadwell staff live on site'


Streamline has been a total joy to be associated with, and is our first big hitter for Mainline Racing
E.W. Terms