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'We'll embrace and accept any format that will help get horses sold'

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

Simon Kerins: avid rugby fan is missing attending matches
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Tattersalls Ireland sales and marketing director Simon Kerins 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 during lockdown?

Life has certainly been different. All of us at Tattersalls Ireland have been working from home for nearly a month now following government protocols.

We're all in constant contact with each other and liaising with clients on a daily basis. With the restrictions in place we’ve had to adapt to new forms of technology and in fairness everyone has embraced them. I've been using Microsoft Teams, Zoom and so on; I wasn't familiar with any of those up until recently.

The Tattersalls Ireland board has been busy with reorganising the sales calendar and moving fixtures to later dates when there will be a return to racing in some format, and hopefully a lifting of restrictions currently in place.

We're very lucky to have an au-pair here in the house with us and she's been our guardian angel when it comes to looking after the children during the day. Needless to say, the kids are much more adept than us with all things IT-related and have homework from their school on a portal. They submit it when it’s completed and it’s corrected daily. It's nice to be able to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with the family, which would not happen usually.

It’s strange not going racing, or being able to watch it on the TV, and I miss following sport terribly. The glorious weather has been a help and getting out in the evening with my daughter and watching her ride her 29-year-old pony is great fun. We're very close to the Curragh Plains so we have a lot of space to run or walk.

What among the things that you would usually be doing at this time of year have you missed most?

I’ve missed the earlier breeze-up sales at Ascot and Newmarket and the planning for some of our early Tattersalls Ireland sales, which have since been postponed to later in the summer.

Naturally, I missed Aintree and the start of the Flat season, watching the Classic contenders and two-year-olds running for the first time and going to the early Flat meetings here in Ireland.

And I miss rugby terribly. I’m an avid follower and I would usually try to go to some of the games, but they're also postponed for the moment.

At the recent Inglis online sale the auctioneer conducted the sale to a mostly empty room. Is that something you've ever had a similar experience of and would it daunt you?

I’ve never sold to an empty room, but there have definitely been times when I’ve wielded the gavel with more people up on the rostrum than there were in the ring!

Tattersalls introduced online bidding years ago and we had a monitor on the rostrum, so we had to refer to bids online which we were notified of via someone on the rostrum. That was unusual, but we embrace and accept any concept or format that will help getting horses sold and will continue to do so.

It looks like when sales resume there will be one on top of another at Tattersalls and Tattersalls Ireland. Are you prepared for that?

These are extraordinary times and yes, the calendar will be congested later in the summer and consequently the autumn but this is the way things are with Covid-19.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on every facet of life across the world so we have to accept that the bloodstock business will have to adjust too. Everyone has been affected and we have to adapt accordingly.

Do you think there are any positives that will eventually come out of this crisis?

People are greeting each other while out walking or running much more than usual, and others are doing the most extraordinarily selfless things like contacting and helping others who are elderly or vulnerable.

The generosity of so many people has been heartwarming and I think in general we're all more appreciative of time with family and other family members we're unable to see. I wish I could see my 79-year-old mother and give her a hug!

It's also reminded me of what a terrific industry we're all involved in.

From a Tattersalls perspective people have adapted extraordinarily well; the concept of working from home would have once seemed unusual to me and lots of others, but in a short period of time it has become the new norm. That's not to forget the fact that the nature of our business is selling horses and interacting with people, but we'll be able to do that again in the not too distant future.

People who work in this game will miss racing immensely but they'll emerge from this crisis with an even greater appreciation of the sport. We're all champing at the bit (excuse the pun) for it to resume, even if it's behind close doors.

There will be new technologies and options for us all to consider during and after this pandemic and certainly Tattersalls are considering all available avenues to give clients the best opportunities of selling their horses.

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

I'm sticking to a routine. Well, as best as I can. I’m at my desk or laptop from 9am after breakfast, I take my hour for lunch and finish at just after 5pm. I’ve never had this type of routine before.

The days are generally longer. Taking calls late is part of the job and that continues, but as we're all in this together we're collectively trying to find solutions to move forward.

I’ve also taken to cooking, which was never my forte. However I’m eating on an ad hoc basis i.e., constantly! Consequently I’ve been attempting to run twice a week, though it's more a slow-motion jog, and I'm doing a little gym work.

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

I’ve been watching Ozark - I'm catching up on the second season at the moment. I enjoyed the film The Keeper immensely and I’m reading Chris Hammer’s Silver, which seems good so far.

I like Audible and listen to a lot of audiobooks, particularly in the car, which isn’t moving a lot currently. However, I’ve just finished listening to David Cameron’s book For the Record, which is definitely worth a read or listen. Becoming Myself by Irvin Yalom is another to check out and I loved Ian Poulter’s book No Limits.

What are you most looking forward to when racing returns?

I love following the first-season sires, and finding out who stands out from the crowd and which one proves us all wrong. It's always enjoyable watching horses I’ve sold perform well.

I obviously love to watch the Classic season unfold and it will be interesting to see what format for those races evolves.

I’m looking forward to it all happening and reading a packed Racing Post again.


Read more Life in Lockdown Q&As with industry figures

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'

 

I wish I could see my 79-year-old mother and give her a hug!
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