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'I've been enjoying post-dinner quarantinis with friends on video call'

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

Tina Rau: thinks her Group 1-winning buy Wonderment could have a big year ahead
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Chantilly-based bloodstock agent Tina Rau 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?

I'm doing my confinement, as they call it here in France, in Chantilly at my partner [trainer] Nicolas Clement's place. We also have three of Nick's (grown-up) kids, plus one of their boyfriends, and two of his apprentices staying with us while the racing school is closed.

There's also Nicolas's assistant Tim Donworth, who lives in a little house in his garden, so all in all it's actually probably more lively here than at most other times!

I've put myself in charge of preparing lunch for eight every day –dinners are up to the 'kids'  and we've had some fun games nights with the crew. We're also fairly regular users of the Houseparty app for enjoying an apéro or post-dinner quarantinis with various friends.

Apart from that there's chickens, dogs, a garden, books and lots of sleeping to keep me amused and make the best of this strange time.

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

See above! Apart from that, I'm lucky in that I'm able to go with Nicolas to watch a lot or two when I feel like it.

I also had a fair bit of catching up to do admin-wise at the beginning of lockdown, having just returned from a two-month spell in Africa, where I added a qualification as a safari guide to my ever-growing list of random certificates.

Then there's been the keeping in touch with clients and studs about mares, foals, coverings and so on.

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

I followed the Inglis Easter online sale with interest and was delighted to see it was a success, but...

The Australian market seems way ahead on the digital front, the Easter Yearling Sale remains a relatively small sale in terms of quantity of lots, 80 per cent of the consignors are in a couple of hours' drive of each other and plenty of trainers and agents actually managed to see the horses at the studs before the auction.

I do a week-long yearling tour in Normandy before both the Arqana August and October yearling sales every year  I'm someone who likes to see a horse multiple times before bidding on one, and I'm not sure I'd love buying a horse I'd only seen once before  but I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

Either way, I don't see myself buying a breezer or yearling that I haven't seen in the flesh beforehand, so a lot will depend on freedom of movement  even within Europe – to go and see the horses at the studs if need be.

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

We're all in this together, and I think we've already seen some nice initiatives where sales companies and people have pulled together  be it to create the best outcome for all the sport's participants or to just provide some light entertainment in these dark times.

While I'm not on social media myself, I've been getting some good giggles out of various Twitter accounts that I've had the time to stalk. Special shout out here to Jamie Osborne and his team, who are just brilliant in what they come up with.

And another plug for a commendable incentive  this time in Germany and called Wetten Dass...?! [Bet On It?!], which aims to sign up 100 people before the start of the racing season who pledge to bet €50 in every single race run in Germany until mid-June. The idea is to promote the Tote system, which is the fundamental source of income for German racing and thus boost prize-money and try to make things a little easier on racecourses and the industry base.

Meanwhile, here in France it looks like racing will be the only sport able to go ahead from May 11 onward, so there's hope that we can actually capture a whole new audience of bored fans who have no football or other sports to keep them entertained. Fingers crossed.

Above: the Archie Watson-trained three-year-old is nominated as a horse to follow

What are you missing most, that you would normally be doing at this time of year?

I guess it's the first barbecues with friends in the garden and of course attending the first 'proper' races of the year – from the nice three-year-old maidens at this time of the year to the first two-year-old races. It's normally such an exciting time.

And of course there would be studs to visit and this year's foals to see, as well as getting a glimpse of some of the yearlings.

Even if it looks like racing might be able to resume here in France  before too long, it'll be very different behind closed doors  and unlikely that agents like myself will be able to be present. Watching it on telly won't quite be the same.

You purchased the Group 1 winner Wonderment with Nicolas for just €60,000; does she stay in training this year and if so, what are the plans for her?

Nicolas had a pretty bad virus in the stable last year, but that's well behind us now. Wonderment has stayed in training  she's much stronger than she was last year and hopefully will have a nice season in front of her. If all goes according to plan she'll start off in a Listed race at Longchamp in mid-May before possibly travelling stateside for the New York Handicap in Belmont in late June.

Later on in the year she should have plenty of high-class opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic. She's shown that she's easy to travel, so fingers crossed we'll have some fun!

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

I discovered West With The Night, a book by Beryl Markham, coming out of my African phase.

Beryl Markham was an extraordinary woman: born in England, she grew up in what is now Kenya and was the first person to successfully fly solo non-stop from the UK to the US. She was also a successful racehorse trainer for most of her life, and probably the first ever licensed female trainer.

West With The Night is an autobiography, and apart from being an ace pilot and horsewoman she's a pretty good writer, too!

Which horses are you most looking forward to seeing when racing returns?

I can't wait to see Above back on the track. He's trained by Archie Watson and owned by Sheikh Fahad; I bought him as a yearling for Morna McDowall, who sold him at the Arqana Breeze-Up Sale. He won three races as a two-year-old and is Group 3-placed already. According to his connections he should have a nice black-type win in him this year. 

There is plenty to look forward to here in France, too. Control Tower, a daughter of Youmzain bred by Stella Thayer (who also owns Wonderment), and Conte De Fee, a Sea The Stars filly from the family of Petrushka owned by Alexis Adamian, are probably my favourite three-year-old fillies in the stable. Both of them should have black type of sorts in them.

My dark horse is Reshabar, a three-parts brother in blood to Nathra trained by Markus Munch here in Chantilly and owned by Erich Schwaiger, for whom I bought the dam.


Read more Life in Lockdown Q&As with industry figures

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'

 

I've been getting some good giggles out of various Twitter accounts that I've had the time to stalk. Special shout out to Jamie Osborne and his team
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