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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Eternal optimist aiming to breed a female Arc winner

Goffs' international client relations manager answers our questions

Hayley O'Connor: will be seeking new clients for Goffs but don't ask her to do the auctioneering
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Goffs appointed Hayley O'Connor - former PR and communications manager for Ladbrokes - to the new role of international client relations in October.

A successful owner-breeder with plenty of experience in the bloodstock industry, O'Connor donned the Goffs jacket for the first time at last month's November Foal Sale. 

Back on the grounds at Kill for this week's December National Hunt Sale, O'Connor gives us the lowdown on her new job and wider industry issues in our interview.

What is the nature of your new role at Goffs?

I will be assisting the team in looking after new and existing clients from overseas. Ireland produces incredibly versatile, elite thoroughbreds and the Goffs team have established a global client base that will continue to evolve. I will be promoting investment in Irish bloodstock through Goffs and helping to facilitate the best possible service to our international clients.

What will you be doing for Goffs in the short term?

First and foremost, getting to know more of the faces of the bloodstock industry, as it is very different from the racing fraternity.

The November sale was a good opportunity to meet visiting clients from different countries and get a feel for what each market wants, some of which I will visit in 2018.

I live between Dublin and London, and I'll be seeking out new business in the UK. For example, Juddmonte teamed up with Bentley in Newmarket last week, by driving visitors to their stallion parade. One of their representatives told me that the average age of a Bentley owner was 35, and I think that end of the luxury market has a lot of potential. 

A racehorse is an exciting, lifestyle enhancing purchase, and the prospect of sourcing a horse at the Goffs London Sale on Monday to run at Royal Ascot that week presents a unique and exclusive opportunity.

Coming to Ireland is also enticing for prospective clients, where they know they will receive a great welcome and hospitality. It’s home to Aidan O’Brien, Willie Mullins, Galileo and so on, and Goffs is just 30 minutes from a capital city, and even less to the Curragh, so it is accessible to new clients. Hopefully I’ll be bringing a few of them through our doors.

How did you find your first sale working for Goffs in November?

Great, busy and exciting. Seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes, which I find fascinating, means I'm quickly getting to understand the workings of an organisation that insists on such high standards of integrity and transparency. The amount of work that is not seen and the lengths that Goffs go to ensure the fairest deal at all levels of the market is quite an eye-opener.

I was taken aback by how kind many of the vendors were in welcoming me and how generous they were with their time in providing me with advice they felt could benefit me going forward. Pinhookers in general are entrepreneurially-minded so I was very grateful for it.

I also got to meet our foreign agents, along with ITM, and I’m excited about the plans that are in the pipeline for next year.

Give us three lots to follow at Goffs this week

If you asked me this ten times I could have ten different answers, such is the depth of the catalogue. I love a good race filly and Petite Parisienne was a really nimble, game athlete. She had many excuses not to win the juvenile Grade 1 in Punchestown but nothing stood in her way and she landed it by a good few lengths. Her daughter, lot 172, is selling and by Shantou, the sire of another fantastic racemare in Airlie Beach, so she has the genetic ingredients to go all the way.

All eyes will be on One Track Mind’s full-sister, lot 64. I know One Track Mind well and had the pleasure of presenting connections with the trophy when he won the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown last year.

Lot 189 has a seriously punchy page: a Leading Light colt foal out of Princess Leya, a three-time winner who was also Graded-placed on a few occasions, along with being a half-sister to none other than Altior.

As I said though, there are many more highlights.

You breed horses yourself - can you tell us about your stock?

I bought Maybe Grace from Tally-Ho Stud as a yearling at the Orby Sale, had lots of fun with her on the track and she’s had four foals since. Two from three of her runners are winners; Stormy Alexis is one of Matt Schera’s large string in the States, winning just shy of €100,000, and Damaraland has had three starts for Dean Kannemeyer down in South Africa, winning on her debut this year.

Sophie Buckley bought the Guitaifan filly foal at the November Sale, so that will set her off to a good start, and she’s in foal to New Bay.

Lola Beaux is the one I daydream about though. I owned her with Carmel Acheson, she was really well bought by the BBA, and I adored her but Jessica Harrington did too good a job of training her, winning and getting her Group-placed as a juvenile, so we had to accept an offer from the US. I often wonder what if . . .

You were familiar to many for your work with Ladbrokes - what odds would you give us on the following eventualities? First, you breeding a Classic winner?

10-11. I’m an optimist. It would be shorter, only that winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with a filly takes precedence.

You ever being tempted to do some auctioneering on the Goffs rostrum?

100,000-1, which is a bigger price than the odds of the Loch Ness monster being found.

Frankel siring a Classic winner in 2018?

Around 8-1 perhaps. Nelson is about 25-1 for the Derby and Elarqam is around 12-1 for the 2,000 Guineas. I love him actually, Mark Johnston said he is the image of his mother, the dual Guineas heroine Attraction, and I think he still has some growing up to do. Then you have to factor in something coming out from the woodwork so it would definitely be in the single figures. And if 2018 doesn’t produce a Frankel Classic winner in Europe, maybe 2019 will, when this year’s Orby top lot comes of Classic age.

A Brexit deal that is satisfactory to breeders in Britain, Ireland and mainland Europe being struck?

3-1 because everybody wants the same thing in this respect, unlike many other elements of Brexit, so one would hope that the policy makers approach this with common sense. As I said, I’m an optimist!


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The average age of a Bentley owner is 35. I think that end of the luxury market has a lot of potential
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