'We've had some relief with sales companies offering more clarity on dates'
John Cullinan gives us the view of a breeze-up vendor in trying times
With the coronavirus pandemic still seemingly gathering pace, it is important to make clear that racing and sales pale into insignificance next to the loss of lives and hard times so many people are enduring right now.
No one in the breeze-up community would want to be seen as whinging and moaning at times like these; there are bigger things going on.
And in fact not much has changed since my first update last week. The lockdown imposed by the Irish government hasn't made a lot of difference to me, or I dare say my fellow consignors, as care for the horses has to continue and social distancing is easy to do in the open air.
Furthermore, those who work with horses are well versed in strict hygiene practices and biosecurity due to protecting against equine viruses all year round.
We have had some relief with sales companies offering more clarity on the calendar in the coming months. It might not seem like it, but even just ruling out certain dates is helpful as we at least know we can back off with some of the horses and schedule their preparation better.
It seems as though there won't be any sales until racing resumes now, and so it was a small ray of light to see the BHA talk of hoping to get back up and running in some form in May, with the idea of racing on a regional basis a positive idea.
Really, racing has to be back on before the breeze-ups can be held, as we need the engagement from America, Hong Kong and the Middle East, who have been so crucial in supporting the market.
There has been a lot of work done behind the scenes between sales companies and consignors to get a much increased presence for the breeze-up horses online while we're in lockdown, and people will be able to see footage of the horses being shown in hand and also cantering.
I'm not so sure about the idea of selling the horses in online auctions, but then I'm a technophobe! I'll be sure to watch how the digital Inglis Easter yearling sale goes in Australia next week, nevertheless.
Speaking to other breeze-up consignors, there is of course terrific concern at the moment as the financial stakes are so high. But I think the initial phase of alarm has receded a little and everyone has accepted the situation of the sales calendar having to be deferred.
What frustrates us all is that this has happened just as we were on an upward curve. The message is getting through to buyers that there are lots of quality horses to be bought at breeze-up sales and the graduates were flying on the track.
But when racing resumes we look forward to maintaining that momentum, with the likes of A'Ali, Kenzai Warrior and Summer Sands just a few of the breeze-up graduates who could play a starring role in the delayed season.
Read our Life in Lockdown Q&As with industry figures