Edmond Mahony, Chairman of Tattersalls
Founded in 1766 by Richard Tattersall, Tattersalls is the oldest bloodstock auctioneers in the world and the largest in Europe. Today, Tattersalls is an international firm offering 10,000 thoroughbred horses each year at 15 sales at either its Newmarket headquarters in England, or at Fairyhouse outside Dublin, in Ireland. Edmond Mahony has been Chairman of “Tatts” as it is affectionately known for 21 years and talks to The Gaitpost about the forthcoming sales and what changes he has seen in the exciting world of bloodstock sales.
The 9 sales that Tattersalls holds each year at Newmarket include market leaders in every category. Book 1 of the October Yearling Sale is Europe’s premier yearling sale with more than 700 yearlings and unrivalled as a source of European Classic and Group winners. In the past decade there have been four Derby winners sold at the October Yearling Sale and all yearlings offered in Book 1 are eligible for the Tattersalls Millions, Europe’s most extensive sales race series. Books 2 & 3 of the October Yearling Sale follows 4 days later followed by the Autumn Horses in Training Sale, the largest sale of its kind in the world. The Tattersalls sales season culminates with the two week long December Sale of breeding stock, foals, and yearlings, which is widely regarded as the world ‘s most international thoroughbred sale.
Mahony is Master of the Louth Foxhounds and competes in hunter show classes in his spare time. He has won the amateur Championship at Royal Windsor and the Royal International, and also the heavyweight Hunter Champion at the Royal Dublin Show.
Why are these 2 weeks so important to racing?
These 2 weeks see the annual October Yearling Sales held here at Tattersalls Park Paddocks where almost 2,000 yearlings will go under the hammer. Many of the champions of tomorrow will be sold here at Tattersalls. Three classic winners in 2014 were sold at these same sales in 2012, being AUSTRALIA (winner of the Derby), NIGHT OF THUNDER (winner of the 2000 Guineas) and KINGSTON HILL (winner of the St. Leger).
What were the highlights of the Book 1 sales?
We had a Galileo colt sell for 2.6m guineas, which is the highest price for a yearling in the world so far this year, and new Book 1 records were set for turnover, average and median. The turnover, which fell narrowly short of 80m guineas was also the highest turnover for a sale in European auction history.
What changes have you seen over the years in terms of new buyers (from new countries) and repeat business and have you seen any changes in the breeding/type of racehorses?
I first started working for Tattersalls in 1981 when the sales were largely dominated by domestic buyers such as Lady Beaverbrook. At about this time HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum started to develop their interests in racing and bloodstock, and they and their families have brought huge interest from the Middle East to British racing. We now have the Al Thani family from Qatar who are also significantly developing their racing activities in Europe. Buyers have become increasingly focused on horses with good conformation as well as pedigree, and there is a marked trend towards breeding sharper, earlier precocious types which run at 2 years old, rather than the staying types which take longer to mature.
What is the most memorable horse that you have personally auctioned? Any why?
The most memorable horse I have personally sold is probably the yearling colt by SADLER’S WELLS ex DARARA which made 3.4 million guineas in 2000. It was memorable because at the time it was a European record for a yearling sold at public auction.
What advice would you give to someone who has never been to Tattersalls before but was interested in buying a racehorse?
My advice would be to contact a reputable Bloodstock Agent and/or Trainer and ask them to help introduce you to the concept of buying thoroughbreds at public auction. I would also always advise that you have any potential purchase thoroughly vetted prior to purchase.
What or who inspires you within the equestrian world? Past and present.
As a child, watching international showjumping in the late 60’s and early 70’s was a great inspiration to me – particularly watching Peter Robeson and the great American riders such as Bill Steinkraus. Nowadays I think there are some wonderful National Hunt jockeys who are also great horsemen, such as Tony McCoy, Paul Carberry and Barry Geraghty to name but a few.
Do you have a favourite equestrian possession?
Yes, my hunt coat from Bernard Weatherill.
Is there an all time favourite yard/stables/auction that you’ve been to? And why?
An easy one to answer: Tattersalls Park Paddocks, Newmarket. It is situated right in the centre of Newmarket and is a historic site with monuments such as the famous Knightsbridge Arch and the Georgian Rotunda with the fox, which was the first auctioneers’ podium which stood for many years on the corner of Hyde Park. The individual yards within Park Paddocks all have histories of their own having previously been occupied by trainers in the town.
Which country in your opinion does equestrian best? And why?
I think there is no substitute for what we do here in the UK and Ireland. There is a huge variety of equestrian sports which are all followed by an enthusiastic fan base and conducted to excellent standards at every level.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I don’t have any particular thoughts or wishes in regard to my own personal legacy, but would like Tattersalls to continue to flourish when I am gone. It was a family firm and has always had the ethos and standards of such, and I hope that these will be maintained.
It has always been a company that serves its clients to the utmost of its ability and has at all times taken a very active role in the community of Newmarket. Tattersalls has developed and diversified over the years and I would like to see this continue in years to come.
Our most recent development is our association with Horsezone.co.uk, which is a new and innovative online equestrian sales site. The site has gone live in recent weeks and will be formally press launched here at Tattersalls next month.
The Horsezone team will be present at Olympia in December and is excited to be sponsoring the Santa Stakes on December 18th.
Do you have an equestrian hero?
It would have to be my great friend and colleague, the late George Mernagh. George was the Managing Director of Tattersalls Ireland from 2007 and died in July 2011 after a long battle with cancer. He was a great horseman, having been a successful jumps jockey and a senior judge of hunters. George was also passionate about eventing and developing young Irish equestrian talent, and was fundamental in the creation of the Tattersalls Ireland International Horse Trials, which has gone on to become Ireland’s premier three-day event. Another hero would be George H. Morris, a great horseman, and I love his book Hunter Seat Equitation, a must read for anyone who wants to ride to any level.
What is the quality that you most like in a horse?
Good temperament, every time.
If you hadn’t worked with horses, what do you think you would have been doing?
Possibly a farmer.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given? Who gave it to you?
“Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut”. This advice was given to me by Sir Peter Nugent in the year I joined Tattersalls.
What would be your message to the equestrian world?
My message would be to enjoy what you do, as those of us who work with horses are incredibly lucky to work in what is essentially our hobby.
What are your top 5 indispensable pieces of kit, for you or your horse?
My hunt coat as mentioned before.
My Berney saddle.
A hunting crop given to me by my grandfather.
My hunt cap.
My horse’s thermatex rug.
Against The Clock…
Dick Francis or Jilly Cooper?
Hickstead or Olympia?
Sand or Snow?
Tea or G&T?
Bay or grey?
With thanks to Tattersalls.com for the use of the photos.
You can keep up to speed with the October Yearling Sale by visiting to www.tattersalls.com for all the results or by following them on Twitter at @Tattersalls1766
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