SUNDAY at Naas will see the staging of the €120,000 Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Series Final.
It’s the fourth year of the series and the second sponsored by Foran Equine, a division of Connolly’s Red Mills which specialises in supplements.
We asked Gareth Connolly, sales and marketing director for Connolly’s Red Mills, how the company landed on the 23-race series.
He started with some background information. “We acquired Foran Equine in 2012 and spent a few years understanding the supplements business and seeing how it plugged into what we had already. Connolly’s Red Mills give us access to our core customer base, but supplements are the ‘precision’ side of things.”
By 2016 Foran Equine was ready to be relaunched and rebranded. Having looked around to see how best to spread the word it was decided that race sponsorship was the way to go.
Jane Davis, formerly of Leopardstown, Tipperary and Horse Racing Ireland, was now on board as brand manager at Connolly’s Red Mills. The Red Mills team first met Jane through their Irish Champion Stakes sponsorship and also working at Leopardstown during that time was Nessa Joyce, now manager of the Irish EBF.
“Jane and Nessa had mentioned an auction race series at that time,” Gareth recalls. “And of course the whole EBF board, people like John O’Connor and Joe Foley, deserve huge credit for their foresight in identifying the need for a series of two-year-old races.”
Gareth says the series appealed to them because it hit all the bases – it would be a winner with middle-tier trainers, breeders, syndicates and racecourses all over the country.
“At Connolly’s Red Mills, we actually see ourselves as stakeholders in the industry rather than just another company trying to take what it can. We are always asking ourselves ‘how can we support the industry and give something back?’”
Another reason that this particular sponsorship appealed to Foran Equine was that it would give the company’s technical sales team a chance to talk to owners and trainers about their product range “and to thank our core customers”.
With so much prize money on offer throughout the series, the Foran Equine team knew that the series would be a winner as it was making a meaningful contribution to a sector of the industry that really needed support. “All these things make it work for us,” summed up Gareth. “These owners, breeders and trainers are our lifeblood.”
The success of the Foran Equine series led Connolly’s Red Mills to step in and sponsor a similar series of auction maiden hurdles. “It is very rewarding when you hear about trainers ear-marking these races for their horses. There is a trickledown effect. The sales companies and new owners are plugged into it. It’s all such a positive story.”