THIS week’s Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale was dealt a late blow on Tuesday night when the Government withdrew the permission it had granted for a “British bubble” of buyers to bypass the usual quarantine requirements and attend the sale in person.
Approximately 100 people from Britain are understood to have travelled to Ireland for the sale but only a very small number of them will be allowed on-site, having been in Ireland for at least five days and tested negative for Covid-19.
Prominent buyers such as Tom Malone and Anthony Bromley have been instructed to stay in their hotel rooms in Co Meath while the sale gets underway on Wednesday. These visitors can bid remotely but can only leave the hotel to return to the airport for their flight home.
Speaking on Nick Luck’s daily podcast, Simon Kerins of Tattersalls Ireland said: “Just last night at 6pm we were notified by our legal advisors – who had been liasising with the Garda Síochána – that UK purchasers who had come here would not be permitted to come onto the Tattersalls Ireland site.
“It’s been an exhaustive process but public health has been the main factor here. This Delta variant seems to be of serious concern to the Irish Government and that supersedes everything else at the moment. This is what we were told at 6pm on Tuesday – the guards are just following the instructions given by the Department of Health.”
Kerins said how disappointing the news was for all concerned. “People have bought foals to sell as three-year-olds, and there is an expectation that you can run a sale. It’s very disappointing having to tell UK purchasers they cannot come on-site, and to let the vendors know was disheartening, to say the least.”
Anthony Bromley of the Highflyer Bloodstock agency told Nick Luck: “I came over on Sunday night with Tessa [Greatrex] to get ahead of the game. Luckily we had seen every horse in the catalogue before the Irish Government pulled the bubble.
“We now have to bid remotely from the hotel but at least we have seen all the horses and we have our notes.
“I feel for everyone at Tattersalls Ireland and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, who have bent over backwards to do everything right and now have had the rug pulled from under them. They are shell-shocked, as are the vendors. The only people rubbing their hands will be the point-to-point men who can attend the sale. We have been a thorn in their side but when you cannot be there in person it sort of takes the wind out of your sails.”
British-based bloodstock agent Tom Malone posted on social media: "It's with a wounded heart that I can't attend [the Derby Sale] after spending two days viewing the best of horses. The restrictions have changed and the English bubble in no longer applicable."
The Derby Sale started at 10am on Wednesday and concludes on Thursday evening.
Full coverage of the sale will be in The Irish Field each evening and in the paper next weekend.