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Sea The Stars Irish Champion Stakes

Bloodstock marketing groups should capitalise on Sea The Stars' popularity

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

Anglo-Irish marketing would have a lot to offer

SALES-GOERS love to gossip. Factual accuracy has never been of paramount importance as they speculate over everything from a certain bloodstock agent's nocturnal activities to what really happened with a particular transaction or even somebody's eccentric choice of clothing.

But these past few weeks have seen the salacious tittle tattlers go into overdrive and, whether in Newmarket, Deauville and Doncaster, there hasbeen just one topic, Sea The Stars.

A whole host of self-appointed experts seemingly know more than Ling and Christopher Tsui about stud plans for the great horse and – if they are all to believed – he's in for oneheck of a breeding season that will include days in America, Japan, France, Britain and farms all over Ireland covering for a fee ranging anywhere from 40,000 to 200,000 euros.

And - outside our little world - the "£100million horse" has also attracted huge media attention since his retirement, perhaps sadly much so than when he was racing.

He's featured on the BBC's News at 10, all over the tabloids, bookmakers have offered odds on where he will stand, and for how much, and our whole business has been opened up to a much wider audience and – even if the reporting is not totally accurate - we should be grateful for the interest.

We'll find out shortly where Sea TheStars will stand, it will most likely be in Ireland, and we should seize this opportunity to promote what is currently the world's most exciting stallion prospect along with our business.

In fact it presents an excellent opportunity for the Irish and British bloodstock industries to launch a joint marketing drive because - put the two businesses together - and we have a hugely powerful world force.

It's already been done twice this year - the breeze-up and Racing Post Yearling Bonus Schemes have not only united breeders and consignors from both countries but have seen a joint promotion by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) and British Bloodstock Marketing (BBM). It's high time that was taken a step further.

These are transitional times in American breeding and a combined Anglo-Irish industry has a huge deal to offer across the Atlantic.

As Kentucky's household name stallions have disappeared, American's once all-conquering bloodstock industry is no longer the giant it once was. Just two years ago Tattersalls' October Yearling Sale turned over only 47 per cent of the sum that changed hands at Keeneland in September. This year's Newmarket trade was 70 per cent of its Kentucky rival.

Not only are there less European mares enticed to Kentucky but we could turn the process full circle and draw some top Americans mares to our stallions.

As well as having Sea The Stars to draw overseas breeders, a combined Anglo-Irish marketing drive could offer such globally-attractive stallions as Cape Cross, Danehill Dancer, Dansili, Galileo, Montjeu, Oasis Dream and Pivotal, who could all sire a winner on America's artificial surfaces.

Rather than competing against each other in these cash-strapped times, Ireland and Britain's marketing bodies could pool resources to promote what is in many respects already one industry.

Britain's main sales company, Tattersalls, has a division across the Irish Sea while Doncaster is now a subsidiary of the County Kildare-based Goffs.

Six of the top 10 lots in both October Book 1 and Book 2 at Tattersalls came from Ireland as did seven of the 10 dearest yearlings at Doncaster's St Leger Sale in August and, while the Brits don't sell flat stock in Ireland to the same extent, they sold three of the top five foals at Tattersalls Ireland's November National Hunt Sale last year.

Likewise many of our major breeders are represented on both sides of the Irish Sea. Darley and Shadwell operate stallion operations in both countries, while both Khalid Abdullah and Kirsten Rausing have breeding operations in each place.

Similarly there are all sorts of Anglo-Irish partnerships offering yearlings and breeze-up horses each year.

Clearly there will be logistical difficulties in setting up a joint marketing group, not least that the Irish government is keener on supporting its racing industry than its British counterpart, but there should not be insurmountable obstacles preventing a body that could greatly assist racing and breeding in both countries.

It would certainly give those sales gossip something new to talk about.

 

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TOP TEN

STALLION £ TOTAL PRIZE
Galileo £11,597,622
Dark Angel £3,704,206
Dubawi £3,194,696
Frankel £2,708,934
Kodiac £2,231,181
Acclamation £2,090,548
Iffraaj £2,067,853
Sea The Stars £1,923,734
Nathaniel £1,880,694
Invincible Spirit £1,699,882