These are nervous times for thoroughbred breeders and vendors as some doubt has been cast on when and where sales will be staged in the coming months.

Government fears over the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 almost scuppered the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale last week. Close to 50 British buyers had travelled to Co Meath for the sale and were in their hotels the night before selling began when they were informed they would not be allowed attend the sale in person.

The buyers had travelled on the understanding they would restrict their movements to within a ‘British bubble’ – a system which had worked well at the Goffs Land Rover Sale two weeks earlier. This meant the arrivals would not have to strictly quarantine for five days, as they were here on essential business. However, this exemption was revoked on the night before the sale, which was devastating news for all concerned.

Fortunately, most of the key British buyers had already inspected all 400 horses being offered for sale and were able to bid from their hotel. Others returned immediately to Britain and bid from home – not an ideal scenario and not one you would care to repeat.

The sale itself was a remarkable success. Over €16m was spent on 300 horses, resulting in a record average price of €54,000. However, a day after the sale concluded, Tattersalls Ireland announced that it would postpone its two-day sale planned for July due to the difficulty in bringing over British buyers.

New dates were selected in August, but nobody can be certain if the Covid-19 situation will have improved by then. Looking further ahead, both Goffs and Tattersalls are due to stage critical flat yearling sales in September. The vendors sending horses to these sales want to know now if international buyers will be present. If not, vendors want the opportunity to switch these horses to British sales venues, as happened last year.

Tricky time for all concerned. One would hope that, with the vaccination rollout going so well, the Government will relax restrictions on international travel by August at the latest.

New sales dates

• 10 August: Tattersalls Ireland May Store Sale

• 11 August: Tattersalls Ireland July Store Sale

• 12 August: Tattersalls Ireland August NH Sale (no change)