Reports that the Irish Government is considering placing restrictions on people arriving from Britain could affect both the Irish Derby meeting at the Curragh and the important Derby Sale at Tattersalls Ireland next week.

It is understood that up to 80 British buyers attended last week’s Goffs Land Rover Sale and they certainly made their presence felt. The three-day sale (up from two days last year) produced a record average price of €38,771 and a record median price of €33,000.

Highflyer Bloodstock bought 45 horses for its British clients, with all three of the agency’s directors – David Minton, Anthony Bromley and Tessa Greatrex – very prominent on the ground and around the sales ring.

All the visitors stayed in a British bubble in a local hotel, though they did not have to quarantine, and there was plenty of evidence at the sales complex of Covid-19 protocols being applied.

It would be very unfortunate if quarantine rules were reintroduced ahead of the Derby Sale as it would undoubtedly prove too much of a barrier for a lot of British buyers.

Quality horses

Yes, they can see videos of the horses and ask local contacts to carry out inspections on their behalf, as they bid online, but the British will buy more horses if they are on-site. David Minton told me three of Highflyer’s biggest clients doubled their orders at the Land Rover Sale once they had first-hand information on the quality of horses available.

The Derby Sale takes place on Wednesday and Thursday, 23-24 June, with viewing of the 400 horses on offer in full swing on the previous two days.

Just 70km from the Tattersalls sales complex in Ratoath, Co Meath, the three-day Irish Derby meeting kicks off at the Curragh on Friday, 25 June. The Derby itself has struggled to attract overseas runners in recent years, most likely due to the perceived dominance of Aidan O’Brien’s yard.

It was understandable that no British horses ran in the Derby last year, given the difficulties at the time, but – following a couple of British winners at the Punchestown Festival – it is hoped there will be a smattering of overseas runners at the Derby Festival this time round.

However, trainers will be reluctant to travel highly-strung and very valuable racehorses if it means handing them over to Irish staff at the port, due to new restrictions on movement.