Tattersalls Ireland gallops back from ‘perfect storm’

International event to attract top riders to Fairyhouse in May


Tattersalls Ireland is gearing up for its busiest two months of 2015, when it will host some of the world’s leading eventing riders at its Fairyhouse venue and hold its main auction of top national hunt horses.

Six of the world’s top 10 ranked eventers, including world number one William Fox-Pitt from Britain, will compete at the five-day Tattersalls International Horse Trials and Country Fair, which will take place at the group’s 200-acre venue in Co Kildare from May 27th.

About 25,000 spectators are expected to attend the horse trials, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and is expected to contribute up to €2 million to the local economy.

Tattersalls Ireland’s managing director, Roger Casey, said the event costs the company about €500,000 to stage and involves about 300 volunteers supplementing the work of its 25 full-time staff over the five days of competition.

Some 350 competitors from 12 countries will participate, including many top Irish riders who will be hoping to impress national selectors as the build- up to the Olympic Games in Rio next year gains momentum.

“Hosting the trials is part of our plan to develop our site for equine excellence,” Mr Casey said, adding that the Fairyhouse venue also hosts qualifiers for the Dublin Horse Show and point-to-point horse racing during the year.

In a bid to maximise the utilisation of its large venue, Tattersalls also hosts a small number of weddings in its country house and organises events such as drive-in movies and pop-up restaurants.

Tattersalls is in the final stages of planning for its flagship sales event, the derby sale on June 24th and 25th. While one of six auctions held during the year, the June sale accounts for about a third of its turnover.

This is the 40th derby sale hosted by Tattersalls in Ireland and Mr Casey expects about 500 top national hunt horses to be sold over the two days for an average of €45,000 each.

Top owners including JP McManus and Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary are expected to be among the buyers.

Tattersalls was badly hit by the recession, its revenue dropping by 70 per cent from a peak of €61.9 million in 2006. “It was the perfect storm due to overproduction [of animals] and the economic crash,” Mr Casey said. “The industry reacted quite quickly and the supply- demand dynamic has inverted.”

Turnover rose by 30 per cent in 2014 to €42.8 million and Mr Casey expects its sales this year to “at least replicate” last year’s performance. He said the business is profitable.