Prominent English bloodstock agent Joss Collins, whose sale ring purchases included Nureyev and the record-priced Seattle Dancer, died Feb. 8 at age 56.
Collins was taken ill with cancer of the liver after returning home from the Keeneland January sale and died in a hospice at Bury St Edmunds just 10 days after the disease was diagnosed.
For 30 years Collins was the international face of the British Bloodstock Agency, joining the famous company as a flying groom in 1971 and serving as director of sales for 20 years. When the BBA underwent new ownership in 2001, Collins left to establish Blandford Bloodstock.
There is barely a major player on either side of the Atlantic who Collins did not represent at some stage. It was for Robert Sangster, Stavros Niarchos, Danny Schwartz and the Coolmore team that he paid $13.1 million, still a record price for a Thoroughbred at public auction, for Seattle Dancer at the 1985 Keeneland July Sale.
He played a crucial part in building up Niarchos' bloodstock interests and paid $1.3 million on behalf of the late Greek shipping magnate for Nureyev at the 1978 Keeneland July Sale. The son of Northern Dancer, who was disqualified from first place in the 1980 Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, England, went on to be one of the great modern-day stallions.
"Joss was one of those people I rang all the time, and never really realized I did," said the Niarchos family's stud manager, Tim Richardson. "He was an amazing professional and was very much a player in the success of the Niarchos family."
Among a string of other star names he purchased was Southern Halo, Woodman, French Derby winner Caerleon, Two Thousand Guineas winner Mystiko, Beldale Flutter, Committed, Indian Lodge and Rebelline. He also bought the great foundation mare Height Of Fashion privately for Hamdan Al Maktoum's Shadwell Stud from the Queen.
Geoffrey Howson, chairman of Britain's Federation of Bloodstock Agents, said: "He was the professional's professional among his fellow agents and his client base is testimony to the great respect in which he was held throughout the industry."
Collins set up Blandford Bloodstock in partnership with BBA colleague Tom Goff. "It is as if a great light has gone out," said Goff. "Everybody is stunned by the brutal speed with which Joss was cut down by cancer. He was known in every sales ring around the world. He wasn't just a hugely successful, conscientious and dedicated professional man who was an example to all in the industry, he was also a great judge, a guiding light to all the young people he helped on their way and a standard bearer for decency and honesty."