Dates War Erupts Between European Sale Companies

In a toughly-worded press release issued on Friday, January 17, Tattersalls and Tattersalls (Ireland) chairman Edmond Mahony slammed main rival Goffs for forcing them to reconsider previously announced new sales dates for 2003.

The unusual public row between the two biggest sales companies in Europe started when Irish-based Goffs stated its 2003 Orby and Yearling Sale would take place between September 16-19, the dates set to be occupied by the Tattersalls (Ireland) September Yearling Sale which is held nearby on the outskirts of Dublin.

Tattersalls last year had announced significant alterations to its 2003 Newmarket, England, sale dates. The flagship Houghton Yearling Sale would take place on September 23-24 (a week earlier than normal), the October Yearling Sale would follow a week later (in the traditional Houghton week and a fortnight earlier than normal) meaning that the Goffs Orby Sale, scheduled in its traditional October 7-8 slot, would suddenly be Europe's final significant yearling sale.

It is believed Tattersalls did not consult either rival companies, Goffs and Doncaster, before announcing the sweeping changes in August of 2002.

Matt Mitchell, Goffs' managing director, commented: "While the need to make this decision was forced upon us, it has given us the opportunity to examine many options, and consult many people. The new dates will ensure maximum benefit for our clients, and will strengthen the Goffs competitive position. Having consulted with clients who both sell and buy yearlings annually at Goffs, the clear majority is in favour of Goffs bringing forward the Orby and Challenge Sales."

But Mahony countered: "We are deeply dismayed by this extraordinary decision by Goffs which cannot benefit clients of either company, least of all Irish breeders. Goffs has stated that its decision was 'forced upon them' in response to the changes to our own sales dates in England which we announced a full five months ago in August. This is plainly not the case. In rearranging our sales dates to avoid congestion and to allow four weeks for four different sales, we took painstaking care to avoid clashes with any other sale in the northern hemisphere. Furthermore, we would never have contemplated changes if they had involved clashes with competing sales.

"We are horrified not only that Goffs has chosen to move in on a successful and established Irish Yearling Sale, but also at the utter disregard it has shown for Irish breeders who have made the Tattersalls (Ireland) September Yearling Sale such a success," Mahony said. "It is even more bizarre following a meeting called by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association at which we were advised of Goffs' disquiet at our dates changes. We promptly offered to make mutually acceptable changes in 2004 if the same doubts persisted after the 2003 sales season. The Goffs decision is regrettable at best."

The Tattersalls (Ireland) 2003 September Yearling Sale will now take place between September 23-25, with the Tattersalls Houghton Yearling Sale on October 1-2 and the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale running from October 7-11.

"It is with regret that we are altering our carefully thought out sales dates changes, but having worked hard to establish the Tattersalls (Ireland) September Yearling Sale, we are not prepared to sacrifice its long term future or further jeopardise the interests of Irish breeders."