For nearly 16 years, Tom Thornbury has been an integral part of the Keeneland sales team as he has undertaken a broad range of duties in his position of associate director of sales.
During that time, the affable Thornbury—who had a broad range of experience within farm management, equine veterinary care, and training previous to assuming his duties at Keeneland in June of 2002—has earned the respect of colleagues, consignors, and buyers.
Effective with the conclusion of the current January horses of all ages sale, Thornbury will transition from his current role to take on a new part-time role within the organization as a consultant, including assisting with inspection of sale horses.
Thornbury grew up on the farm owned by his father, John Thornbury, and his partner, Dr. Robert Copelan. The younger Thornbury was involved in training and farm management, and assisted in equine orthopedic surgery. Prior to joining Keeneland, he was the yearling manager and later the general manager at Brereton C. Jones' Airdrie Stud.
Among his responsibilities at Keeneland have been serving as liaison with emerging markets, particularly South America, helping with the inspection of potential sale horses, and assisting with placement of horses in the catalog.
"Tom is irreplaceable," said Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales operations. "He is well-regarded by everyone in the industry. He has a wonderful personality that is welcoming to everybody."
"It is hard to replace somebody like Tom Thornbury," said Bob Elliston, vice president of racing and sales at Keeneland. "He knows people from all over the world in terms of our international clients. And he knows conformation and the best qualities we need in terms of finding the best horses for our sales. We are fortunate Tom will continue to have a role on the inspection team."
"My time at Keeneland has allowed me to travel to many countries to develop business relationships," Thornbury said. "As a result, I have made many friends worldwide, some of whom are more like family. That has truly been a blessing to me."
Rather than replace Thornbury, Keeneland will reassign his responsibilities to others within the organization and will expand its sales staff.
"We are going to ask other team members to step up in the sales administration space and we're looking to bring on some talent to help us in the recruiting as well," Elliston said.
Elliston said Keeneland has not determined how many new personnel will be hired within the sales operation.
"We want exceptional people who fit with our culture and have ane energy and enthsuaism to represent this place the way you should for the largest auction house in the world," the executive said.
According to Keeneland, the "ideal candidate will have at least 3-5 years experience in breeding, public sales, or racing industry coupled with a service orientation toward customer service relations and a drive toward successful outcomes for our clients."
Among other attributes, "the individual will possess interpersonal and communication skills necessary to represent Keeneland domestically, and internationally before a diverse customer base of breeders, buyers, and consignors operating in the world's largest auction marketplace."