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Positive reaction to sheikh's Aussie deal; BLOODSTOCK WORLD.

Byline: By Rachel Pagones

INDUSTRY reaction to the biggest bloodstock deal in history, Sheikh Mohammed's purchase of Woodlands Stud, which was revealed this week, has been generally positive from individuals who play the game at an international level.

John McCormack, a Dublin-based bloodstock agent who was speaking from Bahrain, applauded the continuation of a successful history written by Bob Ingham and his late brother Jack, who took overWoodlands in 1985 to build up Australia's largest owner-breeder outfit.

"I think it's a great deal," he said. "The Inghams have been absolutely fantastic for so many years. They've left their legacy, and it's a very good move on the part of the Darley operation.

"For my mind you couldn't pencil in the goodwill for buying an operation like that. If nothing else I'd say it's just very kind, on the part of both Bob Ingham and Darley. It's not that Bob's passion is fading away, but with one brother gone and the other getting older, what will he do with an operation this size?

"It gives Darley a very strong presence - they're buying into history."

The move was typical of the sheikh's pursuit of challenge, said transatlantic consignor Ted Voute from Britain. "Sheikh Mohammed is a very global man and he's got a very global perspective. To keep Woodlands going will be a challenge, but from all I've heard and read about Sheikh Mohammed, it's the challenge that keeps him inspired. Obviously, he's also done it for the future of Dubai, but I think it's a very good thing for the global thoroughbred."

Edmund Mahony, chairman of Tattersalls, the Newmarket auction house that recently invested in one of Australia's largest sales companies, said: "Sheikh Mohammed's purchase of Woodlands Stud is a tremendous endorsement for the Australian racing and breeding industries and is yet another illustration of his global vision. Earlier this year, Tattersalls made a significant investment in William Inglis and Son and it is great to see such a hugely respected figure as Sheikh Mohammed showing similar confidence in the Australian scene."

The transaction is yet more proof that the global perspective is the way of the future, said others. In Kentucky, Keeneland's director of sales Geoffrey Russell said: "My initial thought is it shows the globalisation of the thoroughbred industry. This sure adds a lot more arrows to Sheikh Mohammed's quiver. No mistake, he is a major force in Australia. He also has a major presence in America, Europe and Japan, and Australia was the last major country left."

Thoroughbred Daily News columnist Bill Oppenheim said: "Anybody who has been in Dubai can see Sheikh Mohammed's masterplan is for Dubai to have trade links all over Asia and the Pacific, so this is a massive publicity plus for Dubai. I'll bet he wins a few races down there in the maroon and white, too."

Precise plans for Woodlands will not be known for a while, cautioned John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock adviser, because the transaction must be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) of Australia.

"We're still at the very, very early stages," he said. "The deal is subject to FIRB. That very rarely stops a transaction going through, but any foreign investment in excess of AEUR100 million must go through review.

"The process normally takes 30 days, so until that has been ratified, the sale cannot take place. As a result, we don't want to be making bold statements until everything is in place and we've had a chance to sit down and talk to the highly experienced team at Woodlands."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 26, 2008
Words:594
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