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By Andrew Scutts Bloodstock editor | 08 Apr 2024 |

Gaurav Rampal

Tattersalls' Indian representative steps up yo the Racing Post Bloodstock Q&A plate

Tell us where your interest in bloodstock and racing comes from, was it from childhood via parental connection, or was it just something you developed an interest in yourself?

I'm one of the fortunate ones who has been able to make a career out of a passion. There was no parental connection at all, in fact my parents have never been to a racecourse. I started riding horses in a boarding school at the age of six and that’s where I was bitten by the horse bug. After completing my Masters in Business Administration, I pursued this field and in between had a stint as a banker.

Who did you gain experience with before establishing your own enterprise?

My initial experience was at one of India’s leading farms, the Poonawalla Stud farm. I worked there for two years as a lad and within administration.

Anthony Stroud had a massive influence in the earlier part of my career in the industry. He was very kind and allowed me to shadow him for a few months in 2006. That was my first taste of Newmarket and I had a great learning experience at the sales, visiting studs, gallops, spending time with a few stud managers, looking at stallions and attending races. Anthony patiently answered all my questions. Now, when I look back, I realise I could have been nagging him a bit back then.

I got a bit of experience on the yearlings sales prep side with Ted Voute and he was also very gracious in sharing his knowledge and helping me out.

James Underwood, who passed away last year, was a dear friend. He had ties with India and visited every winter. I spent a lot of time with him at his Cornwall Gardens set-up in London and many a time helped him with his European Racing & Breeding Digest. It was a mammoth task to convince him to go digital with his digest and I was able to set that up for him. I learnt a bit from his knowledgeable, cheeky and controversial personality. He was very kind to recommend me to a few big Indian players whom he had known for a long time.

What services do you provide and would you say you specialise in any particular area?

Along with a close-knit team, I cover all aspects of bloodstock trade, consultancy and management, with emphasis on yearlings, broodmares and stallion prospects.

You also act as an auctioneer and shipping agent – tell us about those aspects of your professional life . . .

Shipping is part of the purchase and import process, so the client doesn’t have to ring anyone else for this service. I'm a one-stop solution provider. Kevin Needham of BBA Shipping has been shipping for us from Europe and over the years we’ve developed a great rapport with his team.

Auctioning happened by chance and my wife calls me an “accidental auctioneer”. There was an opportunity and Zeyn Mirza [managing director at United Racing & Bloodstock Breeders Ltd] suggested I give it a try. I have also auctioned art and cricket players. I love the competitive format and the social atmosphere. I really enjoy it, even though it comes with its fair share of challenges. There are times when I have interest on the buying side as well and I'm super cautious then to avoid having fingers being pointed at me due to a conflict of interest. It’s very interesting – two decades in the bloodstock business has taught me more about people than horses.

You’re based in Mumbai but how often are you overseas and what are your regular sales haunts around the world?

Overseas travel happens five or six times a year. Regular sales haunts are Tattersalls, Goffs and Arqana. I have purchased at Keeneland as well and made a few short trips for inspecting stallion prospects.

What does your role as Indian representative for Tattersalls involve?

In the last few years, the majority of mares imported to India have been Tattersalls purchases. To be representing the oldest auction house in the world is an honour and my role will be to strengthen the business ties between Tattersalls and Indian breeders.

Is it fair to say the December Mares Sale is the key one for you and Indian owners and breeders?  

Yes. In fact, this year’s Indian Derby and Oaks winners, Enabler and Jendayi, are both out of mares purchased at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale.

How would you summarise the current health of the racing and breeding industries in India?

Like many other nations, we are in a tough spot with this industry. Our foal crop has massively dropped and so have the number of races and racedays. Crowds at the races are dwindling and it’s difficult to spot the younger generation. Recent changes in tax structure have left most of the race clubs bleeding, and balance sheets don’t look healthy. The sport is pretty much surviving on sponsorships by a few big players who have a passion for it or an interest in the breeding business.  

We urgently need to have a credible industry-sponsored think tank addressing issues of marketing the sport to the new socio-economic audience.  

Do you have a favourite racehorse or stallion past or present?

Sea The Stars. He’s special.

I also have to mention the Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. I'm an insignificant micro-share holder in him; nevertheless, he took me on a joyous ride. Many a time our efforts don’t get recognised and it’s a bit deflating. Life has its strange ways. Authentic’s story put me on the front page of The Times Of India as the first Indian to have won the Kentucky Derby.