Sign up to the TDN AusNZ daily edition

Receive the latest breeding and racing news, in-depth features, Op-Ed articles by leading industry figures, race results and more!

Aussies Abroad - Tony 'Tubba' Williams

7 min read
TDN AusNZ's Bren O'Brien recently spoke to Tubba Williams, who took up the role as Managing Director of Goffs UK in October 2016. One of the most popular and experienced Australian bloodstock and breeding professionals, Tony tells us how much he is enjoying the challenges of the role, reflects in the differences between the European and Australasian industries and gives his assessment of The Everest.

TDN AusNZ Bren O'Brien: It's almost two years since you took up the job as Managing Director with Goffs UK, what has the experience been like for you?

Tubba Williams: What an opportunity, what a challenge and what a great adventure for me to be here. I don’t mind putting it in that light. It’s a part of my life that I'm seriously enjoying. I'm relishing the challenge and it’s fantastic to be involved here, the history is amazing and the reality is this is where racing started.

I work with a fabulous group of people. Goffs the company itself, I couldn’t speak highly enough of everybody that's involved. We have a team of not only professionals but real industry enthusiasts who are seriously motivated.

BO'B: What has surprised you most about the role?

TW: Possibly the intensity of the marketplace. There are sales being conducted almost every week in UK, Ireland and Europe and it is predominately the same participants. Time management is crucial.

BO'B: And the transition to the UK from a personal perspective, how has that been?

TW: Coming to the UK, I did ask myself, being an outsider, 'how would I be accepted?' The reality has been that it was an advantage to be an outsider and I feel I have been very well accepted by the industry and absolutely love the lifestyle and the entire experience.

Agents are used widely in Europe and depended upon. It is not always practical for buyers or trainers to attend sales and they do rely on a wide range of well-experienced, successful agents, certainly more so than the Southern Hemisphere. - Tubba Williams

Where we live in the Scottish Borders is a beautiful area. The locals have been inviting and accepting which has made life so enjoyable. Logistically we are a long way from our core client base and our sales complex, however the trade-off is it does give an exceptional quality of life. The UK, in general, is a lovely, historic and exciting place.

BO'B: Having worked in senior roles in both Australia and in Europe, what, in your experience, are the main differences in the way the bloodstock industry works between here and there?

TW: There are so many similarities in principal. There are mirrored issues between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Agents are used widely in Europe and depended upon. It is not always practical for buyers or trainers to attend sales and they do rely on a wide range of well-experienced, successful agents, certainly more so than the Southern Hemisphere.

BO'B: You recently conducted the inaugural Goodwood sale, how important is it to come up with new concepts in the current marketplace?

TW: The Goodwood Sale is the latest in a series of five boutique sales Goffs conducts in association with major race meetings. In an evolving market we believe this type of strategically planned sale will become commonplace in the world of horse sales. We proved again with Goodwood that there is an appetite for high-level horses from all areas of the market and our Goodwood sale has begun what we believe will be a great long-term partnership with Goodwood and undoubtedly adds a high-end industry event to a time-honoured racing festival.

The Goffs London Sale on the eve of Royal Ascot has become an exceptional sale over the last five years and has introduced many new people into racing and to experience a high end thoroughbred auction, to cap that experience off it has become the social event to attend in the lead into Royal Ascot, importantly our London sale has given the world an even greater awareness of Goffs as a company.

Additionally, we partner with Aintree at the Grand National festival to conduct a select National Hunt, P2P and form horse sale which has taken all before it with client support and the level of stock that have come through that sale already - i.e. Samcro and three other G1 winners in only three editions of the event.

Goffs UK Goodwood Sale 2018:

BO'B: Working for a company with such a proud and long history, how do you get the balance right between innovation and respecting tradition?

TW: The tradition with the company is integrity first and foremost, service to our clients both vendors and sellers. However, in a changing world and marketplace, we have to be innovative in every way. Technology is changing the face of bloodstock auctions with online auctions and as we experienced with our London and Goodwood, sales information can be provided electronically and allow horses to remain in the confines of their respective racing yards and not interrupt their schedule in respect to racing commitments.

The health of the Australian industry from a financial perspective creates growth, development and importantly a 'let’s have a go' attitude. - Tubba Williams

BO'B: The Australian influence in the global thoroughbred industry appears to be very strong, what do you attribute that to?

TW: There are brilliant industry people in all parts of the world however Australia is the beneficiary of a strong strategic management system especially in NSW which undoubtedly rubs off on the industry as a whole, it doesn’t mean everybody agrees however it does mean that new incentives, projects and funding initiatives continue to develop.

The health of the Australian industry from a financial perspective creates growth, development and importantly a 'let’s have a go' attitude.

BO'B: Is there a sense of camaraderie between the ex-pat Australians who you come across in Europe?

TW: There is always a sense of closeness and familiarity whenever you are with Australians in a foreign land and I'm sure that's the case for any nationality.

The world has become such a small place, all major players in the racing and breeding industry in Australia have a presence in the UK or Europe every year whether that be at sales or racing, I haven’t had a chance to feel a long way from Australia, and with communication in this day and age being so inexpensive and accessible we can be in contact and keep up with the industry not only from an Australian viewpoint but globally.

BO'B: Let's talk about The Everest, how have you seen the impact of that concept on the broader thoroughbred industry?

TW: The Everest has been an outstanding concept which has again highlighted the progressive nature of the Australian industry. The world is taking notice with international starters looking likely this year.

It isn’t the traditional funding method however it is a changing industry that requires left field thought. It will have the best field of sprinters available.

There is nothing more satisfying and exciting than delivering successful sales and working with a great team of enthusiastic, quality people. - Tubba Williams

BO'B: Back to your work at Goffs, what’s the most exciting thing you've got on your agenda in the next 12 months?

TW: Being successful in our business and growing our market share. There is nothing more satisfying and exciting than delivering successful sales and working with a great team of enthusiastic, quality people.

We have three new sales concepts in 2018 – Goodwood, our new 7th December Flat mare and Foal sale at Doncaster, and we will be announcing another exciting concept in the near future, at Goffs we will continue to explore all avenues of expanding our market base, further developing our relationships with our clients and evolving with a changing world.