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THE last few years have not been especially kind to Ireland's Vincent O'Brien, the racehorse breeder-trainer, and his family. The dominance of the Arabs and the liquidation of Classic Thoroughbreds, his quoted bloodstock breeder, have cast a cloud over the once-mighty O'Brien empire.

Soon, though, the O'Brien family should have something to smile about. For that, it has to thank David Lloyd and the world of indoor tennis centres.

Next month, Lloyd will bring his tennis clubs to the stock market. These are 72 per cent owned by Leisure Holdings, described in the prospectus as 'an unlisted Irish company'. But, to quote a racing phrase, Leisure is 'out of' Leading Sires - like Classic Thoroughbreds, a syndicate controlled by O'Brien and his son-in-law, John Magnier.

Leading Sires invested in shares in stallions at Magnier's Coolemore stud in County Tipperary. These included Ahonoora, who sired Doctor Devious, last year's Derby winner, and Caerleon, who fathered Generous, the 1991 Derby winner.

The name change to Leisure came in February 1990 when the men of the turf turned to tennis and backed David Lloyd's venture with pounds 10m. The flotation should net them pounds 30m. Magnier, who has a 20 per cent stake in Leisure, stands to pick up pounds 6m.

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