Tim Vigors

Bloodstock agent with vision
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The Independent Online

Timothy Ashmead Vigors, bloodstock agent, pilot and businessman: born Hatfield, Hertfordshire 22 March 1921; four times married (one son, five daughters); died Cambridge 14 November 2003.

The Coolmore Stud in Ireland has become perhaps the most powerful stallion farm in the world, and is home to the world's most successful stallion, Sadler's Wells. The success of Coolmore would not have been possible but for the vision of its former owner Tim Vigors.

Vigors, a veteran of the Battle of Britain, had inherited Coolmore, in Co Tipperary, aged 47 in 1968 from his father and was looking to boost its fortunes by standing the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Rheingold and two American bred horses, Thatch and Home Guard, both trained by the legendary Vincent O'Brien, a friend of Vigors.

At the same time O'Brien and his main owner Robert Sangster were seeking to recruit unraced American bred horses at the sales with the aim of developing their bloodstock values by their performances on the racecourses. Sensing a unique opportunity, Vigors went into partnership with O'Brien and Sangster, putting Coolmore under the managership of John Magnier, who has developed into the most influential figure in the bloodstock world in tandem with Coolmore's rise to the top.

Vigors was eventually bought out of the Coolmore syndicate, but it was typical of him to be involved in the launch of something major, only to move on to a new project. He later worked as manager for the Irish sales company Goffs, where he also acted as an eye-and-ear-catching auctioneer, and formed his own bloodstock agency, which was again bought out and became the British Bloodstock Agency (Ireland).

As an agent, Vigors made several record-breaking sales, paying 37,000 guineas for a yearling in 1966, as well as buying two subsequent Classic winners in Glad Rags and Fleet, who respectively won the 1966 and 1967 1,000 Guineas. Vigors was one of the first people in racing to recognise the sport's international opportunities, something that these days is taken for granted, with racehorses and stallions, and broodmares all shipped routinely from continent to continent.

The bloodstock world was not Vigors's only profession as a civilian - he also set up his own photography agency in Ireland and, in the early 1950s, again showing an uncanny eye for future trends, set up his own private aviation company, which was later bought by CSE Aviation.

After being bought out of Coolmore, Vigors went to live in Spain before returning to Newmarket in the 1980s, where he continued to act as a bloodstock agent and played an instrumental role in establishing the prestigious Cartier Awards for horseracing, which are now in their 13th year.

Richard Griffiths