Dog chat: End of an era as IGB chief O'Sullivan steps down
This week marks the end of an era in Irish greyhound racing with IGB chairman Dick O'Sullivan stepping down after five years in office. As yet, there is no word from the Department of Agriculture as to the identity of his successor.
O'Sullivan had intimated from the time of his appointment that he would be stepping down in four or five years and he then announced last month that he would opt out in mid-February. Tomorrow will be his last day in office and he leaves with mixed feelings.
"There is no point in denying it. I will miss it but I will also be quite relieved," he said.
"I've had a great five years and have learned a lot, and I think we, as a board, have achieved a lot in that time also."
He is particularly happy that they were able to get the Greyhound Welfare Bill through without too much damage to the industry.
He spent some time last week meeting up with the Chinese delegation, which came to Ireland to examine our greyhound industry. They visited tracks and private breeding and training kennels and saw everything at first hand.
Said O'Sullivan: "I was very impressed with them and this could represent a huge opportunity for our industry. To have a major country come to you and ask you to design and set up tracks in their homeland is hugely positive.
"Basically, they want us to design the tracks, the facilities, the kennels, provide the dogs and set up the control and integrity operation as well as the Tote. If I was 20 years younger, I would love to take on the project".
The other big news is that a team of Australian dogs is being prepared to challenge for the Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby at Shelbourne Park in August.
The team is being put together jointly by leading Victoria handlers Graeme Bate and Robert Britton and includes some of the best trackers in that part of the world. It is also likely that a couple of dogs will be sent over from America by Fr Bryan Dalton.
This week, the big race is the final of the Guinness Trophy at Curraheen Park on Saturday where Chris and John Morrissey's Oakfront Aga is the favourite on the strength of his impressive semi-final success at the weekend.