Sean Brady warns Shelbourne Park ‘blockade’ could cost 170 jobs

Shelbourne Park continues to be deprived of racing, as news of the sale of Harold’s Cross, and unconfirmed rumours that an industry currently in debt to the tune of more than €20m could be set to continue debt-free, has failed to raise the spirits of protestors, who mourn the loss of an historic stadium and despise the manner in which it was whipped from under their feet.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the IGB’s interim CEO Dr Sean Brady said the sale of Harold’s Cross “gives rise to a once in a lifetime opportunity for the sector to look forward without crippling debt which had been a feature of the Irish Greyhound Board’s operation for many years”.

But, he warned that the continued “blockade on racing” at Shelbourne Park could cost 170 jobs, and has called on “those behind a protest which has forced the closure of Shelbourne Park since early-February to engage in meaningful dialogue before the Irish greyhound industry is damaged beyond repair.”

The statement quoted losses in revenue of €300,000, losses “which, if continuing, simply cannot be sustained”. The dreaded and unhelpful word ‘legacy’ popped up again as, according to Brady: “The greyhound industry as a whole now has to decide whether to start working together to drive forward or to allow legacy friction to tear the sector apart in sterile and hopeless recrimination and blame.”

But such words are unlikely to allay the concerns of the Dublin Greyhound Owners’ and Breeders’ Association, which continues to be frustrated by the secrecy involved in the sale.

Commenting on the IGB being in front of the Public Accounts Committee, a DGOBA statement, released this week, said: “The admission by our chairman of the board as to a lack of any strategic plan going forward has sent a shiver down the spines of greyhound people around Ireland. It appears we are being led blindly down a path to nowhere.”

They have called on “the Minister to directly intervene and call a halt to all actions of the Board and complete a full review of the closure and sale of Harold’s Cross. We call on politicians from all parties to unearth what exactly is going on in the greyhound industry today,” specifying that “the lack of any strategic plan going forward, the asset stripping sale of Harold’s Cross, the lack of transparency from the board, decisions being made by the department of education and department of agriculture, what appears from the outside to be a complete policy of downsizing our industry, all these things and more need to be addressed.”

The protests are on the move, this time to Carrigaline, in Cork, where they will march to the constituency office of Minister Simon Coveney. The protestors are gathering at 11:30am on Saturday morning, with the intention of having their voices heard.

* The English Derby is on the horizon, and the service provided by Towcester, with video accessibility to trials, and live action streamed through Youtube, continues to impress. With action also live on RPGTV, there is every opportunity to keep up to date with goings on at the track.

On Tuesday night, last year’s Derby final favourite, Sonic, made his competitive debut at the track, in one of six Derby Trial Stakes.

Easy to back, he had to settle for fifth place, but there was plenty to be taken from the performance. After missing the kick, he showed tremendous pace to the turn, where he found trouble. He worked hard to recover the ground, but raced very wide into the homestraight, and the lack of a recent run told as he faded late.

He will need to take a significant step forward in a short period of time, but the ability clearly remains, and it’s probably just a matter of putting it all together.

There was better luck for trainer Graham Holland when Drive On Tipp came from off the pace to snatch victory from fellow Irish raider Cable Bay in their trial stake. The winning time, 29.09, which was the fastest of the night, compares favourably with what has been achieved in competitive action at the track recently.

There were also trials at the track on Tuesday, and Juvenile Derby and Comerford 525 finalist Bull Run Bolt coasted clear to win his three-dog trial in 29.47. Silverhill Conor, who recently posted an 18.67 trial in Limerick, had a bumpy trial with kennel companion Ballinakil Clare, but came out on top, posting 29.52, while Sidarian Pearl led all the way when beating Nitro Notorious by two and three-quarter lengths, in 29.60.

English Derby odds: 10-1 Clares Rocket, 16 Priceless Brandy, Droopys Buick, 20 Dorotas Wildcat, Dorotas Woo Hoo, 25 Bubbly Bluebird, 33 Bull Run Bolt, 40 Drive On Tipp, Bruisers Bullet 50 bar.


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