BARRY O’SULLIVAN has handed in his notice at Crayford and is making a shock move across Kent to Central Park. He is expected to complete the switch at the beginning of September.
He is Crayford’s leading trainer in both winners and numbers in 2018, having sent out 283 winners from 1462 runners before racing there yesterday.
The O’Sullivan family, father Terry beforehand and Barry subsequently, have become part of the fixtures and fittings at Crayford and the trainer admitted it was not a decision he had taken lightly.
“There’s been a lot of thought gone into it,” he said, “but perhaps I’d gone stale at Crayford and this is the new challenge I need.
“I’ve always enjoyed going to Central Park, which I’ll have to get used to calling it as they tell me off when I say Sittingbourne, and the owners I’ve discussed it with have been very supportive.”
O’Sullivan was in the news two weeks ago when he withdrew his remaining runners from a Crayford Saturday evening card after losing a greyhound to injury in a pre-meeting trial and then having another go lame in a race, but said that was not a major part in his decision.
“We have had a bad run with injuries and it definitely gets you down,” he added, “but maybe you just get into a rut too.
“Dad was at the old Crayford and then, after a spell at Catford, came back to the new stadium. I’ve had the licence myself 24 years so it’s definitely a wrench but I just wasn’t getting the same enjoyment as I once did.
“We’ve run the numbers down a little recently but would hope to build them back up to around 50 on the strength. I’ve told Crayford I’ll stay a little beyond the month I have to give them and will look to finish at the end of August.”
Ian Smyth, director of stadia for Ladbrokes Coral, said: “I’m very disappointed to be losing Barry whose family have been a major part of Crayford for so many years.
“I am grateful that he’s going to stay on a couple of weeks longer than his notice period and we will start the process of looking for a replacement straight away.
“It’s not going to be easy in the current climate, but there has been something of a merry-go-round of trainers even between tracks.
“When we appointed Dave Lee at Crayford recently it was with a view to putting us in the comfort zone numbers-wise so that helps, but obviously Barry’s departure will leave a big void all the same.
“I intend to sit down with him shortly to see if there are underlying reasons behind his decision that we can perhaps learn from.”
For Central Park, consultant Barry Stanton, the former long-time Crayford general manager, said: “I’ve known and worked with Barry for many years and once it became known he may be available I didn’t hesitate at the chance of bringing him to Central Park.
“He has a large kennel of greyhounds with a spread of strength that spans all distances and grades and will be a major asset within our training ranks.
“It will also help us, as the home of hurdles racing with the Springbok and Grand National, to introduce graded hurdles with the top two trainers in this field, Barry and Rick Holloway, attached to the track.”
Promoter Roger Cearns added: “I appreciate the proud history Barry and his father Terry before him had with Crayford and what a significant move this will be for him.
“We are delighted, as our race schedule at Central Park continues to expand, to be able to provide the new challenge that Barry is seeking at this stage of his career. His professionalism and vast experience will be an invaluable asset to us.”
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