Former Irish Greyhound Board Chairman Paschal Taggart admits that he would sanction the closure of at least seven or eight tracks if he was still in the job.
The charismatic businessman and self professed ‘lucky general’ was the flamboyant, if often controversial, head of Irish greyhound racing during its golden era of 1995 to 2006, which coincided with the ‘Celtic Tiger’ growth in the Irish economy.
During Taggart’s reign, greyhound racing attendances surpassed horse racing for the first time and tote and betting records were set that were never beaten. He retains a strong interest in ownership with long time friend Laurence Blunt.
Taggart said: “Greyhound racing in Ireland is on its knees. Look around at how many people have dropped out of the game and I can see no rosey future going forward. The way I see it, the only way for Irish greyhound racing to recover would be to lose seven or eight of the smaller tracks.
“I would hate to see it happen. It would be an absolute tragedy to lose any of them, but the saving in administration would give the rest a chance to survive. I look around the tracks currently and there are no racegoers, no bookies and no atmosphere.
“From a personal point of view, I find it particularly frustrating that it is almost impossible to have a bet in Ireland. The bookies won’t lay you. It is part of the enjoyment of ownership.
“If the SKY programme was still going, I would probably look to have runners in England. As it is, I follow RPGTV and think they do a great job. Being able to see your dog run and get a bet on is a minimum for any owner.”