IN a shock announcement last week, Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) (Turf Club), is to relinquish his role and take early retirement.
Egan has headed the Turf Club for 20 years, having initially joined the Turf Club in 1995 as a financial controller before taking over as Chief Executive in 2001.
The Turf Club became the IHRB in 2018 and Egan was tasked with overseeing that transition as the CEO of the new body. Egan also represents Irish racing internationally, as a member of the Executive Council of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, a member of the International Harmonisation of Raceday Rules Committee and the European Horserace Scientific Liaison Committee. He is currently chairman of the European Racing Medical Officers Group and the International Conference for the Health Safety and Welfare of Jockeys.
Regarding standing down as Chief Executive, Egan said: “Irish racing has an enviable reputation worldwide, both for its fairness and integrity, and has enjoyed huge success at home and around the world.”
Controversy has swamped the Irish Horseracing Regularity Board in recent times, most notably in the past couple of weeks with claims by the highly respected leading trainer and breeder, Jim Bolger that illegal drug use is the number one problem in Irish racing and that there will be a Lance Armstrong moment for the sport.
Jim Bolger, representatives of the IHRB, Horse Racing Ireland, the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association and the Department of Agriculture have been invited to appear before the Irish Government’s Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to discuss the allegations this week, however Mr Bolger has declined the invitation to appear and give evidence regarding his claims.
Shortcomings in the regulator’s anti-doping regime and a perceived lack of transparency, have dogged the ruling body for years, while there has also been a number of operational failings in relation to starting procedures and the accuracy of race distances.
Egan, on his departure, added: “I would like to thank the members of the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee and particularly the staff of the IHRB for their professionalism and indeed their support down through the years.”
Harry McCalmont, Chairman of the IHRB, said: “Denis has made a huge contribution to our organisation, and indeed to the Irish horseracing industry in general, both at home and abroad. Announcing his decision now allows us to identify his successor in a planned way and we will commence this process soon. While we are sorry to see him leave, we fully respect his decision and would like to wish him well for the future.”