By Phil Weir
Healesville Greyhound Association Manager Cynthia O’Brien was presented with the Greyhound Racing Victoria Board Leadership Award at Sunday’s Victorian Greyhound Awards.
Cynthia gained her owner/trainer/public trainer and breeder licence in 1975 and has been a driving force in the industry ever since.
Born in Wangaratta, she was clearly a very keen sportsperson, spending much of her time playing netball and tennis.
While greyhounds have always been in the background, she has also worked in administration for the Department of Education, Forestry Commission Victoria and Victoria Police.
In 2003 she started her greyhound administration career at the Healesville Greyhound Association and went on to be the CEO of Canberra Greyhounds and Manager at Shepparton. She returned to Healesville in 2012.
Cynthia is always keen to learn and upskill, working with Australian & New Zealand Greyhound Association and the National Coursing Association and Greyhound Clubs Australia committees. She also has Life Membership at the Healesville GA.
Reflecting on what gets her out of bed every morning, Cynthia is adamant.
“A passion for the sport,” she said. “A passion to add new ideas to the industry and to be involved in decisions that will provide better racing opportunities for people and their dogs.”
Cynthia secured SKY Chanel coverage for greyhound racing and a Cup Carnival racing event at Canberra, introduced racing Carnivals at Healesville including the National Straight Track Championship in 2019, which included interstate clubs Capalaba & Murray Bridge.
As a founder of the ‘Women On Track’ event at Healesville, Cynthia is proud of the way women are represented in the sport.
“We’ve got two female (club) managers in Victoria, plus the Chair of the Board. Women are just as important as men in this industry. We’ve got a lot to say, as many men will attest, and we’re being listened to now, which is really positive for the sport.”
Getting people back to the track, especially the picturesque Healesville venue, is high on her wish-list.
“The last two years we’ve had these really big events and nobody on track,” she said.
“During the recent (inaugural) Healesville Festival of Racing, we had 10 weeks of new ideas. I think it’s a little way off yet, but I can’t wait to have people back at the track.”
The Festival including the introduction of brand new races such as The Arrow match racing concept, Highway 31 Maiden Challenge and the Healesville Members Trophy.
Cynthia also played a role in the development of the new straight track in Richmond (NSW), which opened in 2021.
The GRV Board Leadership Award is open to people who meet any two of the following criteria:
– Volunteered at a GRV club, event or activation in a community engagement aspect; – Engaged in the promotion of greyhound racing, breeding, education, owning, training and adopting
– Shown exemplary leadership values and attributes in the promotion of the Greyhound Racing industry in Victoria.
– Supported community engagement initiatives of GRV.
– Supported the promotion of equality initiatives of GRV.
– Supported the development of females in the Greyhound Racing industry.
– Shown a commitment or demonstrate a commitment to greyhounds and the welfare of greyhounds within the community.