Dave was somewhat forced into training, after struggling with his weight as a jockey. He believed he had two options - 1) to become a taxi driver or 2) work behind a bar. Fate however had other ideas.
Veteran trainer Clarrie Davis, father of Dave’s late wife, Marie, was gravely ill and a young Dave O’Sullivan found himself helping around the stable and, before he know it, becoming a horse trainer! Little did he realise, he would go on to be a 12 time champion trainer, train some of the greatest horses to grace New Zealand turfs and be inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.
Wexford Stables began with Dave in 1961. It was decided the stable would be named after Dave’s ancestral home in Wexford, Ireland. It wasn’t for another 3 years that it was in fact confirmed that they were from Waterford, however Dave felt it was a little late to change the name!
Dave's first few racedays as a horse trainer were not what you'd refer to as 'smooth sailing!' His opening raceday was fittingly at Matamata Racing Club in 1961. He had one starter, Poetic Justice. Before the race could start, Poetic Justice proceeded to crawl out from the front of his stall at the start barrier... scratched!
Dave's second raceday as a trainer was at Racing Tauranga. He was confident that his first runner, Abilene, would be his first winner. The horse jumped well, was travelling handily and heading for home well in front. As the field straightened Abilene ran across the track, ran though the outside fence and tragically dropped dead. Moments later, in the second division of the same race, his unfancied mare, Bridal Gown, got up to win by a nose. Dave's third horse lined up in the last of the day and also crossed the winning post in first place. One distraught owner, two happy owners and one trainer in desperate need of 'a stiff gin!'
Dave initially discouraged Paul from getting into training, wanting him instead to go to university and study accountancy. Paul however had other ideas. He joined his father in 1981 and over the next 17 years, they achieved what most training partnerships can only dream of. They won every major race on the New Zealand racing calendar, various group 1s in Australia, including the Cox Plate and the Japan Cup, which at the time was the world’s richest race.
In 2004, Paul became the first New Zealand trainer to land a contract with the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Paul had enjoyed somewhat of a leg-up in his training career, however this would force him to start from the bottom in the toughest racing scene in the world. Paul’s determination and horsemanship skills shone through and over the past 15 years, Paul has enjoyed many successes in Hong Hong and abroad.
The departure of Paul however left a huge hole for Wexford - who would take over the champion stable? Following his retirement from raceday riding in 2003, Lance found himself longing for more excitement in his life and felt he was too young to retire. The adrenaline rush he got from winning races was addictive and something he was not ready to let go of just yet. Despite previously stating he would never train, Lance took over the reins at Wexford. Lance admits that he in fact gets a greater rush from watching the horses he’s trained win, compared to riding a winner, after gaining a greater appreciation of the work that goes into getting a horse to the races.
Andrew Scott joined Lance in partnership in 2006, following working under Mike Moroney at Ballymore Stables for just over 15 years. Andrew continued as the sole trainer for the Wexford operation when Lance stepped back in 2009, and his successes continued with the headline acts My Keepsake in the Queensland Oaks and Miss Raggedy Ann in the Railway Stakes. He has since taken his tally in 15 years of training past 500 wins and is once again in partnership with Lance O’Sullivan.
Today, Lance and Andrew are at the helm of the Wexford ship, with Dave always close by to give his opinion, so long as it doesn’t interfere with his golf and fishing (his words!) Paul is still training in Hong Kong and speaks to Lance everyday without fail.
In 2003, Lance was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to thoroughbred racing. In 2006, he was part of the inaugural class inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame and in 2016 was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. Dave was inducted in the New Zealand Racing Hall of fame in 2006 and the O’Sullivan Family gained New Zealand Racing’s highest honor when awarded the Racing Excellence Award. Lance also achieved this award on his own bat some few years later.