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Lithgows course to Cup glory

Sean Lithgow jokes that if retired coursing sensation Gotham Queen was human, she’d be one of those people that everyone hates because she’s good at everything.

Gotham Queen was named Victoria’s best coursing female a remarkable three years in succession in 2017/18/19, she won 18 times on the racetrack and now she’s making her mark as a matron, courtesy of her first litter, by Walk Hard.

“She’s been amazing,” Sean Lithgow said of Gotham Queen.

Sean and Mel Lithgow will tackle Saturday night’s Group 2 BFC Ballarat Cup heats with two live chances from Gotham Queen’s initial mating, in brothers Gotham Duke (heat 2) and Dream Wizard (heat 3), both have drawn box one.

“The Duke doesn’t want to be drawn there but Wizard will be happy,” Sean said.

“They lacked a bit of focus early on but they’ve definitely taken the next step.

“If you’d asked me a couple of months ago if they were up to a race like this I would’ve had my doubts but they’ve come on in leaps and bounds, especially Gotham Duke. He’s gone to the next level.”

Gotham Duke tuned up for the Ballarat Cup heats in stunning fashion last Wednesday, clocking 24.87s, less than two lengths outside Shima Shine’s then track record of 24.75s, which was broken later in the meeting by another Cup contender in Pirate Pete (24.70s).

While Lithgow would prefer Gotham Duke drawn wide, he’s the more fancied of the brothers in TAB betting, being marked the $2.90 second elect in the second run-off, behind $2.60 favourite Aussie Secret.

Dream Wizard has won his last four in a row and three from four off the rails alley; however he’s a $7 chance in the third heat, where he faces new record holder Pirate Pete ($2.40) and Great Chaser winner Dr. Tucker ($3.60).

“They’re probably lineball,” said Lithgow.

“Dream Wizard is better drawn but the way Gotham Duke is going, he’s flying.

“The time Gotham Duke ran at Ballarat surprised even us. I was in the catching pen and looked at the clock and was astounded!

“I would’ve loved him out in eight – he’s unbeaten from eight – but he does have a lot of early speed so hopefully he comes out and gets left alone and then he can run his own race.

“Dream Wizard will hug the rail and he’s a lot quicker in his trials than he’s shown in his races so far. If he can bring his trial form he’ll be hard to beat.

“It would be a huge thrill to get one through. It would be the first time we’ve had a runner in a Group race as trainers.

“We’ve done it as owners before but never as trainers and having done everything with them from day one we’d feel like we’ve earned it!”

As is so often the case in greyhound racing, the Lithgows’ success is a family affair, with Sean’s mother Denise, aunty Kerryn, as well as friends Emma Avdulla, the sister of leading Sydney jockey Brenton, and Nicole Riseley also in the ownership group.

“It’s good for Emma because Brenton owns Fernando Hunter, which is flying,” Sean offered.

“Gotham Queen had a second litter to Collision. They’re eleven months old and really look the part. We’re tossing up putting her to Aussie Infrared next but there are so many good sires around. She’s due to come on again soon so we’ll have to make a decision.”

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gerardg
About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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