Lithgow Eyes ‘Dream’ Ballarat Cup Berth

TAKE it as read that there’s no one looking more forward to Saturday night’s red hot Group 2 Ballarat Cup heats than trainer Mel Lithgow.

Adam Dobbin

3 December 2020

TAKE it as read that there’s no one looking more forward to Saturday night’s Group 2 Ballarat Cup heats than trainer Mel Lithgow.

And it’s because the Devon Meadows based conditioner is a live chance of qualifying for next week’s $47,000-to-the-winner final with her underrated sprinter Gotham Duke.

“To qualify for a Ballarat Cup with a greyhound we bred and train would be an absolute dream come true,” said Lithgow.

“I must admit it frustrates me that he’s so underrated but that’s the way it is … his record is outstanding.

“At home he gets called lazy because he plods around and doesn’t work hard up the straight. But when he gets to the track it’s the complete opposite, he gives everything he has and just thrives on competition.

“He knows what he’s there for.”

Winner at 13 of his 29 starts, Gotham Duke is a son of Walk Hard and Gotham Queen, the dam a winner of 19 races for Mel and Sean Lithgow.

Bookmakers have installed Gotham Duke a solid $2.60 favourite for heat two of the Ballarat Cup from his box one draw, just ahead of Aussie Secret for Jason Thompson at $2.70.

Next in betting is Bendigo Cup winner Yozo Bale (box eight) at $4.40.

“I would have rather him draw wider but you can’t knock back box one can you?” Lithgow said.

“It was after his 24.57 Sale win recently that we started to think about the Ballarat Cup and after he ran 24.87 at Ballarat last week that really made up our mind.

“He’s a lot more mature now and you can see it in his racing.” 

In what looms as a big night for Team Lithgow, Mel’s husband Sean puts the polish on Dream Wizard in a red hot three, the 12-time winner stepping out from box one up against greyhounds the caliber of Pirate Pete and Dr. Tucker. 

Bookmakers have Dream Wizard quoted a $7.00 chance behind Pirate Pete at $2.05 and Dr. Tucker at $3.70.

“We are a team but at home Duke’s mine and the Wizard is Seans,” Lithgow said.

“We often joke about which one is the better. I think we’ve agreed that the Wizard is stronger but Duke is faster. But that can change. They’re both going great and that’s the main thing.”

Only adding to the anticipation heading into Saturday night is the ownership group of family and friends which race the two hugely talented litter brothers.

“They raced Gotham Queen as well which has been great,” Lithgow said.

“She won 19 races and was coursing greyhound of the year three times … she’s very special to us.

“She lives the life of luxury on the lounge at home and her second litter of nine to Collision are now nine months old so there’s a lot to look forward to.”

Lithgow admits that the idea of a Ballarat Cup berth with the star duo would be the reward for years of hard work.

“All the hard yards you put in is to hopefully breed and win a group race and if we could next week it would cap off a big 10 years in the industry for us,” Lithgow said.

“The first greyhound we raced, Burnt Fuse, made the Hobart Thousand Final in 2009 which is our biggest thrill so far.

“We’re very proud of how these two boys are coming along and they’re only just 2 ½ years of age so the best is still ahead.

“Starting with Saturday night hopefully.”