When legendary Victorian breeder John Lenehan purchased his first greyhound in 1978 he could have never imagined that he would still be reaping the rewards nearly four decades later.
Lenehan purchased a pup, which would grow up to race under the name Sydney Gem, for $800. Sydney Gem went on to have a handy racetrack career but in the breeding barn she was phenomenal. The daughter of Lively Band and Monalee Again established a fantastic breeding line that has unearthed many champions of the racetrack and still exists to this day.
Fast forward to Saturday the 28th September 2013 where another descendant of the prolific producer, Gold Town, stamped himself as one of the most consistent chasers in Australia at present, with a dominant victory in the Group 2 Bob Payne Spring Sprint at Wentworth Park.
Some may call it luck how Lenehan started off in the game, others may call it fate. Either way it is a remarkable story.
“I’ve always loved greyhounds. My dad had them when we were children but there were 14 of us in my family and he couldn’t afford to race them. It was like a dollar to race them and two dollars if you won so you couldn’t make much money. He reared them up but never raced them much”, Lenehan explained.
“I always wanted to get into greyhound racing. I bought a farm and I had eight children so I never had much money myself. I put on a $2 quadrella one day at the horses and I won $1000 so I decided to buy a greyhound with it and it turned out to be the best thing I ever did”.
“We’ve had some great dogs over the years. We had Sydney Dingaan that won the Melbourne Cup and a stack of races. She was the first dog inducted into the hall of fame at Warrnambool. Bomber Gleeson won the Shepparton Cup, Warrnambool Cup and the Hobart Thousand and was 3rd in two Australian Cups and 3rd in the Golden Easter Egg in Sydney. We also bred Black Pirate, Wild Pirate, Sheedy and Nashemraro”.
“Sydney Gem was inducted into the hall of fame in Melbourne earlier this year for being an outstanding broodbitch. All of our dogs are still bred down from that one bitch- the first dog I brought 38 years ago”.
Lenehan has predominately bred and reared his greyhounds throughout his involvement within the sport, with his greyhounds being trained by some of the nation’s best. Gold Town is trained by successful Lara conditioner Peter Hunt.
The son of Surf Lorian and Golden Gwen went into the $40,000 to the winner feature on Saturday night well in the market. However, he had to contend with a poor draw in box five.
After a moderate beginning, Gold Town managed to miss the early interference that put the race favourite, Zipping Willow, out of play. The striking black dog parked himself prominently in third position in the run down the back before looming up beside Good Odds John around the side and assuming the lead as the field entered the straight. Gold Town then put the paw to the floor, dashing ahead of his competitors, holding out the fast finishing Xylia Allen by one length in a blistering 29.59s
Lenehan was thrilled with the performance of his classy campaigner
“I thought he would need a lot of luck but it was just his own track sense that got him there. I thought he would have to be out quick, I thought the six (Cracker Jack Lil) would be a lot quicker than him, so it was a great win”.
“It was not until he got to third I thought ‘well he is coming home hard, he’s got a good chance’. But I didn’t really expect him to win”.
Gold Town has now won 19 races with 22 minor placings from 61 race starts. The 32 kilogram chaser has raced competitively at the elite level for quite some time now, with Lenehan believing that he is starting to mature as a race dog in his recent runs.
“He ran 3rd in the Silver Chief in Melbourne earlier in the year where he was slow out of the boxes and got checked. He just missed out on second and he also ran second in the Traralgon Cup
“I was talking to Graeme Bate, it’s his stepson Peter Hunt that trains him, and I reckon he has improved out of sight in his last couple of runs and in the field”.
“Graeme said all along that he’d be a champion if he could only box well. Most times he misses the start and even now he doesn’t get out quick. He is just using his track sense now, he knows where to go”.
“He just seems to have found his way. He will go through fields and not run into other dogs now”.
In the lead up to a busy time of year for Group racing in Victoria, Gold Town has now affirmed himself as a genuine contender for some of the big feature races which are fast approaching. Lenehan is hoping that his powerhouse sprinter will do enough to earn an invitation for the Group 1 Topgun, but is happy to leave the decisions with Hunt.
“We are hoping to get into the Topgun but that’s a select field and only eight go into it. It’s worth $150,000 at The Meadows but I’ll just leave it to the trainer”.
“Graeme said that he (Hunt) has got a great setup and that he does a great job, it’s spotless and clean. Peter knows exactly what to do with them, he trains really well”.