TWENTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD trainer Matthew Lanigan admits he is living the dream after his sensational sprinter Zipping Bruiser won last Thursday’s Group 1 Hobart Thousand (461m).
Beginning well from box six, Zipping Bruiser was able to position himself in third throughout the early stages before powering to the line to score by three-quarters-of-a-length over the fast-finishing Chief Jetpilot (box eight) in 25.98.
Lanigan says the moment his greyhound crossed the line in front was an unbelievable feeling.
“I am over the moon,” Lanigan told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“It was hard to be confident against top dogs, but based on his trial times and where he was drawn we knew that he had a chance.
“I went into a bit of shock after the race and I got a bit emotional. As soon as I saw Ian and Eileen Thomas, who looked after him for us throughout the series, and their daughter Sandy, there were definitely tears.
“Then when I saw Bruiser and my partner Nicole I started to cry again… then dad gave me a hug.
“It was really special to have all my family and friends down there for the race.
“Dreams do come true.”
Based in Victoria, Lanigan has been involved in the industry for most of his life, with his father Gerald a former prolific trainer in the Gippsland region.
Together the pair have owned many handy performers, most notably dual Waterloo Cup-winner Zambora Blueboy, trained by Graham Whitford.
However, earlier this year, Lanigan made the decision to try his hand at training, building several kennels at his Swan Hill residence.
The success was almost immediate, with Lanigan having already trained 15 winners and 11 place-getters from just 33 starters – meaning he has been in the money 78.8 per cent of the time.
Lanigan says greyhound racing has helped him through many tough times in his life, including his struggles with depression, and he is now thrilled to be seeing positive results on the track from all his efforts.
“I was sick again in June and July and my dad kept saying to me ‘we’ve got winners to train’ so I just tried to stay positive and think of the future.
“An experience like this [winning the Hobart Thousand] really makes you realise that getting through those tough times is definitely worth it.
“I am involved in the dogs with my mum, dad and Nicole, so the win was almost like a massive thanks to them as well for sticking by me and helping out through those bad times.”
Now a winner of 11 races from 30 starts with over $104,000 in prize money earnings, Lanigan says Zipping Bruiser will now be aimed at the heats of the Group 3 Devonport Cup before returning home to Victoria.
The black dog trialled in preparation for the $25,000 series on Tuesday night, with the heats set to be run and won over the 452m trip on January 10.