LITHGOW Panther will be aiming to affirm his status as one of NSW’s best stayers when he tackles a heat of the Group 3 Chairman’s Cup (720 metres) at Wentworth Park on Saturday night.
Trained by John Chapman, the son of Mildean Panther and Mrs. Trickett will jump from box three in heat two against a talented line-up including AWM Distance Championship winner Mepunga Tiara (box one), star Queensland half-miler Mullaway (box two), up-and-coming youngster Lord Golec (box six) and top Tassie chaser Lillycette (box eight).
Lithgow Panther ($3.00 with Bet365) comes into the series fresh off his career best 42.12 win at headquarters on August 22, with Chapman expecting a forward showing from his charge this week.
“He has raced most of the NSW dogs in this week’s heat in the past, and I am expecting him to step up and fire – he has had a bit of a freshen up and a couple of short trials – so I think he will race really well,” Chapman told Australian Racing Greyhound.
A winner of 16 from 41, Lithgow Panther has always shown the makings of a quality greyhound, although Chapman admits it has taken him longer to adapt to the staying caper than originally expected.
“I knew from the first day I trialled him that he was going to be a top dog, I just didn’t know what distance that would be over,” Chapman said.
“He is the second fastest dog to have ever sprinted at Richmond, he ran 30.13 over the 535.
“To be honest I was expecting him to step up a bit better than what he has, but it has just taken him a bit of time to make the transition from sprinting to staying.
“He is starting to put it all together now and I think people will see the best of him over the next six months.”
Chapman says that his black speed machine will only need a bit of luck to find the fence, a spot which he relishes during his races.
“The best position he can ever find is the fence – as soon as he finds the fence and a gap he really takes off – it doesn’t matter if its in the first 200 or the last 200.
“I think he can break the 42 – he will definitely do it one day when he comes out better – hopefully he can do it within the next couple of weeks.”
Box three appears poised to take out both Chairman’s Cup qualifiers, with champion bitch Sweet It Is set to exit wearing white in the first heat. It will her first start in the Harbour City since lowering the Wentworth Park track record to 41.52 in the Group 1 National Distance Championship on August 22, and she will take a power of beating again this week.
A six time Group 1 winner, Sweet It Is ($1.35 with Bet365) is currently racing in career best form, taking out nine of her past 10 starts for trainer Braden Finn. A win on Saturday would tip her career earnings to over $990,000 – with a final victory making her the first greyhound to exceed the $1M mark.
Her main rival will be Zipping Maggie (box eight), last year’s Chairman’s Cup winner which has won two of her past four starts over the staying trip at Sandown Park and The Meadows and is the only other runner under double figures at $6.50. NSW hopefuls Ada Mary (box seven) and Raramuri ($10 and $16 respectively) are yet to prove themselves at the top level, but are capable of sneaking into the placings and next Saturday’s $25,000 to the winner decider.
The two heats of the Group 3 Chairman’s Cup are races five and six at Wentworth Park this Saturday night, with the first four from each event set to qualify for the following week’s final.
Heat One tips: 3. Sweet It Is
8. Zipping Maggie
7. Ada Mary
Heat Two tips: 3. Lithgow Panther
6. Lord Golec
1. Mepunga Tiara