By Peter Quilty
Australian greyhound racing enthusiasts have been privileged to witness a passing parade of staying greats.
Distance racing is a demanding art form – the ultimate test of endurance, courage and stamina. This energy-sapping area of our wonderful sport has been graced with a host of celebrated and evocative names.
However, when the topic of conversation between greyhound connoisseurs turns to distance racing, one of the first names mentioned is inaugural 1973 Victorian Greyhound of the Year, Lizrene.
An ultra-consistent staying star, Lizrene – as beloved by Victorian fans as was Zoom Top in New South Wales – ranks with the all-time distance greats. She also displayed her versatility, finishing third to Gerard The Gent and Shapely Escort in the 1971 Melbourne Cup.
A 25kg brindle bitch, Lizrene (Prince Kua-Joanne Lu) was whelped in April 1970.
Her sire, Prince Kua, had a brief but brilliant race career. He won six races from seven starts, and, although recognised as a sprinter, he equalled Sandown Park 's 718-metre track record (43 7/16ths) in a private trial at his first distance attempt. Shortly after the trial, he sustained a serious injury that prematurely ended a highly promising career.
Prince Kua only served two bitches before he and one of the bitches he mated perished tragically in a kennel fire. This left only the litter out of Joanne Lu to carry on his bloodlines.
The litter, comprising five dogs and four bitches, was bred by S. Brooker and Prince Kua's owner, Peter McGuinness.
Retaining three brindle pups (2 dogs, 1 bitch), McGuinness christened Lizrene as “Cindy”.
Reared by Roma McGuinness, Lizrene was quick to reveal her potential.
After trialling 30 4/16ths over 511 metres at Olympic Park, McGuinness knew he really had something above the ordinary. And Lizrene certainly lived up to McGuinness' high expectations.
Lizrene raced on 97 occasions for 56 wins, 19 seconds and 12 thirds, being only unplaced 10 times.
She won 23 races at Olympic Park and 22 events at Sandown Park (a record she held jointly with former champion stayer Jack until surpassed by father and son African Zulu and Kareem – both on 23 wins).
Her career highlights read:
Winner: Sandown Cup (1972 & 1973); NCA Cup – Olympic Park (1972 & 1973); Sandown Park Distance Championship (1973); Olympic Park Distance Championship (1973); Anniversary Trophy – Newcastle (1973).
Finalist: 3 rd Melbourne Cup (1971); 2 nd Wentworth Park Gold Cup (1972) – beaten a head by Ragsie.
Lizrene's finest hour arrived when she was awarded 1973 Victorian Greyhound of the Year honours. She defeated 1973 Melbourne Cup quinella pair New Mariner and Half Your Luck (1973 Australian Cup winner) to land the coveted title.
Contesting 23 trophy races, Lizrene won 14, with four seconds and three thirds.
On her retirement, Lizrene had amassed $61,208 in stakemoney – an Australian record.
Lizrene whelped four litters with a cumulative total of 25 registered offspring.
Her first two litters (by 1974 Victorian Greyhound of the Year, Temlee) were sold for $3000 each, with two 13-month-old pups fetching $12,000.
Her third litter was by imported sire Come On Wonder, and her final litter by Dusty Progress (whelped November 1980).
Certainly, Lizrene was not the broodbitch success most thought she would be.
Lizrene died in April 1981, aged 11 years.
Her natural brilliance produced a ‘love affair' with Victorian greyhound enthusiasts, who lapped up her deeds with a sense of parochial pride. Competing during a golden era, Lizrene was the major subject of the Victorian greyhound public's adulation.
Hopefully this account of her illustrious racetrack accomplishments will revive memories of a true staying champion.
NB. Reprinted excerpts courtesy Australian Greyhound Pedigrees .
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