LARA trainer Rob Camilleri has been clocking up the kilometres with recent kennel acquisition Slingshot Hammer, odds-on favourite for Sunday afternoon’s Mount Gambier Cup (512m).
Since being purchased by Camilleri and partner Debbie Coleman in January, Slingshot Hammer has already made two trips to NSW, for the Richmond Derby and Maitland Cup series, before hitting the road again for last Sunday’s Mount Gambier Cup heats.
“It’s just the way things have panned out,” Camilleri explained.
“He’s had a few little issues so we didn’t want to push him in town straight away.
“By going to Mount Gambier he gets two 500m runs under his belt and gets his confidence up before heading up to Sydney for the Golden Easter Egg.
“When we took She’s Gifted up for the Brisbane Cup late last year, Slingshot Hammer ran second in his heat and we asked his owner if he was for sale.
“But he wasn’t for sale so we didn’t worry about it anymore. Then a month or two later, the owner rang and asked if we were still interested in buying him and we came to an arrangement.
“If he can win the Mount Gambier Cup he’ll take a chunk out of what we paid for him!”
The interstate travel obviously hasn’t done Slingshot Hammer any harm; evidenced by his impressive Mount Gambier heat performance, where he produced the fastest qualifying time of 29.45sec on debut at the track.
Slingshot Hammer, winner of 17 from 44, flew out from box one in his all-the-way heat victory and after again drawing the rails for Sunday’s $15,000 to-the-winner final, to jump at 2.13pm, the son of the great Fernando Bale dominates TAB’s market at $1.70.
“He went super for his first look at the track. We were over the moon,” Camilleri said.
“I don’t want to jinx him but since he’s been with us he’s been jumping a bit more consistently.
“I think Deb and I have been in nine Group finals and we’ve drawn box six seven times, which makes it very hard. But drawing the red again on Sunday gives the dog a chance.
“He just has to do what he did last week but he has improved and with an ounce of luck he can go even better this week. He’s definitely a live chance but it’s a very even field and no dog can afford to make a mistake.
“Deb and I get a big kick out of winning a tier race but it’s really nice to be part of the bigger races. You’ve got to have the cattle to compete against the big trainers and we don’t get given top dogs, so it’s not easy, but our strike rate is pretty high and greyhound racing is what keeps us alive.”
Another Victorian, Pure White Evil, is the $3.60 second elect with Cranbourne South trainer Andrew Paraskevas chasing his second South Australian feature in as many weeks after winning the inaugural Murray Bridge Cup with litter brother Eye Got It.