Rob Camilleri, one of Australian greyhound racing’s hottest trainers, is eyeing a veteran Bendigo double this afternoon with two of Victoria’s most durable campaigners – Rajasthan and Slingshot Hammer.
Both are fast approaching their fourth birthday; last year’s Sandown Cup hero Rajasthan, the winner of 33 of his 86 starts, will turn four in May.
He’ll be followed just one month later by his great mate Slingshot Hammer, which has the remarkably similar record of 35 from 89.
“We’re over the moon with how they’re both going,” said Lara-based Camilleri, who along with partner Deb Coleman is enjoying a fantastic start to 2020.
“They work together every day, they enjoy being around each other and they like travelling together. They’re really like partners!”
While Rajasthan’s career defining success came in Australia’s most prestigious staying event, the Group 1 Sandown Cup, almost 12 months ago, he’ll be dropping back to 500m for the Bill Wilkinson Optical FFA (race 8 at 1.43pm).
Camilleri says the mixing of distances and venues is an attempt to keep his cagey old-timer focused on his racetrack responsibilities.
“We’re just playing a few games with him,” said Camilleri.
“As he’s got older he’s become more cunning so we change things up a bit to keep him switched on.
“He likes the track at Bendigo but to be honest I didn’t expect the field to be as good as it is.
“But he’s been beginning very well and if he’s up there with them he’ll definitely make a race of it. His first, second and third sections over 600 and 700 are near-records, so I think he’ll be okay.
“If he jumps like he has been they’ll be hard pressed getting past him.”
The clash between Rajasthan and another ageless warrior in Rodney Clark’s hometown hero Apex Within (box 1), which is also better known for his exploits over further ground, shapes as the highlight of this afternoon’s Bendigo meeting.
While Camilleri is upbeat about Rajasthan’s prospects, he has declared fellow evergreen Slingshot Hammer “a 98 per cent” chance of taking out race 7, the Supayou Live Video streaming 3/4th grade over 425m.
Slingshot Hammer is striving to complete a winning hat-trick after impressive victories at The Meadows and Horsham on Tuesday at his last two starts.
“Slingshot Hammer has got his confidence back and his last two wins have been super,” Camilleri offered.
“He’s turned the clock back and is running the times he used to.”