Victorian greyhound racing is all the poorer for the passing of veteran trainer/breeder Les Slattery at 90 years of age.
“Les just loved racing. From the horses to the dogs, if it was racing he was knee-deep in it,” said close friend and fellow trainer Daniel Pell, who Les took under his wing at a very young age.
“He was great to me, not so much as a mentor but as a friend.
“He would never see anyone go without. If you were in need, he’d be there for you.
“Les paid it forward and it came back to him in his later years when he lost his driver’s license and Jason Formosa used to drive him around trialling and racing and he was able to keep training winners.
“As a kid I spent most weekends with Les. Back in those days you didn’t need a catcher’s license and when I was about eight years old I said, ‘Mr Slattery, could I please catch your dogs for you?’
“Bendigo used to race on Monday nights and then when I got to about ten I used to go to Cranbourne on Saturday nights nearly every week because I didn’t have to go to school the next day! Peter Frost and Ray and Judy Morgan also used to come along regularly.
“Les was a horse man at heart and trained a few gallopers, while he also raced some pacers with Terry French at Heathcote.”
Described as a Bendigo icon in a Facebook tribute by Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association, Les’ greyhounds raced under his Our Boy or Our Girl prefix, with his finest including Our Boy Laddie (17 wins), Our Boy Ducks (11 wins), Ourgirl Greer (11 wins) and Our Girl Olivia (13 wins), the mother of champion sprinter Carlisle Jack.
“Les didn’t have any family and he used to name most of his dogs after his friends; they were either Our Girl something or Our Boy something,” Daniel explained.
“Unfortunately Our Boy Daniel wasn’t much good!
“Les was a terrific bloke, a real character who lived for his dogs.”
“Our Boy Laddie was one of his best. He ran second to China Trip in a Cranbourne Cup and won the Easter Cup at Olympic Park. I think he won over 500, 600 and 700 at Olympic Park.
“Next best was probably Our Boy Ducks. He was really injury-prone but Les got him to win half a dozen Free For Alls at Olympic Park.
“Our Girl Olivia, who was the mother of Carlisle Jack, was a really good dog too. I remember she ran third in a heat of the Geelong Cup but she beat Flying Amy home and Les said I don’t care where she finished she beat Flying Amy!”
Daniel’s fond memories of Les aren’t restricted to the racetrack.
“At one stage when Les was in between jobs he drove taxis in Melbourne for a while,” Daniel recalled.
“I asked him who was the most famous person he picked up and he said Johnny O’Keefe. When he dropped Johnny off he asked Les to come in for a drink and he didn’t get back to work that night!”
One of Les’ greatest achievements was breeding champion sprinter Carlisle Jack, winner of the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg in 2002, as well as the G2 Ballarat Cup, G2 Wangaratta Cup, G3 Warragul Cup and G3 WA Interstate Challenge.
“Les was a terrific bloke, a real character who lived for his dogs,” said Bendigo GRA President Bob Douglas, who trained Carlisle Jack.
“Les bred Carlisle Jack and when he sold him he told the owners he would get a friend of his, which was me, to train him.
“We were actually getting out of dogs at the time but Les rang me and said you told me you’d take him so I said to my wife, Fay, that I’d take him for six or eight weeks and he’ll probably end up being no good. He turned out to be Carlisle Jack!”
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