Any greyhound that has contested 11 group races has clearly given his or her connections plenty of thrills throughout their racing career.
And, Slingshot Hammer, the son of Fernando Bale x Little Hammer, has done exactly that. But to also recently win his 98th and 100th career start certainly places this very impressive greyhound amongst rarefied company.
Additionally, punters have been for some time acutely aware of Slingshot Hammer’s incredible strike rate and ability on the racetrack. (102 Starts: 37-16-14)
Born in June 2016, Slingshot Hammer, trained by Robert Camilleri at Lara, is also affectionately known as ‘Hammer’ or ‘Boof’, and has something of a fan base within the Victorian greyhound racing community.
“Don’t do anything wrong, or you’ll never touch him again.”
According to Hammer’s besotted owner, and Robert’s partner, fellow greyhound trainer, Deborah Coleman (pictured above), “People love him. You take ‘Hammer’ to different tracks and many kennel staff will remark – ‘Oh, I remember him.’
“He is such a pleasure to be with. He has such a terrific temperament …until the lure starts to go around….then he barks with excitement.”
“When we go trialling, everyone just wants to handle Slingshot Hammer because he is such a lovely dog, and everyone that does handle him gets a thrill out of the experience. My son Korey is still smiling after the night ‘Hammer’ won his 100th race at Ballarat.”
Korey Coleman, 21, accompanied Slingshot Hammer to the track that night on 12 May, and Deborah gave Korey some fairly simple, but strict instructions…
“Don’t do anything wrong, or you’ll never touch him again!” Deborah said, laughing over the phone at her stern and unwavering caution to her youngest son.
And, being a proud mum of her son and greyhound, Deb pointed out – “We let my son, Korey, take ‘Hammer’ to the races, and to his credit, he has not been handling dogs for very long, so we left it up to him… but with the warning, just don’t do anything wrong!”
Slingshot Hammer drew the coveted red box in his 100th start, and he flew from the inside at the Ballarat track, scoring comfortably by 4.3L.
WATCH: Slingshot Hammer (1) clocks win number 37 in his 100th start.
And, as maintained by Deborah, “To be honest we did not think he could be beaten going into his 100th race, but we had quite a few greyhounds engaged at other race meetings that day and night, which is why we let Korey take him to the track.”
With approximately 90 greyhounds in work in varying stages at the couple’s Lara training facility, it is as wonderful, as it is astonishing, to think that Deb Coleman, a very busy and successful greyhound trainer, will still find the time to plan driving her animals for interstate playdates, Covid-19 lockdowns permitting.
“We had Rajasthan. who won the (G1 2019 RSN) Sandown Cup. Slingshot Hammer, Rajasthan and our now retired brood matron – She’s Gifted, who was third in the (G1 2018 TAB) Melbourne Cup were very close friends. ‘Raj’ went home to his owners in South Australia, and I spoke with them the other day mentioning that I would love to bring Slingshot Hammer over for a play date, as the greyhounds were such great friends.”
“It would be great for the dogs to see each other again, they worked together and they were such great buddies…every race meeting the three of them were always together,” she said.
“The day after Rajasthan won the Sandown Cup, I took a video of ‘Raj’ and ‘Hammer’ walking out to the runs together, as best friends,” a delighted Deb recalled.
The Group 1 contending greyhound trio gave Deb and Rob a lot of great memories and reasons to laugh, as Deborah reminisced, “They all had their favourite blankets and then two of them decided that they both liked the same blanket, so I had to cut it in half… honestly, it is no lie!”
“And, when I sent Hammer to Sydney with his favourite blanket and the blanket did not come home with him…God no! How is he going to live without that blanket? So we had to get him another one.”
NSW wasn’t just the location for Hammer’s bed-clothes obsession to go wrong either.
“He got up and seemed to shake himself off, and don’t ask me how… he kept going!”
“Rob took ‘Hammer’ up to Wentworth Park two years ago for the Bob Payne Sprint final and a bloke behind the boxes joked to Rob, ‘I hope your dog can stay on his feet, because mine is going to take your greyhound out!’
“Well, he did take ‘Hammer’ out, and ‘Hammer’ did about three somersaults going into the first corner…..that type of stuff, your heart is in your mouth when things like that happen.”
“And true to ‘Hammer’ being ‘Hammer’, he got up and seemed to shake himself off, and don’t ask me how… he kept going!”
“We got him home, and the following week Slingshot Hammer was in the heats of the (2019 G1) Harrison Dawson, and he won, running his fastest time ever at Sandown – 29.32sec.”
“If you consider what happened to him in the Sydney race, and James Van De Maat said on air during the broadcast of the Harrison Dawson heats, ‘Wow what a form reversal after running about 40 lengths last in New South Wales’.
“After falling the week before interstate, where ‘Hammer’ still managed to finish the race, it was an extraordinary turnaround,” Deborah pointed out.
Rob and I always joked that after that fall in Sydney, when he got up and shook himself out, that he fixed his back up, from what was an ongoing nagging problem.”
WATCH: Robert Camilleri reveals the freakish circumstances around Slingshot Hammer’s all-conquering win in a G1 Harrison-Dawson heat in 2019 when recording a 29.32sec PB just five days after a fall. See the replay HERE
Deborah and Robert long had great admiration for Slingshot Hammer from afar.
While being trained by fellow Lara trainers Robert Britton and Brendan Pursell, they made an initial offer to purchase ‘Hammer’ but to no avail. Once he did become available, however, the couple seized the opportunity, and it’s fair to say the son of Fernando Bale has made a very big impact on their kennel and their lives.
“Slingshot Hammer has been a fantastic dog for us, we bought him about two years ago and he has won 13 races in that time and run numerous placings.”
“He’s run some terrific races with his career extending to 11 group race finals. It’s incredible to think that at start number 84, Slingshot Hammer lined up in the (2020) G1 Temlee (running 3rd to Whiskey Riot).”
Slingshot Hammer wins a heat of the 2019 Geelong Gold Cup, securing his place in the final for the second consecutive year.
That is one of many highlights in a career that has amassed one group victory – the 2018 G3 Cranbourne Classic when in Britton’s care – and more than $230,000 in prize money.
“In the heats of The Million Dollar Chase in Sydney, ‘Hammer’ beat Whiskey Riot and Shima Shine. He has defeated some top class dogs in the heats of some very big races. Unfortunately, he never had much luck in many of his group finals.”
‘Hammer’ has raced against so many awesome competitors, including two Melbourne Cup winners – Whiskey Riot and My Redeemer – as well as Orson Allen, a Harrison Dawson winner, and beaten them all.
Deborah mentioned lamentably, “The year that both Slingshot Hammer and She’s Gifted were at their peak, there were so, so, many great greyhounds around.”
I asked Deb what stuck out in her mind as the best performance from Slingshot Hammer, or perhaps the best time that she had had with him at the races, and her reply was emphatic.
“There are absolutely too many, however, if I had to narrow it down I’d day when he came from behind to beat Whiskey Riot and Shima Shine in the 2019 Million Dollar Chase heat at Bulli.” See replay below
Slingshot Hammer has also become a mentor for the younger greyhounds at Rob and Deborah’s kennels.
“I keep saying he will be the one who will be retired out to our lounge room, and Slingshot Hammer will be sleeping on my bed.”
“Hammer’ teaches the young greyhounds we have in our care to use the (galloping) runs, and we do move him around, amongst our kennel, as his temperament is such a soothing influence on the other dogs that may be new to the whole experience and a bit anxious.”
“We were going to retire him, but ‘Hammer’ loves racing, so much so, we decided to give him a couple of starts in the veterans races, as he is five years of age in a couple of weeks.”
“Each morning ‘Hammer’ barks and carries on, as he wants to get out and work. If we could have found him the perfect home, we would have let him go, however the situation has to be spot on for him.”
“I would like someone to be home all the time with him as he does get more time spent on him here in the kennels, compared to what he might get with potential new owners going off to office jobs or a form of employment that takes them away from their pets during the day.”
“If the right person was to come along, and promise that they could give ‘Hammer’ the best home that they could, he would be retired. However, I keep saying to Rob that Slingshot Hammer will be the one greyhound that will be retired out to our lounge room, and he will be sleeping on my bed.”
I don’t doubt Deborah Coleman at all.
FLASHBACK: 11-time group race veteran SLINGSHOT HAMMER (3) beat a stunning field in a heat of the #MillionDollarChase at Bulli in 2019. Keep an eye out for Victoria Shaw’s feature article on this ‘extra’ special VIC greyhound, coming soon to @WatchDogRacing.— WatchDog Racing (@WatchDogRacing) June 7, 2021
🎥 @GreyhoundsNSW pic.twitter.com/zWWJOlnZ49
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