INDUCTEE 2019: DAVID HAMER
12 February, 2019
Hall of Fame
The word pioneer comes to mind when relating the deeds of 1970s and 80s champion greyhound trainer, David Hamer.
Not only was he there at the beginning of the industry in Western Australia, but he was a self-taught dog handler who would rise speedily to be five-times leading trainer in the West in a single ten-year period.
Hamer came over from Victoria in 1972. He had run a Cranbourne T.A.B. and while he was interested in greyhound racing he had no background in the sport. When he and partner, Cathy Bonomelli, elected to drive the Nullabor to make a move to the West, they decided they would try their hand as breeders of greyhounds, aware as they were, that Cannington Central would be opening not long after their arrival (December 12, 1974).
They brought with them a foundation broodbitch named Merlyn Lady.
Hamer and Bonomelli acquired a rural property in Forrestdale and had kennels and runs built for ten racing dogs, as well as for pups, brood bitches and stud dogs. Hamer never found the need to increase the size of his kennel block, for all his success over the next decade.
Merlyn Lady, who had been covered by top Victorian sire, Venetian Court, then had a litter of six pups, but a frustrated Hamer could find no one to train them.
Eventually he made the portentous decision to train the dogs himself. His research into what was needed led him to utilise the latest technology in ultrasound and a magnetopulse blanket to aid greyhounds’ recovery from injury niggles and the general strain of racing. Hundreds of hours would be spent employing this therapy.
Cathy Bonomelli focused attention on diet for the dogs, rightly believing that this would be core to any future success. She also made sure the kennels were at all times spotless.
Hamer exercised the greyhounds off the back of a tractor along the bushland firebreaks and trails in the area. A 320 metre straight grass track was fashioned to gallop the dogs.
When greyhound racing at Cannington did commence, Hamer was good to go, but prize money was so poor that earnings from a T.A.B. shop he acquired in Kwinana was all that kept the business afloat, at least initially. Also, Cannington raced only once a week at first, then twice, after a few years. The Mandurah track was built in 1979, which added a third weekly meeting.
To help source greyhounds, Hamer developed a strong association with successful Victorian trainer, Kerry Chalker, who aided greatly in supplying Hamer’s owners in WA Meanwhile, he began breeding his own pups and was to become a major influence in WA’s evolution of greyhound bloodlines.
Incredibly, David Hamer went on to win the inaugural trainers’ premiership at Cannington in 1975. Then he won again the next year. Then in 1980, 82 and 84.
He prepared three Greyhounds of the Year – Pearl King (1980), Icy Monaro (1982) And Blue Echo (1984).
Smooth Ginger, Lepke, Legatee and Next In Line were also all top greyhounds educated and prepared for racing by
Most of these were tried dogs from the east, but Hamer’s breeding concern also bore fruit quickly.
Every pup in Merlyn Lady’s litter that graced the track won races, with the litter winning 20 races at Cannington Central.
Alfred’s Crown, which Hamer flew over from Victoria to stand at stud, was a brother to a Melbourne Cup winner and when bred with Merlyn Lady produced Next In Line, who won twenty-one races. She in turn was mated with Hamer’s champion, Blue Echo, and produced Fremantle Echo who won the 1987 WA Sprint Championship and National Championship in Hobart. WA Derby winner, Black Review, was the littermate.
Pearl King, who won thirteen races in WA, also covered Next In Line to produce outstanding bitch, Oyster Lady (nineteen wins).
Next In Line was raced by David Simonette, who would be an assistant to Hamer at his kennels for a time, before one day becoming CEO of Greyhounds WA.
An overview of Hamer-trained greyhounds between 1975 and 1984 reveals a superb array of talent.
1984 Greyhound of the Year, Blue Echo, won the WA Sprint Championship and twenty-two of twenty-six starts in the West, without ever being unplaced.
1982 Greyhound of the Year, Icy Monaro, won thirty-six races and was placed twenty-six times from eighty-four starts. Feature victories included the 1982 Birthday Cup and Mandurah Cup the same year.
1980 Greyhound of the Year, Pearl King, registered thirteen wins and seven placings from twenty-two starts in WA after a very successful career in Victoria.
As well as those standouts, Smooth Ginger was the 740 metre track record holder, while Academy John held the 530 metre record. Next In Line won the 1980 WA Oaks and Lew Dorsa Memorial, Legatee the 1984 Perth Cup, Lepke the 1976 Anniversary Cup, Man Of Mickla the 1985 Mandurah Cup and Spanish Waltz the 1979 Paradise Street Trophy.
Express Style, Oyster Lady, Lomer Gold, Ballyporeen and Egyptian Palace were other quality performers for David Hamer.
Perth Cup - Legatee 1984
WA Sprint Championship - Blue Echo 1984
WA Oaks -Next In Line 1980
Birthday Cup - Icy Monaro 1982, Man Of Mickla 1985
Mandurah Cup -Icy Monaro 1982
Anniversary Cup - Lepke 1976, Man of Mickla 1984
Christmas Gift - Blue Echo 1984
Lew Dorsa Memorial - Next In Line 1980, Blue Echo 198, Express Style (D/H 1981)
Spring Gift - Blue Echo 1984
Paradise Street Trophy- Spanish Waltz 1979
Trophy Winter Cup - Blue Echo 1984