FORMER NSW Steward Debbie Coleman will be aiming to secure her first victory at the elite level as a trainer when Recruitment contests this Saturday night’s Group 1 Golden Easter Egg final at Wentworth Park.
The son of Cosmic Rumble and Josette Bale was emphatic in claiming his semi-final last weekend, using box one to perfection to score in a sizzling 29.60.
“Drawing box one that’s what we were expecting from him, but sometimes it can bring you undone, so we were just hoping and praying that he could deliver,” Coleman told Australian Racing Greyhound.
The victory followed a terrific second in his heat the week prior which came just one fortnight after he contested the Group 1 Australian Cup final at The Meadows. Having only been in Coleman’s kennels for six starts, it is a testament to her and to the dog to have made two Group 1 finals in such a short space of time.
“We haven’t had him all that long, we have only had him for about eight or nine weeks and I think he has just settled in really well where we are,” she said.
“He handles what we do with him and it isn’t easy work which they do, we don’t wrap them up in cotton wool, but he is coping really well.”
Recruitment, which is owned by Coleman’s son-in-law Shaun Evans, has drawn box six in the Golden Easter Egg final, the same box he had in the Australian Cup, and is currently rated an $18 chance with some online bookmakers to take home the prize.
Coleman said she didn’t mind being the underdog in the $250,000-to-the-winner feature against a truly exceptional field including the likes of Over Limit (box three), Dyna Double One (box four), Ronray Spirit (box seven) and National Derby winner Fernando Bale (box eight).
“He was overlooked in the Australian Cup and he will probably be overlooked this week too which doesn’t bother us one little bit, we are just happy to be there,” she said.
“If he comes out cleanly and can get around the first turn ok then I think he has some chance and I know he will do his best no matter what, but there are some very good dogs in there like Fernando Bale and Ronray Spirit — they all deserve to be there.”
Coleman’s success on the track comes less than a year after taking out her trainer’s license following a career as a NSW steward.
“I got an injury at work and I was told by surgeons that I would never be able to do part of my work again which was ear branding and microchipping, so it was forced upon me that I had to leave that job,” Coleman explained.
“I had to do something when that happened and I knew enough to get me through, so I jumped the fence to training and it has proven to be quite profitable actually.”
Coleman has already trained a plethora of winners and is assisted by her sons, Ricky and Korey, as well as her partner, Rob Cammilleri.
“We have had quite a bit of success — we have trained over 50 winners this year already and I think from July to the end of last year I trained over 100 winners,” she said.
“They are all different types of dogs — some of them are sprinters, stayers and some are only TAB C class whereas some of them are Group class — but they all get the same amount of attention, every single one of them.
“I have my two sons down here as well as my partner and we all put in and try to do as much as we possibly can for them – the dogs are pretty spoilt and I think they love what they do.”
Coleman said that it is going to be a very different feeling than she is used to when she arrives at Wentworth Park this Saturday night.
“I have been at every Easter Egg since 2003 and I have worked every one of them except for last year. To be on the other side of the fence now and having a greyhound in it rather than being the steward at the race meeting is very different,” she said.
“It’s very exciting, but then again I always find it exciting just being there for the Easter Egg or any big race — even the Puppy Classics at Nowra. The one thing is that I understand now is all the hard work that goes into it.”
Coleman said win, lose or draw on Saturday night, as long as her chaser, affectionately known as Luke, makes it around safely, she will be going home with a smile.
“We just hope that he gets around safely. I certainly wouldn’t knock it back if he won, but at the end of the day we are just happy to be there.”