After retiring Priceless Jet and Beach Avenue in recent months, Paul Hennessy has decided to also call it a day with another of his brilliant veterans, the hugely popular and extremely talented Hello Hammond.
Much like his already retired kennel mates, Hello Hammond was a joy to watch through his long career, showing incredible brute power and stunning pace as well as incredible versatility.
Paul Hennessy described Hello Hammond’s story as “a rags to riches tale”. Certainly, things didn’t come easy for the home bred son of Jaytee Jet and Jaytee Pearl in the early days but when he finally got to grips with things, he really did turn into one of the fastest in training.
PAUL HIS BIGGEST FAN
Said Hennessy of Hammond, “We’ve decided to call it a day with Hello Hammond. He’s been such a hero of a dog for us and we’ve had so much fun, so many great nights and unreal memories with him. His is a real rags to riches tale, going through the grades to reach the summit. It was just a pleasure to see him learn as he went along.
“He was always a nice dog but it took him a while to get to grip of things. He reached the final of the McCalmont Cup and went a couple of rounds in the Laurels but it wasn’t until he was after three years of age when he moved to the bigger tracks that he really came into his own.
“He was brilliant for us in the [Shelbourne Open] 600 Last year. I think he did a 32 second run in that before finishing second in the final but it was his English Derby challenge that really got us excited. It was the stuff of dreams.
“Obviously being a local dog, owned by Gerry and Miriam [Meaney] he earned a great following. The pub in Royal Oak, Bangenalstown is owned by a real doggy man Mattie Byrne and everyone in the pub got behind Hammond. The craic in the pub during his Derby run was supposed to be unreal. He turned into a bit of a local hero.
“What he did in Towcester was just unreal. Obviously, we switched him to six bends at over four years of age but he really took to it and became one of the best stayers around. We could have kept going and the dog still has more to give but there comes a time when you weigh up the pros and cons and we didn’t want to go too long with him.
“He a gent of a dog, so cool, laid back, a bit of a dude to be honest. That wasn’t always the case but he’s matured into a wonderful animal and he’ll stay with us. Susan [Hennessy] adores him and gave him a pillow. Like a child with a blankie, he couldn’t be without it. It’s sad we won’t see him race again but he gave us all so much excitement and was incredible sport.”
NOT YOUR STANDARD CAREER
Paul gave a great idea of how good Hello Hammond was but a glance through his career really does highlight the gradual upward trajectory of his journey.
It wasn’t actually until his eighth race that he managed to register his first victory. They didn’t exactly flow in the immediate aftermath either.
So often in those early months, he displayed huge pace only to find traffic. Certainly, this scribe regularly phrased it on the form guide, “needs to find his sat nav”. In latter times that changed to “One of Ireland’s fastest” and that certainly was the case.
After reaching the final of the McCalmont Cup and Deadly Kennels A1 Derby at Kilkenny in 2021, his first success of note came in the Deadly Kennels A2 at the same track later that year. By now, the penny was beginning to drop.
He managed to win a couple of rounds of the Gold Collar at Shelbourne at the back end of the year, reaching the final where he finished fourth but it was a clear he would shine when stepping back up to 600 yards.
A DIFFERENT DOG
He returned in 2022 a different dog, so much more mature, showing better track craft and as much pace as any dog in training.
He challenged for the Shelbourne Open 600 and was amongst the favourites to land the final after a stunning 32.04 return in the semi-finals, which is easily amongst the fastest runs ever recorded for the trip.
After running up the classic to Fast Fit Paddy he was aimed at the English Derby and immediately took to the Towcester circuit. After an incredible run in defeat in the opening round, he displayed all his pace and power to win his second and third round assignments before overcoming traffic in the semis to finish third, earning his place in the decider.
A greyhound who only months earlier was running in A2 stakes at over three years of age was now in an English Derby final with live claims. Just 5-1 at the off, he sadly found traffic problems before finishing fifth. Despite finishing out of the frame he was a real eye-catcher, flying past those in front of him to lead the field to the pick-up.
He may have turned four years of age less than two months later but the decision was made to step him up in trip. It immediately became clear he was a natural over six bends, going unbeaten through the Irish Cambridgeshire and winning top class open races over 750yds at Shelbourne Park and Curraheen Park on Laurels final night.
As Hennessy has stated, he could have gone on but at four and a half years of age, the decline was certain to happen sooner than later and the remarkable August ’18 didn’t deserve to end his racing career on a downward slope.
Instead, he will be remembered as one of the real swashbuckling greyhounds of recent years. The joy and excitement he provided his owners Gerry and Miriam Meaney, the entire Hennessy family and those that just watched on as enthusiasts can’t be measured. Happy retirement fella!