By Andrew Copley
Pearcedale youngster Kayla Cottrell has fast risen to stardom, becoming – at just 18 years of age – the youngest Victorian greyhound trainer to snare a Group 1 win following Fernando Cazz’s victory in the Rookie Rebel (600 metres) at The Meadows on 13 February.
And this Saturday night she’ll be looking to back it up when with Fernando Cazz’s brother, Fernando Bluey, to line up in the $429,000 Group 1 Australian Cup Final (525 metres), also at The Meadows.
Fernando Bluey made it eight wins from his past nine starts (he has won 17 from 30 overall) when winning an Australian Cup heat last Saturday, and he is one of the main chances in the final despite drawing box 6, mostly because of his phenomenal early speed.
“I don’t think it really matters where he is drawn because he has such brilliant box manners,” Kayla said.
Kayla comes from a rich sporting background, with her grandfather Len a ruckman at the Carlton Football Club in the 1950s, and cousin Matthew currently on the Blues’ playing list having famously kicked the winning goal against Sydney last year and rolling out a memorable celebration.
After working for two years as a stablehand for leading thoroughbred trainer Mick Price, last year Kayla decided it was time to grab the bull by the horns and put all her energy into the sport she grew up with – greyhound racing.
“I thought ‘am I going to makes something of myself being a number for a big trainer, or am I going to do it myself?’,” the 18-year-old trainer told RSN Radio and Sport’s Gareth Hall.
With the support of her parents, Dave Knocker and Janet Cottrell, plus the backing of 75-year-old Blind Bight breeder Alan Hunter, Kayla quickly established a super-competitive team of dogs.
Coverage of Australian Cup night will be broadcast live this Saturday night from 9pm on 7Mate, via The Watchdog app or at watchdog.grv.org.au.