Group 1-winning teenager Kayla Cottrell and her flying frontrunner Fernando Bluey will spearhead Victoria’s bid to continue its recent Golden Easter Egg domination in Saturday night’s semi-finals.
Victorian-trained sprinters won the Egg on nine successive occasions between 2010 and 2018, before Zipping Bailey provided a long overdue local celebration in 2019, while NSW’s most coveted race was a COVID casualty last year.
Shima Shine had been expected to lead the Victorian charge in last weekend’s heats but he was a shock elimination as Fernando Bluey stepped into the void, continuing his sensational form for 18-year-old Pearcedale prodigy Kayla Cottrell.
Australian Cup runner-up Fernando Bluey made his first interstate appearance in the Easter Egg heats and took his faultless box manners and brilliant early speed with him to NSW.
The son of 2015 Easter Egg victor Fernando Bale and Naughty Cazza was a scorching all-the-way 29.47s winner, with his first split of 5.33s the second quickest of the ten heats.
“I took him up to Wentworth Park before the heats and trialled him box-to-box and he was all at sea,” Cottrell explained.
“I knew he’d improve and he did. He went enormous.
“He’s a brilliant beginner so Wentworth Park really suits him. You’re always turning up there, which is perfect for ‘Bluey’ because he scrapes the paint.
“I wasn’t expecting him to run 29.40s. I know he can run but he did it both ends.
“The first time we drove up to Wentworth Park he was a bit restless and didn’t travel that well but he was a lot more relaxed this time. He just fell asleep!”
Fernando Bluey has now won eight of his 10 starts for Cottrell, and 18 from 32 overall, with one of those defeats a “bob of the head” loss to Tommy Shelby in the Australian Cup.
After making light of box six last week, Fernando Bluey has drawn five in Saturday’s opening semi-final, where TAB has marked him $1.90 favourite, ahead of fellow Victorian Faithy Bale at $4.40.
“Boxes don’t matter because of his early speed but I don’t mind boxes four and five at Wentworth Park,” Cottrell said.
Fernando Bluey shares the second line of ‘All In’ Easter Egg betting with local hero Wow and WA superstar Tommy Shelby at $5, with fastest heat winner Flying Ricciardo (29.22s) heading the market at $3.
The daughter of successful trainers Dave Knocker and Janet Cottrell, Kayla, who will turn 19 on April 20, is incredibly taking aim at her second Group 1 trophy for 2021.
She won the Group 1 Rookie Rebel in February with Fernando Cazz, a litter sister to Fernando Bluey that is also heading to Sydney on Saturday for the Group 1 Association Cup heats over 720m.
Fernando Cazz is making her staying debut in the second of three heats, where she’s a $5 chance, with another Victorian in Run Like Jess $4 favourite.
“It’s her first go at the trip so she’s on trial at the distance but she’s giving us every indication she’ll run it,” said Cottrell.
“She trialled up there with Fernando Bluey and handled it much better than he did. She looked like she’d been around there a hundred times.
“You’d think she would be a front-running stayer. We’ll soon find out!”
Fernando Bluey and Fernando Cazz are raced and bred by Alan Hunter, who initially gave Cottrell another litter mate, Big Jo, which tragically fractured a leg when winning a heat of the Group 1 Hume Cup last October, to train.
Already well-versed in the high and lows of racing, Cottrell is casting a keen eye towards the future with Naughty Cazza’s next three litters to Aston Dee Bee (whelped February ’19) and repeat matings with Fernando Bale (July ’20 and February ’21).
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