It’s fair to say astute Pearcedale trainer/educator Dave Knocker has been living in the shadow of his teenage daughter Kayla Cottrell in recent months.
Knocker is a Group 1-winning mentor, but it’s been 19-year-old Kayla that’s been creating headlines through the deeds of star littermates Fernando Bluey, G1 Australian Cup runner-up and G1 Harrison-Dawson finalist on Thursday, and Fernando Cazz, winner of the G1 Rookie Rebel.
Kayla also guided the ill-fated Big Jo, also a member of the wonderful Fernando Bale x Naughty Cazza litter and only the second greyhound she trained, into the G1 Hume Cup final last November.
“Kayla has done an enormous job,” said Knocker proudly.
On Saturday night at The Meadows, Knocker gets his opportunity to get a piece of the action with Fernando Frank, another littermate, in a Grade 5 final (600m) – Race 6 at 8.24pm.
Fernando Frank only won four of his first 31 starts but has been firing on all cylinders since Knocker took over the reins after four months on the sidelines.
After winning first-up at Shepparton over 650m, Fernando Frank has claimed three middle distance wins and finished second twice, beaten less than half a length on both occasions, from five starts since returning .
Fernando Frank was impressive in last weekend’s heat, coming from behind to run away from G1 winner Playlist in 34.37sec, with the other run-offs won by Weblec Ace in 34.23sec and Abelero Bale in 34.26sec.
Drawn in box five for the second week running, Fernando Frank is on the third line of TAB betting at $3.70, shaded by Weblec Ace (Box 8) at $3.30 and Playlist (Box 1) at $3.60.
“I thought his heat run was enormous,” Knocker said.
“He came out of the ‘yellow’, the same as he’s drawn this week, and was fourth early and the dogs in front of him could run a bit. He went past Playlist like he was standing still!
“He ran home in 12.26sec, which was exactly the same as Fernando Cazz when she ran 34.04sec.
“I think he’s a live chance in the final. I just hope he can break the sequence he’s had going since I’ve had him – it’s been win, second, win, second, win!
“I don’t know if he’ll get ‘700’. He only goes fair for the first 100-150 metres and then goes really well for the next 400m. He’s also better coming from off the pace and chasing them down rather than being out in front.”
Having forged a formidable association with owner/breeder Alan Hunter, Knocker and Cottrell have enjoyed a phenomenal strike rate with the progeny of Naughty Cazza and they’re hoping that will continue with her next litter, to Aston Dee Bee and two repeat matings with Fernando Bale.
“We’ve got four of the Aston Dee Bees and there’s six Fernando Bales that are 11 months old and another 10 that are three months of age,” Knocker said.
WATCH: Reinvigorated Fernando Frank (5) upstages G1 winner Playlist (2) in a Grade Five heat over 600m at The Meadows last week.
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