A whirlwind 2021 has continued for teenager Kayla Cottrell, with the Group 1-winning trainer receiving the prestigious Ned Bryant ‘Silver Fox’ Award at Sunday evening’s Victorian Greyhound Awards.
The award is presented annually to a participant for showing outstanding achievement in the training, breeding, welfare and promotion of greyhound racing, and at just 19, Cottrell has wasted absolutely no time making her mark.
Cottrell, daughter of respected Pearcedale trainer/educators Dave Knocker and Janet Cottrell, only took out her trainers license in April, 2020, after turning 18, and less than a year later she created history as Victoria’s youngest G1-winning trainer when Fernando Cazz won the Rookie Rebel (600m) at The Meadows.
“Receiving this award makes me sit back and reflect on how well the racing team is going and I’m sort of a pinch myself moment,” said Cottrell.
“Being an 18-year-old, it is a lot to take in and look, I’ve got my mother and father to thank. They’re a massive support team of mine, they’re my mentors and I look up to them. It’s not all me; it’s a big family effort.
“To be the youngest (trainer) to win a Group 1, I still can’t believe it. It’s really a dream you’re living in and you think when are you going to wake up. It’s amazing and leaves me speechless really.”
WATCH: Fernando Cazz (3) wins the 2021 Rookie Rebel, making her 18-year-old trainer Kayla Cottrell the youngest Group 1 winning greyhound trainer in Victoria’s history.
Fernando Cazz came within a head of handing Cottrell a second G1 success when runner-up in the Association Cup in Sydney, while her litter brother Fernando Bluey was edged out by Tommy Shelby in the G1 Australian Cup and also contested the G1 Harrison-Dawson.
Surprisingly, Kayla identified an ultimately unsuccessful expedition to Sydney with Fernando Bluey for the G1 Golden Easter Egg carnival as a highlight.
“Even though we didn’t win the Easter Egg, we didn’t get into the final, (and) taking the dog to Sydney was all my responsibility and he came out and blew the field away (in his heat),” Kayla said.
“Unfortunately he missed the start in the semis, which he never does; it was the wrong time to do it, but it (in) was another state so it was a big achievement, even though we didn’t make the final.”
“I can’t thank Alan enough. He just handed me a ripper of a litter and there’s plenty of litters coming through, so there’s very exciting times ahead for the Hunter Racing Syndicate.”
While Cottrell’s small team have proven highly competitive in elite company, another standout feature of the young mentor’s performance has been an amazing strike rate.
19-year-old trainer Kayla Cottrell was recognised at the ‘virtual’ 2021 Victorian Greyhound Awards for outstanding achievement in the training and promotion of greyhound racing in Victoria.
Over the 12-month period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, Cottrell had a total of 52 starters in Victoria (all tracks) from nine greyhounds and recorded 29 wins and a further 11 minor placings for 56% win and 77% place percentages. (statistics: www.greyhoundrecorder.com.au)
“The dogs are going amazing, with a lot of achievements along the way, and when you put in the hard yards and receive an award like this you’re going pretty well. It’s very exciting,” Cottrell said.
With a down-to-earth personality, inherited from her parents, Kayla has taken her meteoric rise in her stride and proven to be a wonderful ambassador for greyhound racing, at the forefront of showcasing the array of young talent in the training ranks that will ensure the sport’s long-term future.
As far as her future is concerned, Cottrell is certainly not resting on her laurels and continues to dream big.
“Hopefully more big races and I would love to win a Melbourne Cup. I think everyone wants to win a Melbourne Cup and we’ve got some nice dogs coming through. It gives you shivers thinking about it!”
The Ned Bryant Award is named in honour of the late George Edwin (Ned) Bryant, a loveable larrikin who was considered the Bart Cummings of greyhound training. The award acknowledges outstanding achievement in the training, breeding or promotion of greyhound racing in Victoria.
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