A brutally honest Dave Knocker is under no illusion as to the task confronting Robbie Rotten when he clashes with record-breaking heat winner Paua Of Buddy in Friday afternoon’s inaugural GRNSW Southern Stars Final (440m) at Goulburn.
Country cups heroes Robbie Rotten, trained by Knocker’s 20-year-old daughter Kayla Cottrell, and Paua Of Buddy booked their places in the $50,000 to-the-winner Southern Stars decider at Wagga last Friday night.
Robbie Rotten was first to qualify, clocking 22.82sec over the 400m course, before Paua Of Buddy, currently based with Wagga owner/breeder David Jones, smashed the track record at his first start since March, posting 22.28sec.
After drawing Box 1 for the first time since relocating to Victoria in late 2021 and just the third time in his 41-start career, Robbie Rotten is $5.50 in TAB’s market on the Southern Stars, which is Race 9 at 3.30pm.
Paua Of Buddy is the already well-backed $2 favourite from Box 4.
“Paua Of Buddy is obviously a very fast animal and on his performance at Wagga, if he steps on Friday, they’re not going to see which way he went,” said Dave Knocker, who ‘deputised’ for his daughter in Wagga.
“I was hoping to draw ‘the pink’. I just think if he does miss it a fraction, it gives him that room to let down, but nine times out of ten ‘the red’ can draw you out.
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“The key to the dog is speed and if he can come out running and lead, there might be some trouble behind him, and he could find himself two or three in front.”
Since moving to Victoria, Robbie Rotten has starred on the country cups circuit, winning the Warragul Cup, running second at Shepparton and qualifying at Ballarat.
He’s made an impressive return after three months on the sidelines with a sesamoid injury, winning two from three, and has the benefit of race experience at Goulburn, albeit finishing out of the placings at his lone appearance last October.
“He’s been to Goulburn early days, and didn’t really come out that good,” said Knocker.
“But since he’s been with us in Victoria, the dog has done nothing wrong. He’s been a faultless beginner wherever we’ve taken him.
“He knows the place (Goulburn) and he’s a good traveller. We’ll put him in the boxes and may the best dog win, but it’s just a big feat for him at nearly four years of age to be in it.”