Elson Seeks Third Slipper Victory
Blythewood trainer Gary Elson is full of praise for diminutive filly Cott Beach and he gives the aptly-named pacer an excellent chance of winning the $125,000 Choices Flooring Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
“She’s tiny, but she’s good,” said Elson who has trained Class of Tara (2013) and Sprinter (2015) to victory in the Group 1 Golden Slipper.
The Golden Slipper has been run 49 times, but only eight fillies have been successful --- Sordice (1968), Omista (1971), Via Vista (1980), Mazzini Magic (1988), Whitbys Miss Penny (1990), Whitbys Merit (1993), Spirit of Navajo (2005) and Arma Xpress (2012).
Cott Beach has won at six of her nine starts and is handily drawn at No. 4 on the front line. She possesses blistering gate speed and Nathan Turvey could well go for broke and attempt to send the filly to the front from the outset. While Cott Beach is a dashing frontrunner, she can also race back in the field and produce a powerful finishing burst. She has given superb frontrunning displays to win at her past two starts, in feature events for fillies.
Cott Beach is owned by Peter King, an Englishman who trained and drove winners in England, his wife Barbara Pellick, a remarkable international marathon swimmer, and King’s 25-year-old son Michael.
“Barbara is the queen of the Rottnest channel, with 28 solo crossings and one double,” King said. “The annual Rottnest swim starts from Cottesloe Beach, hence our filly’s name. She is also the first West Australian to get the triple crown of ocean swimming --- the English Channel, the 48km Manhattan Island swim and the Catalina Channel swim --- and she overcame the strong currents to do the Straits of Gibraltar swim two years ago.
King and Pellick work at Alcoa and live in Coolup and King has always taken a keen interest in harness racing. “I grew up with horses,” King said. “My uncle was a jockey and my Dad always had thoroughbreds. I got into pacers when I was 16 and I owned and drove pacers. I won a few races as a driver on grass tracks and I came out to Australia in 1987 when I got a job working for Trevor Warwick.”
King gained a licence to train and drive in WA. He bred Kings Tricks (by American stallion Just Ever Thankful out of the Racy Prince mare Sahara So Long) and at his first drive in a race in WA he finished second with Kings Tricks (behind Crash City Revhead) at Busselton on December 27, 1994.
His first Australian winner was Kings Tricks, whom he drove to victory over Hard Copy (Grant Williams) in a three-year-old event in Collie on April 29, 1995. King drove Kings Tricks at 70 of his 130 starts for five wins (three at Collie and one each at Bridgetown and Busselton).
His WA driving career ended with eight wins and 30 placings from 213 drives. He also trained nine winners from 232 starters. His only city training success was with Our Master Jamie in a 1700m $10,000 M0 event at Gloucester Park on February 15, 1991.
King also has dabbled with breeding for many years and Cott Beach is the result of his decision to outlay $4500 to buy well-performed mare Back In The Black when she was in foal to Advance Attack.
Back In The Black, a winner of seven races and $58,780, produced Cott Beach on October 10, 2014 and Cott Beach goes into this week’s Golden Slipper with a wonderful record of nine starts for six wins and two seconds for stakes of $136,550. Cott Beach’s breeding traces back to the champion world record-holder Dainty’s Daughter, a superstar of the 1970s and 80s. “The rest is history,” said King. “We ended up with this little filly who has turned out to be a pocket rocket.”
The Golden Slipper on Friday night promises to be a fabulous spectacle, with Jack Mac, unbeaten at his five WA starts, a hot favourite, but facing serious challenges from Cott Beach and several other up-and-coming two-year-olds.
Ryan Warwick and the powerful Bond stable will be out to notch their third win in the classic, with Warwick having been successful with Spirit of Navajo in 2005 and Mitch Maguire last year and the Bonds winning the race with Ohokas Bondy in 2010 and Mitch Maguire.
Warwick will drive the Bond-trained Ella Gant Player, who warmed up for the classic with a strong-finishing third behind Rosies Ideal and The War Nurse in the Group 3 Gold Bracelet last Friday night.
Rosies Ideal, trained and driven by Shane Young, will have admirers after her superb victory last week when she settled down in last position and then started a three-wide move after a lap. She worked hard in the breeze before getting to the front 220m from home.
Rosies Ideal was bred and is owned by Busselton businessman Craig Lynn, who also bred and owns Highroller Joe, a promising gelding who will be driven by his trainer Justin Prentice from the outside of the back line. Highroller Joe thundered home from sixth at the bell to score an easy win in the Group 1Westbred Classic last Friday week.