By Isaac Murphy
Since Corey Mutton made the bold move to try the untested Federal Elle as a stayer, the bitch has flourished winning five of her last ten starts. She will look to add another scalp this Thursday night at Albion Park in the 710 metre Free For All where she tackles Group One winner, Bago Bye Bye.
Federal Elle’s rise has produced several landmark wins, but it was her FFA 732 metre win on Ipswich Cup night where she defeated Top Gun star Radar Gunn and Nationals representative Miss Gingin that gave the family man a night he wouldn’t forget.
“To have her perform on that night and to have my daughter there who’s my lucky charm and my wife cheering on at home it’s a family effort and I think that’s why there’s so much emotion attached, it’s the path we’ve chosen and you’ve got to relish the success,” Mutton said
It was a watershed moment for the Muttons, but it was straight back to business the next week at Albion Park. This time the breaks not going Elle’s way but with another shot at the track and trip this week it could be her time to strike.
“She got the squeeze from box four last week and still chased home really strongly if she can just navigate that first couple of hundred metres a bit better, she’s rock hard fit and will take a lot of chasing,” he said.
“The draw (6) is a little better this week. She just needs a little bit of space at the start and I think with the dogs around her she’s a good chance of working her way into the first three without much trouble.”
“I see she’s come up at thirteen to one against a field she’s mostly got the better of lately, so despite her efforts she hasn’t really been embraced as Free For All class yet.”
While many would steer away from a clash with Darren Russell’s Bago Bye Bye who holds the second fastest time to Tornado Tears over the 710 at The Creek, Mutton is rapt to have the dog in the field hoping he can bring the best out in Elle.
“I’m praying she can tack on to Bago Bye Bye early because when she’s pushed, I think she can really rise to the occasion and run some time,” he said.
“If those two are able to pair off out in front she won’t let him get away. I’m not saying I’ve got the better dog, but we want to get to Bago Bye Bye’s level and the only way you do that is by racing him.”
Mutton has done what previous trainers haven’t been able to do and brought out the best in Federal Elle after owner Dave Lewis sent him the bitch earlier this year to race up the straight at Capalaba.
“I knew she’d started out with Robbie Britton in Victoria before bouncing around a few trainers in Sydney mostly over the 520 and while her record wasn’t flash there was obviously ability. I’m pretty happy I took a punt on her,” Mutton said.
“Her first trial up the straight she looked really good and ran one of the quickest of the day, but her first split just wasn’t up to scratch and she was getting too far back over the short trip.”
“After a few starts without much success I could still see the ability in her and I said to Dave (Lewis) I think we can make a stayer out of her, so I gave her a spell and started her off over the 520 at Ipswich.”
With two wins from twenty starts and nothing beyond the 520 metres the ploy looked a long shot, but a first up trial at Ipswich let Mutton know then and there he had something to work with.
“She went 30.70, but broke twelve seconds for the run home I knew then and there she had plenty to offer over further,” he said.
“I still thought it would take a while to build her up, but she just kept ticking the boxes winning at the Ipswich 630 and 732, Albion 600 and 710. She was a real natural.”
Mutton said the bitch that first arrived is a shell of the greyhound he has in his kennel now as he incrementally built her up.
“I started to build her up over the Zammit’s straight track before her first go at the longer trips and you could see the life coming back into her, add on the subsequent wins and she’s as confident as she’s ever been,” he said.
“I never want to toot my own horn, but it gives me belief that my training methods were able to turn her career around.”
Mutton started out as a self-professed punter spending time visiting tracks and meeting bookies with his grandparents. That’s where the seed was planted, and he started to branch out around ten years ago.
“I started out as an owner with Darty (John Dart) in 2009. We had a nice little bitch that won some races down there and went in the Dapto Auction Series and that was it I was hooked,” Mutton said.
“I’ve been a working man most of my life and spent two years out at Roma on the gas job, but it was always my ambition to set myself up financially to come back and have a crack.”
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I’ve been very lucky having someone like Paul Cauchi mentor me from day one, along with the Zammit’s in Mick and Tony help me along.”
Having learned the ropes from some of the best, Mutton is now in position to prosper and thanks to his success is getting a lot more attention from prospective owners who appreciate his training style.
“I’m getting a lot more calls from owners about taking on dogs, we’ve got a boutique little set up at Palm Beach about fifteen minutes from Tallebudgera Creek. I’m very fortunate people are seeing the value in what I can do,” he said.
“I think a lot of trainers can get stuck in a rut with their dogs, where it’s so important to have a bit of versatility to keep them on their toes. I’m not afraid to take a dog anywhere if I think the race suits.”
While another boilover this Thursday would be nice, Mutton knows he’s got time on his side with the three-year-old who he believes if set to take even greater strides the more staying tests she gets.
“The big picture is The Gold Cup in January. All the interstaters have to come to us which is a huge advantage and with another month of solid racing before then I couldn’t be more optimistic about how competitive she’ll be,” he said.
“It’s only her first preparation as a stayer and she’s gone above and beyond already, her ceiling for improvement couldn’t be much higher.”