By Alex Nolan
Spotted Elk may already be a hero to trainers Graham and Leanne Hall but their rising three-year-old is now garnering cult hero status nationwide.
On a recent edition of Sky Racing’s The Catching Pen panellist Jason Lincoln gave a special shout out to the eleven-time winner, who at the time of writing had built a winning strike-rate of 50%.
A cult hero is defined as something that attracts a ‘relatively small audience or is influential despite limited commercial success’.
While nailing an exact measurement of Spotted Elk’s following is difficult, it’s hard to agree that her commercial success has been limited.
She has now earned in-excess of $50,000 and Graham Hall expects more to come.
“I didn’t catch the ‘Pen’ last week but I’ll have to take a look now,” he said.
After just 22 starts, Spotted Elk sits third on the list of the Halls’ highest prizemoney earners, only bettered by their former race dog Black Paws and Spotted Elk’s littermate, 16-time winner Extra Malt.
“Without a doubt (Spotted Elk and Extra Malt) are the two best bitches we’ve ever had,” he said.
“They’re like chalk and cheese. Spotted Elk has the early box speed, but isn’t as strong at the finish as Extra Malt just yet.
“I do expect Spotted Elk will run out the 600m at some point but for now, we’re happy racing her in 520m Free For All company.”
It’s the combination of Spotted Elk’s name, racing pattern and impressive strike-rate that has elevated the bitch by Paw Licking x It Gets Better to nationwide popularity, according to Lincoln.
“If you’ve got a dog with ability and an original or quirky name, you’re going to become a cult hero and the Elk has very quickly,” he said on The Catching Pen.
“We managed to find Spotted Elk when she kicked off that winning run.
“We’ve enjoyed the run and basically, every time she goes around and wins my phone lights up with memes. It’s like a David Attenborough picture. There’s reems of Elks and Moose and all sorts of things being sent to me every time she goes around so she’s become a fan favourite.”
Spotted Elk hit the headlines when she recorded four wins at Albion Park in the space of two weeks in July.
She has since run second in the State Championship Sprint Final and ran a personal best 29.73sec over 520m at Albion Park on September 9.
Hall said Spotted Elk’s name was a nod to Native American culture.
Meanwhile, Extra Malt, who derived her name from grandmother Irish Malt, continues to stamp her authority on the 600m trip at The Creek.
At the time of writing, she had recorded three wins over the middle distance from three attempts and looked likely to extend that record to four at Albion Park on September 23.
“I’d love to go to Victoria with them as there are plenty of races that suit,” Hall said.
“The Sale Cup would be perfect for Extra Malt.”
Having bred, reared, owned and now training the litter, Hall isn’t in any rush to send his girls south unless he and Leanne are along for the journey.
“If they go, we go,” he said.