Powerhouse stayer Stanley Road is striving to become just the sixth NSW-trained greyhound to annex the group 1 RSN Sandown Cup when he takes his place in Thursday night’s star-studded final.
In a race dominated by Victorian stayers, you have to trace back to 2005 to find the last time a chaser from the Harbour City won the world’s premier distance race when Best Quoted powered to victory.
Stanley Road enters the final on the back of his breathtaking last-to-first victory on his Sandown Park debut in last Thursday’s heat, his seventh win in his last 10 starts.
Further fuelling Stanley Road’s insatiable run of form are the major health issues the dog’s owner Eddie Kingswell is battling.
Kingswell was diagnosed with advanced brain cancer earlier in the year which sees the revered industry identity undergoing heavy ongoing treatment.
And while electing to stay rather private during his uphill battle, Stanley Road’s trainer Mark Gatt concedes that each win by their staying star carries extra significance for his proud owner.
“The treatment gets Eddie tired and worn down very quickly but he hasn’t missed a race of Stanley Road’s yet … and he’ll be there on Thursday night as well,” he explained.
“He just loves watching the dog race and he’s brought him plenty of joy at what’s a really difficult time for him and those close to him.
“Each race and win does mean that bit more giving everything he’s going through and I’m sure the dog will do him proud on Thursday night.”
The two-time Group 1 winner will step out from box six looking to end NSW’s 16-year drought in the series. Standing in the way is a terrific field of stayers, led by WA sensation Zack Monelli which holds favouritism from box one for the $175,000-to-the-winner decider.
“Box six isn’t a total nightmare providing he can fall out and find the fence,” continued Gatt.
“If he puts the mouth guard in early and tries to charge through them we’re in trouble, especially from box six.
“His racing style makes it hard to be overconfident but he’s in great order and if he gets that luck early into the race I’m sure he’ll run really well. All of his Victorian runs have been great. He knows how to find the line when it matters.”
Bookmakers have installed Stanley Road a $3.30 second-favourite behind Western Australian Zack Monelli.
“The favourite is a class dog – he’s a Group 1 winner, has the plum box and he’s proven he can run the time,” Gatt said.
“He’ll be hard to beat but I think Zipping Rambo and Maggie Moo Moo are right in the race as well.”
Following Thursday night’s Sandown Cup, Stanley Road will head towards the fast approaching Speed Star series before Gatt turns his attention to the lucrative Queensland Winter carnival at Albion Park.
*The original version of this article appears on The Greyhound Recorder. Reproduced and adapted with permission.