Stanley Striving For Emotion-Charged Cup Win

STANLEY Road is aiming to become the sixth NSW-trained greyhound to win the Group 1 Sandown Cup in Thursday night’s star-studded final.

Adam Dobbin

26 May 2021

POWERHOUSE stayer Stanley Road is striving to become just the sixth NSW-trained greyhound to annex the Group 1 Sandown Cup (715m) when he takes his place in Thursday night’s star-studded final.

You have to trace back to 2005 to find the last time a chaser from the Harbour City won the world’s richest staying contest when Best Quoted powered home to victory for trainer John Mooney.

Before 2005, NSW’s modest record in the race, first staged in 1963, began when Kawati Boy won in 1978 before Status Supreme scored in 1982 for Brian Barrington.

NSW’s two remaining wins in the staying pinnacle were courtesy of Red Mystique in 1998 and Smart Attitude a year later in 1999.

On Thursday night, two-time Group 1 winner Stanley Road will step out from box six looking to end NSW’s 16-year drought in the series for leading trainer Mark Gatt.

But 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,” Gatt said of Stanley Road.

“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 to secure a third Group 1 title at Sandown Park on Thursday night.

Favourite for the race is Zack Monelli at $2.30 while Zipping Rambo in box four has had solid support also at $7.

“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.” 

As was the case when enjoying a successful Victorian campaign in February, Stanley Road is in the care of Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Paul Bartolo.

That interstate venture saw the son of Allen Deed win the Group 1 Super Stayers (725m) and finish a narrow second in the Group 1 Zoom Top (725m) at The Meadows.

Upon his return home to NSW the boom stayer turned in a remarkable performance to take out the Group 1 Association Cup (720m) at Wentworth Park.

Further fueling 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, 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,” Gatt said.

“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.”

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.