Warrnambool product Michael Stanley is confident his star pacer Rock and Roll Do is a strong chance to clinch this year's prestigious $600,000 New Zealand Cup on Tuesday.
With the cup regarded in the harness racing industry much like Australia's Melbourne Cup, the trainer-driver said his stable star was good enough to win the Christchurch-based race.
"Obviously they're extremely hard to win because every horse in it is of the highest quality," the 42-year-old said. "We're very confident we've come over here in really good form and shape that we could possibly win it if things go our win."
Stanley, who moved away from Warrnambool as a teenager to work, said he was thrilled to have his first entry in the group one race after a previous attempt a few years back fell through.
"When you get a horse that has really good ability and is in good form like our guy was, it's a prestigious race you try and get to and be a part of," he said. "It's exciting to get another chance."
Especially the last six months, everyone else has got to see how much ability we always knew he had.- Michael Stanley
Rock N Roll Doo heads into the 18-strong cup field in searing form, winning his last three starts including the $300,000 Victoria Cup on October 8.
"That's one of our biggest races," Stanley said of the cup. "And before that he won the Kilmore Cup and another race Caduceus Classic."
Stanley, whose stables are based near Ballarat, said he always knew Rock N Roll Doo had ability despite early immaturity issues.
"It just took him a little time to grow up," he said. "It's probably only been this year he's done that.
"Especially the last six months, everyone else has got to see how much ability we always knew he had."
Arriving in New Zealand three weeks ago, Stanley said Rock N Roll Doo's race preparation had gone smoothly.
"We had a little bit of travel to get over here, obviously a plane ride and road trip to get from Auckland to Christchurch hence why we got here so early," he said. "He's settled in really well here and he's training has been really good the last couple weeks.
"He had a trial (last week) to have a look around the track for (Tuesday) which he handled really well."
Stanley said his dad Ian and a good friend, as well as the owners, would be track side on the day, while his immediate and extended family, who remain in Warrnambool and the surrounding districts, will be keen followers from the south-west.
"A lot of the relatives know we're over here so I'm sure we'll have plenty of support from down that way," Stanley said.
Rock N Roll Doo has 12 wins from 30 starts, with $391,927 in stakemoney.
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