John Barbara is hoping his comeback sprinter Runnin’ Royalty can continue to defy the odds in Sunday afternoon’s GCV Straight Track Championship (350m) at Healesville.
Runnin’ Royalty boasts an excellent 29 wins from his 47 starts and was only beaten a length by superstar Hooked On Scotch in the Group 2 Geelong Cup last October before Exford-based Barbara feared injury had ended his career.
“He broke his stopper bone,” Barbara said.
“The vets gave him no chance of racing again but I persevered and got him back.
“He probably lost the best part of his career – he’s three and a half now – but it’s a bonus just to have him racing again. Anything he does from now on is a bonus.”
Runnin’ Royalty, a son of another iron greyhound in Stagger, which incredibly won 64 of his 137 starts, was sidelined for seven months.
But Barbara’s dedication and patience has been rewarded with three wins and two minors from five starts since resuming in June.
Runnin’ Royalty will be striving to crown his unlikely return with a feature victory in Sunday’s $5000 to-the-winner Straight Championship; however the box draw has hurt his chances of turning the tables on fastest heat winner Midnight Monarch.
In last Sunday’s heats, Runnin’ Royalty dead-heated for second behind Midnight Monarch, which ran a best of day 19.24s, and he will remain in box two for the decider.
However, Barbara says the ideal scenario would see him swap boxes with Midnight Monarch, which has drawn the pink.
“He loves it out wide where he can do what he likes so I think we could be in a bit of strife from where he’s drawn,” said Barbara.
“Reverse the boxes with the favourite (Midnight Monarch) and he’d give it a run. He really excels from wide draws and if he gets clear running it’ll be a different story.”
While Runnin’ Royalty has impressive statistics at Healesville – 3 wins from 6 starts over 350m and 2 from 3 over 300m – Barbara has cautioned that he’s not at his most effective up the straight.
“He doesn’t really like it to be honest,” he said.
“He’s a much better horseshoe dog than straight-track dog.
“I wouldn’t put him around two bends again after his injury and it’s very hard to back him up.
“He’s a week-to-week proposition but if he stands up we’ll put him in the Healesville Cup and then go back to the circle after that.
“He’s been a very good dog to us and we actually put him at stud when we thought he wouldn’t come back but while we got a few nibbles he didn’t get any bitches, which I thought was a bit astounding when you look at his record.”
The Straight Track Championship is race 5 on Sunday afternoon, jumping at 12.24pm.