Ray Shiells is no stranger to training a top class stayer, famously winning the 1990 National Distance Championship at Olympic Park with Clean Machine.
So, it would be wise to listen when the veteran mentor says he’ll be “shocked” if boom distance prospect Shanlyn Hunter doesn’t continue on his winning way at The Meadows on Saturday night.
Shiells, who prepares a team of just three at Diamond Creek, has only had the lightly-raced Shanlyn Hunter for five of his 21 starts.
The son of 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Dyna Villa and Shanlyn Lucy, a multiple Group staying finalist, has made a huge impression in runaway victories at his last two starts at Sandown Park, over 595m and 715m.
Shanlyn Hunter’s most recent success was a seven-length demolition last Sunday, clocking a fast 41.59sec, and Shiells expects him to make it three straight when he makes his 730m debut at The Meadows in Race 7 at 8.43pm.
Shiells’ confidence is backed by TAB’s market, with Shanlyn Hunter installed as $2 favourite.
“I’m over the moon with him. He’s flying at the moment,” said Shiells.
“His last two wins have been super, and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win on Saturday night.”
WATCH: Potential staying star SHANLYN HUNTER (1) was an eye-catching winner over 715m at Sandown Park last Sunday, powering to the line in a seven-length victory, clocking a fast 41.59sec. (No audio available)
Shiells was given the opportunity to train Shanlyn Hunter courtesy of great mate Stan Ralph.
“Stan trained for Lyn Larsen, who owns Shanlyn Hunter, and he recommended me,” he explained.
“I had a high opinion of the dog and now I’m lucky enough to be training him.
“I’ve always thought Shanlyn Hunter would stay, and he ran out the ‘700’ really well at Sandown.
“His first two runs for me were over 600m at The Meadows and then I took him to Shepparton for a 650m and I thought he was a certainty beaten. He gave the leader ten lengths and ran second – it was a huge run.
“I know everyone says they’re going to improve, but I definitely think after another two or three starts over ‘700’ he will improve.”
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While Shiells only ever has “two or three” in work, he has an affinity with stayers, identifying Victorian and National Distance champion Clean Machine and multiple Group finalist Buckle Up Tina as standouts.
“I think I can win a nice race with Shanlyn Hunter,” Shiells predicted bullishly.
“He’s probably better suited at Sandown than The Meadows, just due to the shape of the track, but I still expect him to win on Saturday night.”