In 1970, Barry Foley took out his first Stawell Gift as frontmarker. Off 11 yards, just one yard off the limit, he was backed into outright favourite before the start of racing only for the bookies to refuse any more bets on him after his impressive heat win.
The bookies were right – Foley would prove to be too strong for those behind him, taking out the Gift by a full yard, in a time of 11.8 seconds.
Foley had only informed his parents of his chance of victory on Good Friday morning before heading to Stawell but for trainer ‘Butch’ Roberts, it was a long time coming. Roberts had been attempting to win the Stawell Gift for 44 years, as a runner and trainer, and was overcome with emotion after the race.
Two years later, Foley would return to Central Park to become just the second man in history to win the Stawell Gift on two occasions, following in the footsteps of Bill Howard (66-67).
The 1972 win carried more expectation with Foley entering the final as the backmarker and 4/5 favourite. However, Foley had pulled a thigh muscle only weeks before the Gift, not completing any hard training until a 75-yard trial on the Thursday night before heading to Stawell.
Foley’s leg would hold up to the three runs required to win the final and in a tight finish, he hit the front with only two or three strides to go to win by just 9-inches, again in a time of 11.8 seconds.