Morrison looking for southern summer success
by Jonny Turner
Trainer-driver John Morrison hopes the Central Otago sun can help add to his success in the Gore Cup.
Morrison heads to the huge Gore Christmas Trots meeting with a team of four horses, including cup contender Jimmyray.
The Canterbury horseman produced one of the first feature wins of his training career when producing Standout to win the Gore Cup in 2020.
Morrison has his team based at Cromwell to compete on the Otago-Southland summer harness racing circuit, starting at Gore on Wednesday.
Jimmyray comes into the Gore Cup following a fair effort at Addington on New Zealand Cup Day, where he faded late after working wide.
The pacer comes into Gore’s feature after being freshened, and Morrison is hopeful he is ready to show his best.
“He’s a good show, he’s working really well,” the trainer-driver said.
“He had a couple of minor issues with a virus and that, but he seems to have bounced back well.”
Morrison’s first starter at the Gore meeting is the debutante Spectator in race 3.
The filly looks well capable of featuring, but she is set to require some luck after being handed a tough draw in barrier 8.
Ballygar lines up next in race 4 in the Morrison colours.
The four-year-old has also been freshened since his last start, in which he was unlucky after copping a check.
A slick trial win since then shows Ballygar is right on track for a big Gore effort.
“He's trialled well; he can be a bit of a rogue sometimes, so he can get out and go anyway,” Morrison said.
“Hopefully he can lead up around there and go a good race.”
Harrison looks the best placed of Morrison’s Gore starters.
The pacer has taken on much stronger fields than he meets in race 11, and he looks a serious winning threat.
“He’s going honest races; he probably just needs to lift his game a wee bit to be back to his old self,” Morrison said.
“But yeah, he seems well enough to go well.”
Morrison also links up with his partner Nicole Harris’ pacer B Smart in race 9.
The mare is best known as a grass tack specialist, but she looks to be racing well enough to feature on the Gore all-weather surface.
“She’s going honest races; she’s back to the all-weather, in an average draw,” Morrison said.
“So she might need a bit of luck, but yeah, going honest anyway, so she shouldn't be too far away.”
Morrison also links up with the Phil Williamson trained Jimmy Carter in the Gore Trotting Cup.
The pair combined to produce a remarkable win on Invercargill Cup Day recently with Missile.
Jimmy Carter has shown the ability to threaten in the event, but he will need to find his manners after galloping in several recent starts.