Morrison seals second premiership
By Jonny Turner
A pinpoint winning drive behind Miss Impression at Ascot Park on Thursday crowned John Morrison New Zealand’s Junior Driver’s Premiership winner for the second time.
The vital victory meant the Canterbury reinsman went in to Friday’s final day of the racing season with an unassailable total of 34 wins.
Morrison was a runaway winner of last year’s junior driver’s premiership, finishing with a 19-win break on Sheree Tomlinson.
This season’s battle, which went down to the wire, was a much different challenge.
“Last year it was one of those things where I was lucky with a lot of drives.”
“But, this year it was a lot closer and a lot tighter and things obviously just played out at the last minute.”
Before Thursday’s meeting, Morrison was tied on 33 wins with northern junior driver Dylan Ferguson.
Last year’s champion pushed past Ferguson, who has finished driving for the season and put himself out of the reach of Tomlinson and Ben Hope, who both drive at Addington on Friday night.
Morrison kept a cool head to claim his second national title with Miss Impression.
The reinsman saved every inch of ground he could throughout the race and stuck to the inner when drivers in front of him were moving away from the markers before the home turn.
Though the Canterbury driver clearly outdrove some of his rivals, he was quick to deflect any praise.
“I was just lucky that the horse can’t do a lot of work, but it has got a bit of speed and everything worked in to its favour.”
Morrison was again modest when reflecting on his championship feats.
He praised the trainers and drivers throughout the South Island who helped him achieve one of the highlights of his career for the second time.
“It is definitely one of the biggest highlights, a premiership is a big thing.”
“I am just lucky with the support I have got.”
“I can come down to Southland and get a decent book of drives for good people who are willing to put me on.”
“At the end of the day if they don’t have their horses ready [to win] I can’t do much.”
“They are the ones working them and training them.”
Morrison’s premiership meant long hours on the road to the races each week have paid off.
Travelling to Southland made a big impact on Morrison’s season, with 16 of his 34 wins coming in the province.
“The travel is good – you have got to do it.”
“We are lucky that we have got a good crew that we go to the races with.”
“They are all good drivers themselves and we can all share the [road] driving.”
“The first season I started coming down here it took its toll, but you get used to it.”
“It is part of the work, so you have got to do it.”
Morrison will start work on a hat-trick of junior driver’s premierships at Addington on Sunday.
He is not taking anything for granted as he searches for a three-peat.
“It all depends on what drives you get, there are a lot of good juniors coming through and a lot of them have got good stables behind them.”