Smokey Mac a surprise package
By Jonny Turner
Trainer-driver John Morrison admits he does not know quite what to expect from his grass track specialist Smokey Mac at Gore on Sunday.
The seven-year-old starts for the first time this season from the 30m mark in a 2700m feature that is packed full of winning chances.
Class combined with his two wins and two placings from just six starts on grass mean the Canterbury raider is among the strongest of those hopes.
But circumstances have led to Smokey Mac having just one workout to prepare for his first run since January.
And though it was a scintillating winning effort, it was at almost two months ago, which has Morrison going into race 8 with a cautious approach.
“He loves the grass and he doesn’t mind the speed on,” the trainer-driver said.
“On his ability, he is good enough to clean that field up if he wanted to.’
“But fresh-up it is hard to know exactly where he is at because it is a while ago since he trialled.”
The scenario means Morrison will be looking for an economical run for his trotter.
“He wouldn’t want to do any work, he would need to get a good run because off 30m he is going to have to be good.”
“If he could follow them all of the way and save it for a bit of speed at the end it will be OK.”
“It is going to be one of those races, where you just don’t know.”
“He is good enough to run in the money if things work out for him.”
Morrison also starts Standout from his stable in the Gore Cup.
The five-year-old will step up in the 2700m feature after an excellent win against lesser opposition at Orari last month.
Morrison thinks Standout, who starts from the front line, can measure up in what is set to be the toughest test of his career.
“I think he is up to this lot,” the trainer-driver said.
“I wouldn’t say he is a deadset winning chance, but if he got a good run I would be disappointed if he didn’t run in the top five.”
“If he can just get away and get in the running somewhere I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the finish.”
“But he would have to be going good to win it.”
Harrison was a highly impressive maiden winner on Tuapeka Cup day before running down the track in his last start at Addington on Show Day.
Morrison is clearly a harsh judge of himself as he blamed the effort on his drive, when it appeared to come down to race circumstances.
“He is definitely up there with them, but it is still only his sixth start and he is a bit green.”
“He is in a field where he is probably going to be a pretty good chance, but you just don’t know what horse is going to turn up because he is so green.”
“But he has been going well and his last few starts have been good.”
“I was happy with him on Show Day, I just put that down to a bad drive.”
Superfast Kiwi looks one of the strongest of Morrison’s outside drives at Gore.
The five-year-old comes into race 1 after running second in a recent grass track workout behind race rival Nordic Prince.
Morrison also drives Helluva Way in race 3, Jaffie J in race 6, Franco June in race 7 and Kagee VC in race 11.