By Duane Ranger
After driving half the card at Albion Park on Saturday, Menangle Park reinsman, Robert Morris, still has unfinished business in the Sunshine State.
“It was a great night at the office. I think that’s the first time I’ve driven the winner of the first three races, but that fourth one was a long time coming,” Morris said after saluting the judge four times out of eight.
The quartet are trained by Morris’s wife KerryAnn, who has remained in New South Wales to attend to the couple’s 45-strong team.
Those victories came a night after the 28-year-old reinsman steered Major Lucky and Cruzy Dude to victory at Albion Park on Friday.
Morris, won the first three races on the eight-race Saturday night programme, and then rounded off the evening with a win in the last race behind the Melissa Kendall trained, Mister Hart.
“Our team wasn’t quite ready for the Winter Carnival in July, but because a couple were competing against some free-for-allers back home, coming here was a good option. We like to get here a couple of times a year.
“The stakes are good, the weather is warmer, and the horses are enjoying the change of scenery. It’s proving to be well worth it,” Morris said.
His memorable night started when 5-year-old Somewheresomebeach gelding, Squire, downed the hot favourite, Ima Top Tycoon, by a neck, and paid $7.50 in doing so.
Then half an hour later another 5-year-old gelding, this time by Bettors Delight, bolted in by 11.2 metres as the $1.75 favourite. His name was Pembrooks Passion and he recorded the exact 1:52.9 mile rate that his stable set in race one.
The Morris’s then nailed the hattrick when $2 favourite and 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere mare, Prophesy, got the chocolates by a whopping 16.3 metres.
Five races later, Morris steered 6-year-old Major In Art gelding, Mister Hart, to a 2.3 metre victory at odds of $5.50.
“I thought I started too well and this fourth win was never going to come. We will be back next week., and I think a couple of our horses will be improved by Saturday’s run,” Morris said.
He was referring to beaten favourite, Our Sequel, in race five and decisive race two winner, Pembrooks Passion.
“Our Sequel will definitely be better for the run and Pembrooks Passion is a promising young pacer. He ran in a couple of Group Twos as a 2-year-old last season, and I think he’s a real progressive type. He won very well considering it was just his second look at the track,” Morris said.
He was also impressed with Squire.
“He was the surprise package. He’s been a bit crook lately and I didn’t expect him to bounce back like that in quick time. He can also go on with it.”
The NSW couple also finished second with $2.70 favourite, Stormont Star in race two, and third with $2.20 favourite, Our Sequel in the fifth event.
Their only miss came in the Open Pace (race six) when $3.40 favourite Aztec Bromac, finished a 4.9m fifth.
“None of this would have happened had it not been for the kindness of Grant and Trista Dixon. We are staying with them in Tamborine and it has been great. They are wonderful hosts and I can’t thank them enough,” Morris said.
In fact the Dixon trained Rocknroll Emma won the feature event – the $14,000 Garrards Horse & Hound Open Pace, after sitting in the trail.
It was the 6-year-old Rocknroll Hanover mare’s 20th win and seventh at ‘The Creek’. Driver Paul Diebert had the following to say:
“She’s racing real well and is always thereabouts. The thing I like about her is that she always tries her heart out and always gives her best every week. The ace draw helped her a lot tonight. She left the gate real well and travelled real nice throughout.
“I’m rapt to have had a full book of drives tonight. It was the first time I’ve had a full book at a Saturday meeting and I’m grateful to Grant, Trista, and every trainer who puts me on their horses.”
The feature trot – the $8,000 Brisbane Riverview Hotel Discretionary Handicap saw the Wayne Graham trained Empire Bay win his fourth straight race in the city since August 10.
The 6-year-old son of The Pres has now won 19 races and $179,341 since making his race-day debut at Tabcorp Park Menangle back in April 2016.
He started from 30m behind and won by 4.7 metres from is old foe, the Grant Dixon trained and driven Our Overanova, who started from 50m behind.
It was also one of two wins for the man nicknamed 'Leader Peter', aka Peter McMullen, who also nailed the fifth event behind the Ron Sallis trained Elms Creek.
McMullen had the following to say about ‘Trotter-of-the-Year’ candidate, Empire Bay:
“I had to be patient because I knew where Our Overanova was. It’s been a real match-race with him most weeks, but next week we will go back in the handicaps, so it will be another good battle.
“Wayne has done a great job with this fella. He’s built a real nice record.”