18 February, 2024

‘Bang!’ Morton sets Australian Cup semis alight

Potential superstar Morton has a golden opportunity to emulate his sire Tommy Shelby after a near-record romp in Saturday night’s Group 1 Sportsbet Australian Cup semi-finals.

While Morton was electric in clocking a scintillating 29.53sec, the other three semis all produced upset results, with double figure winners. The sensation was the shock elimination of series favourite Explicit. Morton set the benchmark in the first semi-final, earning the chance to follow in the footsteps of his father, former WA superstar Tommy Shelby, which won the Cup in 2021.

Earlier this month Morton gave Lara trainers Jason and Jessica Sharp their first G1 celebration when winning the Gold Bullion in Brisbane. Morton ($2.30F) relished an inside draw in box two, after a horror recent run of middle alleys, including box four in the G1 Temlee one week earlier when fifth to Explicit. After the brilliant young Victorian went straight to the front, courtesy of a 5.08sec first section, it was a matter of time and margins and both were ultra-impressive. Morton defeated Alpha Zulu by almost six lengths, claiming his 14th win from 22 starts, underlining his affinity for The Meadows in making it eight from 12 at the venue. It was a new PB, shading the 29.55sec he ran last October at just his seventh start and was just over two-lengths outside Allen Deed’s 29.376sec record established in 2015.

“Bang!” said a delighted Jason Sharp.


“Great relief. He’s just a super dog. He’s the best dog ever.”


“He was a lot better out of the boxes and didn’t get pinballed like last week. Great result. Very happy.”


Australian Cup Semi-final winner Mepunga Smokey

Jason Thompson’s Australian Cup hoodoo continued with Explicit failing to beat a runner home in the third heat, won by Fernando Phil. A post-race veterinary examination of Explicit identified sprains to both wrists and a back muscle injury. Fernando Phil ($14.30), trained by Michelle Mallia, came out running, posting a 5.00sec first split to head hot-pot Explicit, and he kept going strongly to score in 29.64sec. Jason Thompson also had an odds-on favourite go under in the second heat, with $1.80 chance Tim Zoo overpowered by Mepunga Smokey ($11.20), trained by Jeff Britton, in 29.70sec.

The final qualifier saw My Magic Man ($10.90), prepared by Jamie and Brooke Ennis, lead throughout in 30.01sec, defeating The Phoenix hero Schillaci, with favoured duo Cain Bale and Hector Fawley finishing third and fifth. ‘Team Ennis’ will have two Cup finalists, with G1 Maturity Classic winner Launch Code also qualifying courtesy of his second placing to Fernando Phil. Jason Thompson also has two finalists in heat placegetters Alpha Zulu and Tim Zoo.

Saturday night’s meeting also featured two heats of the G1 Fanta Bale Super Stayers (730m), with NSW heavyweight Palawa King producing a run of the year contender, coming from last-to-first in 42.80sec. Jason Thompson’s distance newcomer Zulu Blast secured qualifying honours in the opening run-off, clocking 42.71sec.

Article courtesy of The Greyhound Recorder Gerad Guthrie