Liam, Jason & Jessica Sharp get around MORTON after his stunning Australian Cup semi-final victory 📸 Clint Anderson.

  • Sunday, 18 Feb, 2024,
  • by Peter Quilty

Morton: ‘Meadows Monarch’

The “King of the Meadows”, Morton is poised to stamp his authority on next week’s $300,000 to-the-winner Group 1 Sportsbet Australian Cup.

Morton – prepared by Avalon husband-and-wife team Jessica and Jason Sharp – reigned supreme with a right royal romp in a Cup semi-final on Saturday night.

He clocked a scintillating 29.53sec over the 525-metre sprint trip. It was his eighth win (with one second and two thirds) from 12 starts at The Meadows.

In a display of unadulterated speed, Morton ($2.30F) defeated Alpha Zulu ($3.50) by almost six lengths in notching his 14th victory – including seven of his past 10 – from 22 starts.

His winning time was just around two and a half lengths outside the 29.38sec track record set by Allen Deed on January 3, 2015.

WATCH: “Morton’s into the final with a big, big win!” The “King of The Meadows” MORTON (B2) reigns supreme in an Australian Cup semi-final.

“Great relief, he’s just a super dog… Best dog ever,” Jason Sharp simply said. “Great result… Very happy. He tries his guts out every start.”

Morton – a son of WA superstar and 2021 Australian Cup winner, Tommy Shelby – has established an impressive Group race CV during the past two months, which has catapulted his stakes to $430,495.

He won the G1 Gold Bullion and G2 Queensland Derby – both at Albion Park – and was a finalist in the G1 Silver Chief (3rd) and G1 Temlee (5th) at The Meadows.

Meanwhile, in the major upset of the Cup semi-finals, Fernando Phil ($14.30) registered a sizzling 29.64sec for Michelle Mallia.

Fernando Phil, a Silver Chief finalist, brought up his eighth win from 22 starts accounting for G1 Maturity Classic winner Launch Code ($4.20) by just over five lengths.

“Great relief, he’s just a super dog… Best dog ever.” – Jason Sharp on Morton.


(Fastest to slowest)

  • 29.53sec Morton
  • 29.64sec Fernando Phil
  • 29.70sec Mepunga Smokey
  • 30.01sec My Magic Man

Michelle Mallia and Fernando Phil. 📸 Clint Anderson

However, the big shock was Temlee and G3 Great Chase winner Explicit ($1.70F) – dubbed the sport’s “next big thing” – finishing eighth. He was found to have sprains to both wrists and a right back muscle injury.

Another surprise semi-final result was Mepunga Smokey ($11.20) – unfairly labelled Jeff Britton’s “third stringer” – defeating Tim Zoo ($1.80) in a slick 29.70sec.

Mepunga Smokey, who was third in both the G1 Adelaide Cup and G3 SA Derby, registered his 13th win from 32 starts. He won last year’s Listed Pink Diamond Maiden Sprinter.

And My Magic Man ($10.90) also produced somewhat of a semi-final boilover narrowly defeating Phoenix hero Schillaci ($4.00), prepared by Jihad Talgi, in 30.01sec. It was his eighth win from 18 starts.

My Magic Man is trained by Brooke Ennis, who also qualified Launch Code for the Australian Cup. Jason Thompson will also have two finalists, courtesy of Alpha Zulu and Tim Zoo.

Co-trainer Jessica Sharp can’t hide her elation after Morton’s win. 📸 Clint Anderson

Two heats of the G1 Sportsbet Fanta Bale Stayers (730m) were also staged on Night Two of the Australian Cup Carnival.

NSW staying supremo Palawa King ($1.80), trained by Ray Smith, produced a phenomenal last-to-first victory defeating Drill Sergeant ($9.20) by one length in 42.80sec.

And Jason Thompson saluted with staying revelation Zulu Blast ($2.40), who staved off SA star Lena Jinx ($2.50) in 42.71sec.

Shane Drummond (Drill Sergeant and Misty Black) and Brendan Pursell (Redeemer Blue and Tan And Black) both have dual chances in next week’s $100,000 to-the-winner final.

WATCH: “Charging through… What a win!” NSW champ PALAWA KING (B3) produces a whirlwind finish in a Fanta Bale Stayers heat.

In other highlights, Succeed ($5.50) – prepared by Kayla Cottrell – landed the Rookie Rebel Prelude (600m) in 34.66sec. (The $75,000 to-the-winner G1 Rookie Rebel will be conducted at next week’s Australian Cup extravaganza.)

And Amanda Tullio, who also owns Explicit, qualified three finalists for the $15,000 to-the-winner GRV VicBred Maiden Series (525m).

She quinellaed heat one with Excavation ($2.60F) who defeated Trespassing ($3.80) by almost three lengths in 30.17sec and finished second with Recycled ($2.50F) who went down to Warm Cockles ($3.00), trained by Dave Burnett, in 30.31sec.

Brooke Ennis will also have Kiptum and Lanfranco in the final, as will Brendan Pursell with Duckworth.

Peter QuiltyPeter Quilty

Peter Quilty

Peter Quilty has more than three decades of experience as assistant editor of Victorian Greyhound Weekly. He was editor of GRV monthly magazine The Adviser (2001-09) and owner/publisher of Australian Greyhound Monthly. He also served on the selection panel for the inaugural GRV ‘Hall of Fame’ inductees and for several years was an adjudicator on the Victorian GOTY. He’s also published greyhound racing yearbooks and wrote the ‘Bold Trease’ video script.

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