Morton sets the Australian Cup semi-finals time standard in a scintillating 29.53sec 📸 Clint Anderson

  • Thursday, 22 Feb, 2024,
  • by Peter Quilty

High ‘five’ for Morton?

Popular Lara trainer Jason Sharp realises Morton must defy history to win the Australian Cup from the ‘dreaded’ box five.

Only six greyhounds have won the ‘Cup of Dreams’ from the ‘yellow’ trap since its inception in 1958. And only two of them in the past 20 years!

The select sextet comprises Old Tops (1964), Tangairn (1984), Eaglehawk Star (1985), Fibba (1998), Bogie Leigh (2004) and Velocette (2009).

However, Morton will have some odds stacked in his favour in the $450,500 Group 1 Sportsbet Australian Cup final (525m) – Race 10, 9.52pm – at The Meadows on Saturday night.

LISTEN: Trainer provides the early mail on Sportsbet Australian Cup favourite.

Not only has he a great record from the ‘yellow’ alley, he’s also a track specialist at The Meadows.

Morton won this year’s G1 Gold Bullion and G2 Queensland Derby – both at Albion Park – from the ‘squeeze’ alley and finished third in last year’s G1 Silver Chief from box five.

And he’s notched eight wins, one second and two thirds from 12 starts at MGRA headquarters. His personal best of 29.53sec on the Camp Road circuit was set in last week’s Australian Cup semi-finals.

Morton set the time standard and subsequently is Sportsbet’s $2.90 favourite ahead of Jason Thompson’s dynamic duo – Tim Zoo (Box 1, $3.60) and Alpha Zulu (Box 6, $4.80) – to snare a $300,000 first prize.

In all, Morton – a son of WA wunderkind and 2021 Australian Cup winner Tommy Shelby – has registered 14 wins (with two seconds and three thirds) from 22 starts and $430,495 in prizemoney.

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.

Morton has taken the close-knit Sharp clan – and part-owner Darrell Heathcote – on a ‘magic carpet ride’, and it’s a fact that’s not lost on a humble Jason.

“It’s just a dream… It’s really hard to explain; the whole family has to go on this ride.”

Sharp is not perturbed by box five for Morton in the final as the Sportsbet Australian Cup Carnival comes to its Week 3 climax.

“I’m not fazed. Actually, I was really happy with it as the majority of the speed is in ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’ and ‘four’.

“I feel he may get a massive cart into the race and just has to avoid trouble at the first turn. It’s a Group 1 and things happen, but I think he can run a big race.”


Sharp also believes Morton can overcome the Australian Cup ‘box five’ statistical quirk. “I think he can defy history, but I don’t think we need to dwell on box five.”

And Sharp says “to win a Group 1 at The Meadows, or even Sandown Park, is the pinnacle”. “It’s a dream to win a major race in your own ‘backyard’.”

Morton started his race career with a 29.89sec win at The Meadows on July 19 last year.

“We knew he had a lot of ability right from the start,” Sharp said. “You don’t expect it to happen because so much can go wrong.”

Ten days after his Maiden victory, Morton backed up with a slick 29.77sec win at The Meadows. Time honours on that night went to sensational NZ import Postman Pat in 29.60sec.

“We knew we had something then,” Sharp exclaimed. “He franked that ability last week, but he’s always had the talent to run those sort of times.”

“It’s a dream to win a major race in your own ‘backyard’.”

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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