Anethole delivers Cody Morgan third Hunter North West qualifier victory

The Cody Morgan-trained Anethole after winning the Hunter North West Country Championships qualifier at Tamworth on Sunday. Inset: Trainer Cody Morgan was all smiles after his third qualifier win in the Country Championships Hunter North West region. Photos: Bradley Photos.

Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan won his third Hunter North West Country Championships qualifier at Tamworth on Sunday, with Anethole getting the job done in the $150,000 feature. 

Morgan won with Unbiased in 2019 and Ligulate 2020 but nothing was going right for him in 2022, with the stable forced to scratch early favourites Edit and Wren’s Day because of the heavy track. 

“I really thought Wren’s Day would probably win the race and obviously with the wet track, we pulled him out,” Morgan said.

Tom Sherry guided Anethole around on Sunday, with the pair breaking cleanly from the gates before settling in behind stablemate and the Will Pike-ridden Ezekeil.

On the home straight, it was anyone’s race and in the final furlong, the Cam Crockett-trained Commando Hunt and Lyle Candler-trained Banju looked to have the race between them, only for Anethole to kick back on the inside. 

In a tight finish, the Tamworth galloper won by 0.24 of a length from Commando Hunt, while 0.8 of a length off the pace was Banju in third. 

The Australian Bloodstock-owned five-year-old is now a four-time winner from 16 starts and Morgan said he has worked out his galloper’s secret ahead of the $500,000 Country Championships final at Royal Randwick on April 2.

“(He won’t improve) a lot; he is wound-up, but he is really tough,” Morgan said. 

“I had him in here about four or five weeks ago and I speak to Luke Murrell every day and he just said to me, looking at his form pattern; space his runs – so we did, and we went a month between (runs), and he went to Sydney and run second, and we went a month between again.”

Winning jockey Tom Sherry said a lack of speed in the race helped their chances, which allowed the Exceed and Excel gelding to get the easiest of runs. 

“You have to ride him like he’s the best horse in the race,’’ Sherry said.

“He jumped very smart. I thought there was going to be a bit more speed than there was coming from the outside.

“Once I did get cover, he travelled beautifully, and it was just a matter of kidding to him the whole way in the run.

“He always lets down strong but just for a short period of time. He’s always at his best when I’ve ridden him like that and that’s the key to him.”

Scone trainer Cam Crockett is also off to Royal Randwick, with Commando Hunt running a mighty race to finish second to Anethole.

Brooke Stower took the ride and the local hoop was forced to go back midfield, sitting two and three wide before peeling as one of the widest on the home turn. 

Despite the tough run, the four-year-old dug deep, almost winning and holding off the third-placed Banju to secure second place and a spot in the rich final. 

Crockett believes his Time For War gelding will thrive on the big Royal Randwick track.  

“I look forward to getting this horse to Randwick; he loves Randwick,’’ Crockett said.

Readers wanting full results from Tamworth can click here