Harrington Cup adds to Ashley Morgan’s stellar Australian experience

Ashley Morgan won Tuesday’s Harrington Cup aboard the Jason Deamer-trained Ottilie at Taree. Photo: Manning River Times.

Ashley Morgan has gone from strength-to-strength since arriving in Australia back in 2018, and he capped off his best season to date in 2021/22, winning the NSW jockey’s premiership when riding 136 winners. 

The 32-year-old celebrated his achievement in style, with the Welsh-born hoop heading back to Europe, riding at Wolverhampton and Chelmsford in England before riding at Santa Anita in America. 

“It was a good experience and good to ride back in England for a little bit,” Morgan told Racenet late last month. 

“Santa Anita is a place I have always wanted to ride; it’s an amazing place and I had a good time there.

“It was really good to touch up on the riding skills as well in America, I’ve been there before for three months, and I always feel like I sharpen up a bit when I go there.”

Morgan didn’t kick off the 2022/23 Australian racing season until late October, but in just over two months, he has booted home 22 winners, taking off from where he left off last season. 

“It took me a few weeks to get going when I came back as there are lots of good riders, and especially in NSW, if you stay away for a little bit, it can be hard to get all those rides again,” Morgan told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“I’ve started to get some good books over the last two or three weeks and I’m going to town next Saturday and I’ve already booked a couple of nice rides.”

Morgan is focusing on quality over quantity in 2023, and he is setting his sights on making a real mark on the provincial and metropolitan racing scene. 

“Last season was great, but I wouldn’t say I completely enjoyed it because I was riding everywhere and putting pressure on myself to win the premiership,” Morgan said. 

“That’s not the focus this season, and it’s more about getting on the right horses, and I am more relaxed, and I think that is showing in my riding.”

Morgan’s class shone through at Taree on Tuesday, with the hoop winning the Harrington Cup aboard the Jason Deamer-trained Ottilie ($2.60), while he landed a treble when winning on the Mark Minervini-trained Miss Violet ($7.50) in the 1000m Maiden Handicap and the Mark Stewart-trained Fine Weather ($6) in the 1600m Class Three Handicap. 

“I thought Ottilie was my best, but Fine Weather’s run was good at Taree the run before, and it had to lump 61kg, but Mark was confident with his horse, and Miss Violet looked well placed,” Morgan said. 

“I thought I had three good chances, but you never expect to ride three, and you’re happy if you get one and the rest is a bonus.”

The 1300m Harrington Cup was the feature on Taree’s eight-race-card, and Morgan admitted that there was a lot of confidence that Deamer’s Newcastle galloper would prove too good in the $30,000 country cup. 

“There was definitely some confidence, but I never had anything to do with her before recently,” Morgan said. 

“I ride work at Newcastle and do a bit for Jason, and I galloped her the Tuesday before with the tongue-tie on and she did a great bit of work.

“Plus, she was coming back from metro and provincial races, and she looked the one to beat.

“When she jumped well and landed up on top, I was able to control the tempo for most of the race and she didn’t get a lot of pressure in the run, and she was able to run a quick 600m.”

Morgan, who rode at Port Macquarie today, winning on the Sam Kavanagh-trained Theif By Night, has a big book of rides at Wyong on Saturday and Nowra on Sunday before venturing back up north and riding at Taree on Monday.