Former Welsh hoop Ashley Morgan is thoroughly enjoying his first full Grafton Carnival.
The Newcastle based jockey kicked off a good run of form at Clarence River Jockey Club last Sunday, winning the South Grafton Cup aboard Texas Storm for trainer, Bob Milligan.
Then on Wednesday, which saw the Ramornie Handicap highlight a terrific card of racing, Morgan rode a double, booting home the Kristen Buchanan trained Oakfield Cherokee to victory in the 2200m Class Six Handicap before helping the Jenny Graham trained Schiller to victory in the 1000m Maiden Plate.
On Thursday, a big crowd turned out for the Grafton Cup meeting, and again Morgan stole the show, winning the 1400m Class One Handicap on the Ross Still trained Four Egos before winning his fifth race of the carnival and helping Jenny Graham to another win when The Drake took out the 1175m Class Six Handicap.
Morgan admitted that he and his manager had targeted some good rides for the XXXX Gold July Carnival.
“It was good to get a few winners, and obviously backing up from the Sunday, where we won the South Grafton Cup, it has been a good few days,” Morgan said.
“It was something I spoke to my manager about a couple of months ago, I wanted to focus on Grafton and see what we got there, and I was lucky enough that people I was riding were sending some horses there and I managed a good book of rides over the few days.”
The 31-year-old was also happy to boot home a double for loyal supporter Jenny Graham.
“Jenny has been really good to me, I only started riding for her at the back end of last year and we’ve had a fair bit of luck together,” Morgan said.
Morgan praised the Grafton track for standing up to multiple meetings, even suggesting the track itself was playing fairer the more it was raced on.
“This is my first-time riding at the carnival, the Maclean Cup meeting last year was my first-time riding at Grafton,” Morgan said.
“Last week, the first meeting they had there, the track was okay, but it has improved as they raced on it.
“The track was perfect, playing fair for on speed runners, runners coming off the pace and the track has been super the last few days.”
Morgan said the big crowds and the carnival atmosphere really added to the spectacle, making it very enjoyable for the jockeys.
“You ride the races the same, that doesn’t ever change, but for me, it’s a great atmosphere at Grafton and I’m getting a kick out of it,” Morgan said.
“Winning on The Drake yesterday (Thursday) was a big thrill. He is a bit of a favourite and there was a good buzz after his win.”
Morgan leads the Grafton Carnival jockey challenge, and with a good book of rides for the Maclean Cup Day on Sunday, which doubles as the final day of the carnival, he hopes to finish with bragging rights.
“I’m the leading rider there at the minute,” Morgan said.
“To knock off another two or so wins would be a great end to what has been a good week.”
In the feature event of the day, Morgan will again team up with Bob Milligan and Texas Storm as they chase Maclean Cup honours.
The six-year-old is drawn off the track with gate 12 but is still second favourite to win the $34,000 race.