Tas Morton lands elusive Walcha Cup win

Ray Spokes guides the Tas Morton-trained Acoustix to victory in Friday’s Walcha Cup. Picture: Bradley Photos.

According to Port Macquarie trainer Tas Morton, he was on a good thing with Accoustix in Friday’s Walcha Cup, and he was happy to let anyone know what he thought of his chances in the $45,000 event.

“I set him for the Walcha Cup about three weeks ago, and I described him as unbeatable to anyone that asked,” Morton said.

“I’ve been trying to win a Walcha Cup for years, and I said to Ray (Spokes) to bounce him out, drive him forward, and then give him a breather, and when they come down the hill at the 600m, instead of going to the inside, go to the outside because it’s a flat run into the straight, and you don’t lose any momentum. I honestly didn’t think he could lose.”

Despite starting a $10 chance, the veteran trainer was on the money, with Spokes leading all the way on Accoustix, which held off recent Inverell Cup winner Zaidin (Brooker Stower, $3.30) from the Wayne Oakenfull yard, while in third was the Jane Clement-trained Red Beryl (Kelsey Lenton, $9). 

“I couldn’t believe the price; I would have been happy with $3 or $4, and we shopped around for $10, so it was a lovely day,” Morton laughed. 

“Days like that are few and far between but let me tell you, we savoured the moment.”

The seven-year-old is a 44-start veteran that has greeted the judge first on eight occasions, and he entered the race second-up (9:4-0-3), which Morton believes made all the difference on the day.

“Second up, he races well, and first-up at Coffs Harbour the other day, he raced well, and Ray didn’t ride him, but I said to him after the run that he will win the Walcha Cup,” Morton said. 

The pair have now won three country cups with the Snitzel gelding taking out the 2021 Christmas Cup at Lismore before winning the 2022 Hopkins Livermore Cup at Taree back in August. 

“That’s the third cup in a row that Ray has won for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Morton said. 

“He does ride for me a bit, and he’s a good mate of mine, but it’s hard to get him because he rides for Brett Bellamy at Coffs Harbour, but he said to me three weeks back that he’ll ride it and it was nice to get another win together.”

While Morton has won almost every race worth winning in Northern NSW, he said it was a special moment to finally add a Walcha Cup to the mantlepiece.

“I’ve won plenty of races there at Walcha, but I’ve never won the cup,” Morton said. 

“We have plenty of cups in our trophy room, and of all the cups, it’s not the Port (Macquarie) Cup, Coffs Harbour Cup, or Taree Cup I wanted most, but I always wanted a Walcha Cup, and now at 74 years of age, I have it.

“I was like a six-year-old kid with his first bike. I held the cup in the air, and you couldn’t take the smile off my face.”

It was a huge day at Walcha, and the $40,000 Ron Martin Memorial Maiden over the 1000m journey was taken out by the Pat Farrell-trained Lanks (Brooke Stower, $4.80), while the $35,000 Graziers Cup, which is a 1000m Class Two Handicap, was won by the Allan Kehoe-trained Barney Rabble (Ray Spokes, $3.60). 

The $35,000 Lightning Handicap for the open class horses over 1000m saw the Sterling Osland team keep up their good form, with Bullinachinashop (Mikayla Weir, $4.60) winning for connections. 

For Friday’s results click here and for Saturday’s results click here