Allan Morley has a bit of inside knowledge on what it takes to win a Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) as he prepares for his first tilt at the Ellerslie feature on Saturday.
A blacksmith and saddler by trade, the Byerley Park trainer prepares just the one horse, Blue Breeze, who is rated a $16 chance on the Fixed Odds betting for the Barfoot & Thompson-sponsored feature, and he has been using some of his vast experience with horses to have the five-year-old son of Bullbars at his peak for the Saturday’s test.
Morley has an equestrian background, but his experience with thoroughbreds goes back many years and includes a stint working for Neville Atkins, a trainer at Waiuku whose stable included multiple Group 1 winners Ring The Bell and Secured Deposit.
“I was working for Neville at the time he had both Ring The Bell and Secured Deposit,’’ Morley said.
‘’I remember the day Secured Deposit won the Auckland Cup. We just about got the big double that day as Neville’s horse (War Like) was just beaten in the Railway.
“Actually, Blue Breeze reminds me a bit of Ring The Bell, but he’s a smaller version of him.”
Morley has kept in contact with Atkins since he shifted to Queensland and he has been given a confidence-booster over his prospects with Blue Breeze.
“Blue Breeze is only a lightly framed horse. He weighs only 445 kilos and there’s nothing of him, but he eats like anything,’’ Morley said.
‘’I’ve told Neville about him and all he said was ‘you never see any fat on those African marathon runners so don’t worry. Just make sure he’s fit as he’s got to go 3200m.’
‘’He’s right. It’s the heart that counts. The other day when he ran second in the Avondale Cup (Group 2, 2400m) going into the back after the finish he laid his ears back and wanted to go again when another horse came up alongside. He’s out of a St Reims mare and I think he can get the 3200m.’’
Blue Breeze almost caused a major boilover in the Avondale Cup when going down a mere half-head to Glory Days at odds of 56/1 and he was at even longer odds when he finished third in the Group 3 Counties Cup (2100m) at Pukekohe.
In both of those significant placings Blue Breeze was ridden by Chris Dell, who has again been entrusted with the ride in the Auckland Cup.
‘’I’ve known Chris since he was a kid. I used to judge him in the showring,’’ Morley said. ‘’He knows Blue Breeze well and he’s got a good record on him. He’s had four rides on him for a win and two placings.’’
Morley resisted the temptation to run Blue Breeze at Ellerslie last Saturday, deciding to go straight from the Avondale Cup into the Auckland Cup with the three-race winner. “He’s that well and I didn’t want to push him over the top,’’ Morley said.
‘’He’s best with his races two weeks apart and, though this will be three weeks, I did give him a jump-out at Pukekohe last Friday. Chris rode him and he ran third or fourth over 1000m. He was five lengths last and flew home and it took Chris until well round the back straight to pull him up.
“He’s that well. My trackwork rider reckons he’s improved, but he’s hard to read at times. He’s so quiet and so gentle. He loves it when my grandchildren are around him. He’s got such a lovely nature, but he knows how to run, too.’’
Blue Breeze is named after the popular Auckland restaurant in Ponsonby and Morley said there’s a good chance he and his group of owners will end up there on Saturday night if he runs a slasher in the Auckland Cup.