By Julieanne Horsman
Young Tamworth trainer Luke Morgan has only had his license for 18 months but already has a strike rate the most seasoned trainers would envy.
From his last fifteen runners he’s celebrated ten wins and he’s got a good chance to add to that tally at Grafton on Sunday.
The former jockey and saddle bronc rider will start much-improved Four More Millers in the Pacific Highway Runners Reunion Return To Racing Handicap (1000m) in which the gelding will be shooting for his fifth straight win.
Morgan bought Four More Millers off an auction site for just $4000 after he failed to break his maiden in 24 starts for a Sydney trainer. He also had a ban on him for bucking out the gates. But with a background in rodeo and horse breaking Morgan saw both a challenge and an opportunity.
“He showed plenty of character when he arrived,” Morgan said. “But we played around with him, showed him some TLC and gave him some jump outs and he began to respond.”
The turnaround in Four More Millers was nothing short of exceptional. He went from finishing last in a maiden at Orange in April to first by five-and-a-half lengths in a maiden at Tamworth in December.
He followed that up with another three wins and remains unbeaten since he’s been in Morgan’s care.
“I never imagined he’d go through his grades like he has,” Morgan said. “I only have a small stable with a great little team and I think he appreciates the more hands on approach that offers.”
Four More Millers will face the strongest field of his career so far on Sunday and with regular jockey Josh Oliver out suspended Ben Looker will have his first sit on the horse but Morgan is confident he will be competitive.
“He deserves his chance against open class horses,” Morgan said. “The horse he beat in his last start, Knight Templar, has won ten races including the two immediately before so he’s a pretty handy sprinter. We did have the pull in the weights but it was encouraging to see him beat that class of horse.”
Four More Millers gets in well at the weights on Sunday and will carry the minimum of 54kg.
“I couldn’t be happier with him at the moment but I am going there with an open mind,” Morgan said. “He’s matured out of sight in the last six months and he just keeps stepping up. There are some good sprinters in the race who will put some speed on early and the big open Grafton track ensures every horse gets its opportunity. Most of the horses in the race are winning chances.”
Luke is the younger brother of Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan who took out the Country Championships Wildcard last year. The work side by side and help each other out.
“He always seems to beat me when we come up against each other though,” Luke joked.
Both brothers enjoyed successful careers as jockeys until weight struggles forced them to give it away. They then travelled the world riding in rodeos before returning home to Tamworth.
Luke now operates his horse breaking and pre-training business from his 30 acre property just 5km from Tamworth Racecourse.