By Tony Megahey
Celebrated Vietnam war veteran and regional real estate agent Tas Morton is completely 'sold' on the form line and prospects for performed Mister Smartee ($8.50 into $7.50 on TAB fixed odds) at Tuesday’s Grafton TAB meeting.
“He’s flying - any luck at Taree he could have beaten Tarbert, and it ran second to Baller at Randwick on Saturday. He's levels above this and he broke a 20-year-old track record bolting in at Kempsey,” enthused Port Macquarie’s Morton, a regional racing institution.
“This horse could easily have won his last three, we’ve planned a city mid-weeker the way he’s racing - they don’t come any honest or tougher.”
The five-year-old Smart Missile gelding is a super money-spinner for Tas with five wins, eight placings from 27 starts and near $125,000 prizemoney into the Ride Like a Girl 1600m Open with 57kg for Andrew Spinks.
Spinks replaces apprentices Liam Blanch and Jenny Duggan from Mister Smartee’s latest starts and an extreme outside barrier is of no consequence according to Tas.
“We’ll get across, lead or take a sit, this horse has gate speed and led on his ear in that 1400m win at Kempsey.
“Last start he had 63.5kg before we claimed with a kid and he drops back to 57kg for a senior rider.
“Inexperienced apprentices can be victims of circumstances, but you know that when you claim.”
Tas, who trains just a small team of five gallopers out of 'Port', is also represented by stablemate O’Driscoll ($5.50).
“I’d have preferred not to clash, but there was nothing else suitable and we’re looking towards the Port Macquarie Cup with both of them.
“He did run a real nice fourth in a Canterbury mid-weeker, a really nice horse.
“They’re building top records, I think both are up to city mid-week grade.”
Mister Smartee will be popular in the market where’s there’s a multitude of race wins in a capacity open handicap field. Editors is currently the favourite at $4.
Tas has also enjoyed city success in rare trips to Sydney. His most notable when he won at Royal Randwick on Anzac Day of 2007 with the well-backed Jenks.
It was the odd occasion when Tas missed the traditional 'Port' march, tribute and two-up day. But his cashed-up mates celebrated long and loud.
Plenty of them will be aboard Mister Smartee on Tuesday.