Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan didn’t need to utter a word to show how much Unbiased’s win in Sunday’s $150,000 Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at his home course means to him.
Tears of joy flowed freely from the 33-year-old as the gelding, part-owned by his parents Glenn and Mary Morgan, won his way to the Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick next month - an illustration of the impact the Championships is making on country racing across the state.
Two years ago the Morgans won the Championships wild card with a horse called Pelerin but he suffered an injury in the Final and from that day Cody and his father Glenn vowed to find another horse.
They found Unbiased, an ex-Godolphin galloper and Morgan pulled off a training masterpiece to have the horse ready first-up after winning the Gunnedah Cup nine months ago – necessary due to him already having 20 starts.
“Dad just loved that horse Pelerin. I’m a real softy and I’d never seen my dad cry but when we were at Randwick Equine and we had to make the decision it was the only time [I saw him cry],’’ Morgan said.
“I made a promise to myself. It mightn’t be with one of mum and dad’s [but] I’m going to make sure I get back there one day.
“When I saw him [Unbiased] at the 600m and he was tracking up behind them, I said to mum he’d be in the finish. It’s a dream come true. It means a lot.’’
Unbiased was given a perfect ride by Mitchell Bell, who won the inaugural Country Championships Final on Artlee, and because it was Bell in the saddle it made the moment even more fitting.
Cody and Mitchell obtained their jockey license on the same day and had their first race rides in the same race – Cody won that race but he concedes Mitchell is a much better rider than he ever was.
“Winning it for Cody means something because we started together and have a relationship going a long way back,’’ Bell said.
“When the scratchings came through and I knew I was coming out of (barrier) one it made my job so much easier.
"I just had to put the horse in the right place in running, Cody said he was up to the standard.’’
Morgan had four runners in the feature and of them he’s keen to target The Kosciuszko with the beaten favourite Anchois, who finished seventh, later this year.
“I know he’s that good,’’ Morgan said.
“He has such a high cruising speed and he was pretty much unbeaten until I took him to 1300m.’’
Unbiased is now an $11 chance with TAB for the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships Final (1400m) on April 6 while runner-up Tim’s Principal is also off to Randwick on the $26 line.
Tim’s Principal was ridden for luck from second last along the inside by Chad Lever.
He followed the winner through from the home turn and Scone trainer Jeremy Gask said there’s improvement to come.
“We thought we might be back there but he’s started to relax and that’s what we’ve been trying to achieve,’’ Gask said.
“It’s a great result, I have to think about what I’ll do between now and then.’’
Ray Hickson writes for Racing NSW at racingnsw.com.au