Tamworth trainer Cody Morgan has continued his domination of the Hunter and North West Country Championships (1400m) with Anethole booking his place in next month's final, but his job isn't over just yet.
It was Morgan's third success in the $150,000 feature at his home track in the past four years, following Unbiased (2019) and Ligulate (2020).
But the barrier draw and a heavy track respectively forced Morgan to scratch his two big guns, Edit and Wren's Day, from the Tamworth race on Sunday and they will be part of what promises to be the race of the Country Championships series in the $50,000 Wild Card (1400m) at Scone on March 20.
Anethole ($9), ridden by Sydney's premier apprentice Tom Sherry, had a long neck to spare at the finish over Cameron Crockett-trained Commando Hunt ($11), who also booked his spot in the final, with favourite Banju ($3.70) half a length away third after a wide run.
An emotional Morgan said he felt the pressure of expectation coming into the race but is grateful for the support of Australian Bloodstock who syndicated the former Godolphin gelding.
"Luke (Murrell) and Jamie (Lovett) have given me such an opportunity in the last few years and I feel like I've underachieved for them, I really do,'' Morgan said.
"I need to get these results on the board."
Along with his three Hunter and North West wins, Morgan also qualified Pelerin in 2017 for the Country Championships final via the wild card.
Five-year-old Anethole is now an $8 chance with TAB in the $500,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 2.
Morgan said the gap between runs has been the key to the "really tough" horse, who was narrowly beaten by South East Country Championships winner Testator Silens at his previous start, and not needing to go to Scone to qualify is huge for his chances.
Sherry took full advantage of barrier one on Anethole and was able to enjoy a soft run behind the leader. Things became a bit tight early in the straight but that proved to be a blessing given he'd ridden the horse in three of his previous four starts.
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