Day At The Track

Stormy Morn - a $150 deal of the century

10:06 PM 12 Jan 2009 NZDT
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Stormy Morn Stormy Morn
Stormy Morn - winning the 1982 Rowe Cup.
Stormy Morn - winning the 1981 NZ Free-For-All in record time.

Sold for $150 as riding hack after failing to show promise as a youngster, Stormy Morn gained a reprieve and began atoning for his early disgrace after being produced for racing as a late three-year-old by Belfast horseman Trevor Thomas.

Jimmy Moore, Of Christchurch, and bred Stormy Morn by Westland King from the Stormyway mare Stormytime. A smart but unsound trotter, Westland King had only night starts over four seasons, winning five of them. His 2:08 2/5 against time as a two-year-old in 1966 stood until lowered to 2:06.1 in 1981 by Mister Square, and his 2:12 1/5 for a non-tote race win remained as the national mark for two-year-old trotter to time of writing.

Trained and developed by Jack Litten for P.K. (Kevin) Ryder, Westland King was by the imported Gold time horse Good land from Whitehaven, by the U. Scott - Worth Queen Horse King Scott and a great-grand-daughter of the Good imported pacing mare Bonilene.

Unraced, Stormytime was by the imported Volomite horse Stormyway from the unraced Costerville, by Grattan Loyal from the unraced Jacana, by Jack Potts from Pattie Bingen (winner of one care), by Nelson Bingen from lightly raced trotter Flower Bell, by imported Marvin Wilkes from a well-performed trotter Bellflower.

Bred at Oreti by J. Hamilton and raced by James Hamilton Jun, who trained her at Winton, Bellflower was by the Australian-bred Bellman (son of American-bred parents Judge Belden and Belle). Bellflower's Dam Mayflower was by throughbred Silvermark from an unnamed daughter of Berlin and an unnamed daughter of Vancleve.

Bellflower's eight wins as a trotter included several saddle victories over good pacers at Addington in 1916 and 1917. She founded an outstanding winning family and one of its more recent starts was 1977 Interdominion winner Stanley Rio, son of Jacana's daughter Jacanadale.

Trevor Thomas, son of Lou Thomas (of Glenrossie and County Antrim fame) produced Stormy Morn for his first win for Peter Moore (son of the breeder) as a four-year-old in October 1978. that season his 19 starts yielded four wins and 15 placing.

After winning at Addington in August 1979 ad twice at Greymonth the following October, Stormy Morn gained fifths in the Worthy Queen and Dominion Handicaps of his five-year-old campaign. He then won at Manawatu Raceway and notched a double at the Auckland Christmas meeting, in one of his Auckland wins in a national record of 3:34.5 for 2700 metres from a stand. Next he won the Stewards' Mile in 2:03.4 Addington at New Year.

Taken to the 1980 Sydney Interdominions, Stormy Morn was second in a heat and unplaced after bad racing luck in the final won by Hano Direct. Left with Melbourne trainer Kevin Innes, he won the Bendigo Trotting Cup and a minor event at Moonee Valley, the latter in track-record time Back in New Zealand he placed third to Special Pride and Cool Cat in the 1980 Rowe Cup.

At age six Stormy Morn beat all but Scotch Tar in the 1980 Dominion Handicap and soon after was transferred to the Pukekohe stable of Tony Perucich. A former Jockey with trotting experience under Cecil Devine and Jack Hughes, Perucich had already enjoyed success as a trainer-driver with the smart pacer Trio. For Thomas Stormy Morn raced 54 times for 12 wins, 34 placings and just over $50,000.

After a few outings for Perucich, Stormy Morn was dispatched to Melbourne for the 1981 Australasian Trotting Championship under the guidance of former Queensland trainer Jim O' Sullivan. He won a free-for-all at Moonee Valley on 11 February 1981, a heat of the Championship on 14 February, a free-for-all at Cranbourne on 23 February and the $30, 00 Championship Final at Moonee Valley on 28 February from No Response in a track-record 4:24.8 for 3300 metres.

His Australian earnings from 10 starts on that visit totalled $33,040, and with another win and several placing from awkward marks back in the Auckland district before season's end he edged his earnings past $100, 000.

First win for Stormy Morn as a seven-year-old came in the $15,000 Benson and Hedges Inter-Island Trot at Alexandra Park on 24 October 1981. Taken to Addington he won the New Zealand Trotting free-for-all in the national record 3:21.3 for 2600 metre mobile.

In the $40,000 1981 Dominion Handicap, Stormy Morn led from 1800 metres out the after fighting off all challengers held on the prevail by a half-head from Came Way. At Christmas he won the National Trot and Easton Light Trot at Alexandra Park, and then it was back for another Australasian Championship bid with Jim O' Sullivan.

Second first-up on this Australasian trip, Stormy Morn comfortable won his next five starts, four of them at Moonee Valley. These wins included two heats of the Championship, but in the final he wound up fourth after racing wide. His third Australasian Campaign boosted his earnings by $21,960.

Back home Stormy Morn's total New Zealand earning to the end of 1981/81 ($139,930) eclipsed Scotch Tar's $135,850, while to this sum had to be added his Australasian earning of $62,058. In total his record stood at 109 starts, 31 wins, 52 placing and $201,988.

Ron BISMAN

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