Prelude deja vu?
By TONY WHITE
PORT Macquarie trainer Tas Morton isn't superstitious, but hopes it will be a case of deja vu for Extra Dollars in the $12,000 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup Prelude (2200m) at Grafton today.
The five-year-old will be looking to win back to back Preludes and gain a start in next Thursday's $160,000 XXXX Gold Grafton Cup (2400m).
This time last year Extra Dollars scored a surprise win in the Prelude ? surprise to many, but not to former war veteran, Morton and owner and close friend, Bob Laing.
A year older, 'a lot stronger', Morton suggests, the now five-year-old will be ridden by Adam Nicholls and has drawn perfectly in barrier two.
Morton, as was the case last year, has given the gelding shorter lead up races leading into the Prelude, a plan he believes is the key to Extra Dollars.
"His last couple of runs over unsuitable distances were good until he failed at Ballina," Morton said.
"While I wasn't there, I was in Sydney, I don't think he handled the track that day (June 12).
"He missed the start, had to be hunted up and just didn't fire.
"The horse has done exceptionally well since then. I'm really happy with him.
"He's matured since last year, is stronger and we're quietly confident he can run very well and win our way into the cup and give that a shake too."
Extra Dollars has had only one start over the 2200m at Grafton winning last year's Prelude.
Morton doesn't give the gelding a lot of trackwork preferring to exercise Extra Dollars with swimming and beach work.
The grey gelding has 'dappled up' Morton said despite having a winter coat.
Morton and Laing have been close mates for many years, their daughters competing in pony clubs and show events together.
"When they grew up I decided to take up training again and Bob wanted to come into some horses with me," Morton said.
"Our first horse was Cosmic Copy, who won at Randwick and all over the place. We've had a bit of luck together."
Morton said he had just purchased a yearling full-brother to Extra Dollars (Beautiful Crown-Down Under Girl) at the William Inglis Classic sale for $20,000.
"He played up a bit before the sale and had a bit of swelling on his back legs and because of that I reckon we got him for half price," Morton said.
"He already stands 16.1 hands and is an exceptional yearling. Bob and I will race him but a couple of others want to come into the syndicate including Mick Doyle of Doyle's Seafood."
Morton will be looking for an early big race double over the carnival with Jenks contesting Sunday's $45,000 South Grafton Cup (1600m).