Checkers another Morton triumph for trainers

Craig Grylls guiding Checkers to a strong win at Matamata last Wednesday.

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman know how to win good races for Queensland’s Morton family.

Baker prepared Prized Gem for Mrs Billie Morton to win nine races and over $1 million with the highlights being a couple of Group Ones, the  Brisbane Cup and the Kelt Capital Stakes (both in 2002).

He then produced Prized Gem’s son, Nom du Jeu, to win the Gr.1 Australian Derby and be runner-up in the 2008 Gr.1 Caulfield Cup after finishing second to Princess Coup in the Gr.1 Stoney Bridge Stakes (1600m) and third to Princess Coup and Red Ruler in the Gr.1 Kelt Capital Stakes (2040m).

Baker and Forsman were then to the fore with Neo (by One Cool Cat) winning the 2012 Gr.2 Wellington Guineas and recording several black-type placings for Morton’s son, Glenn, and his wife, Lisa.

And at Matamata last Wednesday the Baker-Forsman stable continued the link when training Checkers, a son of Nom du Jeu owned by Glenn and Lisa Morton, to register his first win in the Pearson Engineering 1200.

Checkers had been placed in his other two starts, finishing second on debut to In Fashion at Wanganui last month then third to First Rock at Matamata a fortnight ago, and he did well to score this week after being trapped wide throughout.

‘’He was three and four-wide the whole way so it was a big effort,’’ said Forsman after the race. ‘’He’d just been a bit weak, but he wasn’t weak today. He could develop into a nice three-year-old.’’

Glenn and Lisa Morton have already celebrated international major race success as breeders with Neo’s half-brother Ping Hai Star (by Nom du Jeu), who won two of his Australian starts known as Ted and later won the 2018 Hong Kong Derby after being sold to clients of John Size’s stable.

Now another of their Nom du Jeu progeny could join the black type winners list with Checkers being a likely candidate for feature races this year.

“We’ve pegged him as a Guineas horse for next season but meantime he could be a chance in a race like the Champagne Stakes over 1600m,’’ said Forsman. “He’s improving and could race on a bit more this campaign.’’

The Listed $50,000 Buffalo & Co Champagne Stakes (1600m) is at Ellerslie on April 20 and last year Baker and Forsman provided the quinella in the event which was switched to Pukekohe with Rubira beating Ole Ole.