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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Three of Sam Morshead's greatest successes in the saddle

Sam Morshead: enjoyed great success as a rider
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Royal Frolic, Greenall Whitley Chase, Haydock, 1976

Morshead was still riding as an amateur and claiming 3lb when he enjoyed the first big win of his career on Royal Frolic in the 1976 Greenall Whitley Breweries Handicap Chase at Haydock.

The seven-year-old had been successful on three of his four completed starts that season, including in a limited handicap at Wolverhampton when Morshead was on board, and he was clearly improving at a rate of knots.

Nevertheless, few anticipated him beating a strong field in such style for having been in front from the sixth fence he scored eased down by ten lengths from Barona in a field that included Red Rum.

Just 12 days later Royal Frolic won a firm-ground Cheltenham Gold Cup by five lengths from Brown Lad, although on this occasion stable jockey John Burke was back on board.

Very Promising, Panama Cigar Hurdle Final, Chepstow, 1983

The Panama Cigar Hurdle Final was a prestigious affair and attracted a strong field despite its proximity to Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices’ three days later.

With four wins under his belt already, Very Promising was plainly living up to his name, yet he was second favourite here behind the unbeaten Fred Winter youngster Deep Wealth, who was sent off odds-on.

Deep Wealth sadly suffered a fatal fall three out but did not appear to be travelling as well at the time as Very Promising, who took up the running two out and came right away on the run-in to beat Gambir by 15 lengths, with the rest well strung out.

Very Promising (left) finishes second to Pearlyman in the 1987 Champion Chase

The following month Very Promising confirmed he was one of the season’s outstanding novices in the Knowsley Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, where he responded well after Morshead kicked on at the fourth-last and scored convincingly by five lengths from Connaught River.

Gaye Chance, Waterford Crystal Stayers’ Hurdle, Cheltenham, 1984

Morshead partnered Gaye Chance throughout a stunning 1981-82 season when his eight wins in a campaign that began ignominiously with defeat at Worcester in September included victories in the Philip Cornes Saddle of Gold Final, the Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle and the Royal Doulton Handicap Hurdle.

He was also on board for further hurdle wins the following season and two in novice chases the one after that, including an emotional victory in the Fred Rimell Memorial Novices’ Chase at Worcester.

However, having failed to reach the anticipated level over fences, Gaye Chance was returned to hurdles midway through the 1983-84 season.

Following defeat of Crimson Embers in Kempton’s Rendlesham Hurdle, Gaye Chance went to post a 5-1 shot for an unusually open-looking Waterford Crystal Stayers’ Hurdle and won well. Held up just behind the leaders, he was always travelling easily and moved to the front at the second-last before holding on gamely under pressure from Goldspun and Daring Run. He was Morshead’s third, and last, Cheltenham Festival winner.


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Gaye Chance went to post a 5-1 shot for an unusually open-looking Waterford Crystal Stayers’ Hurdle and won well
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