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By Graham Potter | Thursday, February 8, 2024

You just never know in racing.

It is so easy for a trainer or owners to decide to move an underperforming horse on, not realising they might just be making that move one or two runs too early.

Take the case of the Scott Morrisey trained Tikka Ready ... a story of a horse who has turned things around in no uncertain terms.

Morrisey was getting ready to send Tikka Ready to Wayne Baker in Roma after the gelding, who had returned from a close on six-month break from race action, finished unplaced in all seven of his starts between March and December 2023.

Now, just two months later, after his latest success at Eagle Farm on Wednesday, Tikka Ready has put four successive wins on the board in scintillating fashion, winning from the front, winning from a tailed off last in the running, winning of a good surface, winning of soft going, showing highly competitive fighting qualities ... basically going from strength to strength in a manner that nobody could have seen coming.

And the horse is still with Morrisey, all because he decided to give Tikka Ready one last chance before packing him off to Roma.

‘He’s a funny horse. He has had a few issues. I rang Wayne when I was going out to Ipswich the day Tikka Ready ran third (the run before the winning sequence started),” explained Morrisey. “I said there is an 800m race today and another one in a couple of weeks ... if he doesn’t win one of those, he’s all yours.

“A couple of owners wanted out and I said to them, just let me give him two more runs over what I thought was his ideal distance ... the 800m, 900m ... and, after that, if he has done nothing ... for sure, we’ll move him on.

“Wayne rang me after the horse finished third and said he went well. Another couple of hops and he would have won that. I said to Wayne, I’ve still got to give him that other one ... and he said it was all good, just to let him know when I was ready.

‘When Tikka Ready won that next start, Wayne ran me laughing and I said I’ve got to keep him going now. We had a little bit of a chuckle about it.

“I was pretty confident going into that race but, given the run he had in the race it was a pretty big win. He just jumped out of the ground the last 100m.

“There wasn’t much else on after that, so we had to step him up to a longer trip in metro racing.

“He’s now won all three in town. We thought maybe ride him a touch quieter if they ran along. That’s how we rode him at his next start ... then he led all the way at his start after that ... and then he came from behind again yesterday,” said Morrisey,

‘Came from behind’ is an understatement. Tikka Ready was all but tailed off midway through the sweep to the home turn ... over 1000m ... all of four lengths off the second last horse.

Tikka Ready did make ground, saving ground, to range up to the main body of runners halfway up the straight, where regular jockey Yvette Lewis deftly angled her mount off the rail to the centre of the track where the son of Better Than Ready kept coming. surging over the final 150m, getting up late to win a race from what had seemed to be an impossible position for much of the running.

“I followed the leaders at first, then I went back through the field expecting to see him box-seating and I carried on going through the field thinking where is he? I eventually found him about four lengths behind the second last horse and I thought, how did you get back there?

"And that’s not all I thought. I also thought, oh well, the bubble will pop today ... that’s exactly what I thought ... and then obviously he sneaked back into it,” said Morrisey, on what it was like watching the race from his perspective.

A pivotal point was that nice little manoeuvre halfway up the straight by apprentice Yvette Lewis when she angled Tikka Ready out into the centre of the track, where the horse had a chance to let down.

“The good thing is that she (Lewis) took her time doing it too,” said Morrisey, “so she lost no momentum doing it. She just gradually did it, which is a sign of a good rider. If you go left too quickly ... well, you’re going left and they are going straight, you lost that momentum.

“It was a good ride all round.”

While Tikka Ready has had to do the work, there is no doubt his growing confidence is related to the partnership that has developed between horse and rider with Lewis having been in the saddle for all of Tikka Ready’s last five starts ... that third place and four straight wins ... results for which Lewis deserves every credit.

“Tikka Ready and Yvette get on very well together. He’s going to get beaten sooner or later,” said Morrisey, “he can’t win forever, but whether he gets beaten next start, or not, both of them have done a great job together.”

Two wins from his first sixteen starts and seemingly starting to struggle ... and now four wins from his next five starts, that’s the developing story of Tikka Ready.

As stated at the outset ... you just never known in racing.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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