Dan’s the Man in Eye Liner

Racing’s centre-stage moves to Royal Ascot this week and Perth trainer Dan Morton doesn’t need any reminders as to what he was doing in 2009.

It was 10 years ago – almost to the day – that Morton added to Australia’s honour-board at Royal Ascot when his sprinting star Scenic Blast won the G1 King’s Stand Stakes.

They were heady times for Morton who earlier that year won the Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Hcp at Flemington with Scenic Blast, while another of his stable stars in Scenic Shot had won a Doomben Cup, P J O’Shea Stakes and Brisbane Cup at the winter carnival.

Fast forward to June 2019 and Morton swapped a top hat and tails with an open neck shirt as he cheered home Man Booker in the LR Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) at Ipswich on Saturday. It was the 6yo gelding’s first black type victory in the east after six stakes successes at home including the G2 WA Guineas.

Man Booker is by former Yarradale Stud stallion Discorsi and the Eye Liner sent his earnings past the $1 million mark.

Unfortunately for connections, the trip to Queensland hadn’t turned out quite as planned with Man Booker finishing well back in the Doomben 10,000, Kingsford Smith Cup and Stradbroke Hcp. But first prize of $103,000 in the Eye Liner was a more than worthy consolation prize.

“Now at least we can afford to take him home,” Morton joked on Saturday. “I will spell Man Booker in Queensland before bringing him back to Perth where his main target will be the Railway Stakes in November.”

Man Booker continues an incredible run for Korilya Stud breeder Ellie Giles who is also responsible for, in recent times, Man Booker’s stakes winning half-brother Achernar Star (Gingerbread Man), G1 William Reid Stakes winner Silent Sedition (War Chant) and G2 Sapphire Stakes winner Quilista (Scandal Keeper).

That trio are also by stallions based at Yarradale.

Interestingly, Australian racing’s latest equine millionaire was actually passed-in for $20,000 at the 2014 Perth Magic Millions before being re-offered at the Magic Millions Winter Sale where he was snapped up by Morton for $25,000.

“Man Booker wasn’t that fashionably bred – there was no Achernar Star at that stage – but he was a lovely type and Grant Burns from Magic Millions put me on to him,” Morton told Aushorse. “He’s certainly been worth every penny!”

Now, while it’s unlikely that Morton will be making any trips to Royal Ascot with Man Booker, he would like to return one day.

“It was a fantastic experience and, no, we didn’t get to meet the Queen – somebody must have given her the heads up we were Australians,” he laughed. “I just wish the Aussies all the best. It’s something they won’t forget in a hurry.”