Waltham trainer Kelly Morgan lands huge Aintree win

Kelly and jockey Tabitha Worsley share a word after their brilliant Foxhunter Chase win EMN-190904-174019002
Kelly and jockey Tabitha Worsley share a word after their brilliant Foxhunter Chase win EMN-190904-174019002
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Racehorse trainer Kelly Morgan is yet to come down to earth after landing the biggest win of her career at Aintree last week.

Kelly, who works for Johnny Weatherby at Withcote, near Oakham, saddled Top Wood to a brilliant two-length victory in the Foxhunters’ Chase last Thursday.

Kelly Morgan leads Top Wood past celebrating punters at Aintree EMN-190904-174008002

Kelly Morgan leads Top Wood past celebrating punters at Aintree EMN-190904-174008002

The 12-year-old, ridden by Tabitha Worsley, thrived over the big Grand National fences.

Having lost the lead at the elbow, approaching the run-in, he fought back and was pulling away at the line.

The Foxhunters is one of three big races at Aintree’s three-day meeting and was watched by a TV audience of more than 1.2 million.

But the dust had barely settled before it was back to the graft of the day job.

“It hasn’t even sunk in yet,” she said. “People have been sending congratulations, it’s kind of overwhelming; it was an incredible day.

“We had four mares down to foal. One came on Friday and then another on Sunday and two to come, so we’ve not had a chance to stop and think about it.”

Top Wood finished second in the Foxhunters’ at Cheltenham last year, and third in 2019, and is no stranger to the winners’ enclosure, but Kelly was not sure how he would cope on his Aintree debut.

“He had never run over the fences and you never know how they are going to take to them,” she explained.

“Aintree is the toughest race for the amateur. They have got to travel, they have got to jump, and the Foxhunter is only two miles and five furlongs so it’s a quick race and there’s no room for error.

“But once he had jumped three or four and had got into a rhythm I knew he would be alright.

“He was really tough. He got headed, but stuck his neck out and fought back.”

She added: “Top Wood will tell us if he wants to run again this season or not.

“He is 12 now so we may give him one more run before the season finishes.”

Kelly enjoyed decent point-to-point success as a jockey, but moved into training around five years ago.

She earned her full trainer’s licence last October and has made a flying start since then.

The small Rutland yard of five horses has celebrated a win on the flat, as well as a steeplechase and two bumpers before the win at the world-famous track.

“It’s been a fantastic first season and we have had a real variety of winners,” Kelly added.

“We had a listed bumper winner in December, but to go there and win such a prestigious race is fantastic.”

It’s clear horse racing is firmly embedded in the Morgan genes.

Both parents have a long pedigree in the sport, while Kelly’s brother Tom enjoyed considerable point-to-point success as a trainer, and sister Laura is also succeeding under rules as a trainer at the family’s Waltham home.

Both siblings made the trip to Liverpool, but mum Carol had to settle for an armchair view of the race on TV.

“I think we are born and bred into horses so it was the only way it was going to go,” Kelly said.

“Becoming a trainer was a natural progression after race riding and learning that way.

“I was never going to be a jockey because it’s really hard making it as a girl, so training was something I was aiming for.

“Luckily Johnny wanted to have the horses at home so it’s worked out well for us both.”