Remembering Morley Street

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As a sports writer for the Cecil Whig, perhaps the world’s smallest daily newspaper, in 1991 I picked up a rare horse assignment and headed to Fair Hill to see the foreign horses in town for the Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase.

Cheering News and Morley Street walked in a circle with their “lads” and headed out for a gallop. Had I done more research, I would have known Morley Street’s reputation and paid more attention but he made a lasting impression.

He looked fast. He looked good. Despite the trip across the Atlantic, he looked rested. A chestnut with blazing eyes and a smart face, Morley Street had dazzled American steeplechasing the year before when he won the 1990 Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park. But I didn’t see that race and nor did I have a chance to see Morley Street up close.

Well, he impressed me and anyone else at Fair Hill when he ran away with another Breeders’ Cup. Zoom, he was gone – flying home to win easily over mere mortals Declare Your Wish and his fellow international runner Cheering News.

The American victories only confirmed his greatness. Back home in England, he won four consecutive runnings of the Aintree Hurdle (1990-93, at the Grand National meeting in April), and the famed Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham (1991).

Last year, we looked at the greatest campaigns in American steeplechase history to compare Good Night Shirt’s 5-for-5 season to some of the best ever. Morley Street’s 1991 campaign stands up against any season. He started by winning a hurdle race at Newbury, took the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, won the Aintree Hurdle, finished second in a Group III on the flat at Doncaster, won the Breeders’ Cup in October and also won a hurdle race at Ascot. That’s five hurdle wins, three of them in major races, on two continents.

Trained by Toby Balding, the son of Deep Run passed away last week at age 25, making anyone who saw him recall the greatness – especially if their next reporting assignment was a high school soccer game.