Rookie Tom Morley goes from one horse to Breeders’ Cup in only four years

In 2013 Tom Morley, the nephew of the late Newmarket trainer David Morley and brought up on the North York Moors, realised a long held ambition to set up training horses; his wife Maggie Wolfendale Morley was hot-walker and rider, he was the trainer and groom, they they had one horse, one bridle and rather than old York they based themselves in New York.

Now in his fourth season Morley has 30 stalls at Belmont, will take 20 in New Orleans for the winter and, on Saturday, he will saddle the favourite, Haveyougoneaway, who gave him his first Grade One when she won the Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga, in the Fillies’ and Mares’ Sprint, a race bumped up to the third last on the $28m Breeders’ Cup card.

Morley’s first owner was a roofer from New Jersey, Haveyougoneaway is part-owned by Gary Barber, CEO and Chairman of MGM; whichever way you look at it he has come a long way in a short space of time

The five-year-old mare which has brought him to the 33rd Breeders’ Cup has been in his yard only since late March. Running in open races in the Midwest, she was bought to make the most of the special programme in New York specifically for New York bred horses.

“The original mission was to recoup some of her purchase price from the lucrative state programme for New York breds but she’s gone way beyond that,” said Morley, 33. “She’s got scarily good.

Morley left England six years ago on the suggestion of Jeremy Noseda to whom he had been assistant for four years. Before that Morley had spent time with Ed Dunlop, Andrew Balding and preparing yearlings for the Lloyd-Webbers at Watership Down Stud. But he said he owed most to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Flying Start programme which crammed ‘10 years experience into two.’

Recalling why he crossed the Atlantic he explained: “Jeremy suggested I met some American owners, see their methods of training and had a look at US bloodlines. I came for 18 months but within six months I already began to think there might be an opportunity to stay.”

He met his wife, Maggie, from a well-known Maryland racing family and a paddock analyst for the New York Racing Association, five years ago this weekend and in a month’s time they are expecting their first child.

“Maggie said I was mad to run Haveyougoneaway when she was a 10-1 shot in a graded stakes but it was the only time I’ve got her to eat her words,” he explained. “She’s got better and better and ran three huge races in seven weeks.”

The mare comes here fresh having not run since the Ballerina at the end of August when she beat a lot of the fillies she will meet on Saturday. “She’s a deserving favourite, she won the biggest trial on the east coast, she’s beaten most of them and a one-turn seven furlongs – that’s her game. I don’t think she’ll mind Santa Anita. She’s a well-travelled mare. But I’m under no illusions – we’re not three lengths clear of the rest but she looks awesome and has trained fantastically.”

Does Morley, whose father part-owned the Ascot Gold Cup winner Celeric, miss home?  “Of course but I’m very happy,” he said. “I still haven’t taken Maggie to the North York Moors. It’s very rural. When I was brought up I either had a gun in my hand or was on the back of a horse. It’s a long way from New York. I’d love to take Maggie back there in August when the heather is out and York’s Ebor meeting is on.”

“I wanted to become a trainer the day I saw Lochsong bolt to the start of the Nunthorpe when I was aged 12. I’d have got the place-pot up but for her but it was the raw power she showed going to the start. I’ve never wanted to do anything else since.”