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Laura Morgan insists it would be ‘unbelievable’ for her family run yard if Clear The Runway could find the back of the net for former Nottingham Forest star Alan Rogers and secure her a first Cheltenham winner on day two of The Showcase (Saturday 22nd October) in the 888Sport Handicap Chase.
Having celebrated numerous winners at the Home of Jump Racing while working as travelling head girl to Jonjo O’Neill, the 36 year old now hopes she can taste her own piece of glory at the track with the improving Jet Away gelding in the two-mile feature.
Not only would the victory be a memorable one for both Morgan and owner Rogers, who also played for the likes of Leicester City and Tranmere Rovers, but for her wider family, which includes sister-in-law Lizzie Harris and her six year old niece Olivia Morgan.
Clear The Runway will enter the race chasing a six-timer following a brace of wins at Southwell, plus victories at Market Rasen, Cartmel and last time out at Worcester, where he defeated Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup winner Global Citizen.
Morgan, who is based at Waltham On The Wolds in Leicestershire, said: “I’ve not had too many runners at Cheltenham as I don’t really like going there with horses that haven’t got a chance.
“I had a few run at The Festival last season as a couple of owners wanted the day out and they pay the bills so you have got to be with them.
“Hasankey ran a blinder to finish sixth in the Grand Annual but it is great to go there with one that has a chance.
“Clear The Runway has been an extremely consistent horse. Early on, I was getting it all wrong but he really has gone from strength-to-strength.
“His best performance was last time which came off the back of a break. He had the Grand Annual winner behind (Global Citizen).
“Some people have crabbed the form but it was still a 0-150 and at the end of the day you still had a Grand Annual winner in behind and he absolutely bolted in.
“He is only six and has been very consistent. Everybody loves him and he is definitely a favourite in the yard.
“My niece Olivia leads him round the yard and held him while he was clipped the other day and she adores him.
“My sister-in-law Lizzie Harris does everything with him while my brother Tommy (Morgan) shoes him and when my mum is here she helps out as well.
“It is a massive family thing here and I don’t know what I would say if he won but for a small yard it would be unbelievable and it would mean so much to all the staff.”
Clear The Runway with Olivia Morgan
Last season Morgan, who is the daughter of former trainer Kevin Morgan, saddled her best ever total after sending out 34 winners – a total she hopes to better this season.
However, while excelling in her own right she has put much of what she has gone on to achieve down to what she learned during her spell working under Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer and jockey Jonjo O’Neill.
She said: “We have already had 21 winners this season and my aim is to try to get to 40 or 45 winners by the end of the season. Hopefully we can achieve that if the horses stay healthy.
“I had a great time working at Jonjo’s and I was involved with More Of That when he won what was the World Hurdle at the time and the likes of Taquin De Seuil and Johns Spirit.
“My two babies were Get Me Out Of Here, who finished second in the 2010 Supreme and Shutthefrontdoor. It is great seeing Jonjo having some real fire power again this season which is exciting for them.
“What I learned there was invaluable really. Both Jonjo and Jacqui were fantastic and it has really stood me in good stead.”
Social media is playing an ever increasing role in the sport and it was through Twitter that Morgan first touched base with Rogers, who she describes as both a ‘real character’ and an ‘ideal sort of owner’.
She added: “Alan sent me a message on Twitter, although I’m pretty useless with my phone as it always without battery, which is a bit of a standing joke up here!
“I replied to him and it went on from there really. He has now sent us a good few horses now. He is a real character, but he leaves everything to me and that is the ideal sort of owner.
“There is no pressure with him and going into a big meeting like this not having that sort of pressure on you from an owner is great.
“He is putting his hand in his pocket to buy good horses and he starting to wheedle out the lesser horses as he wants runners on the big days.”
While Clear The Runway, who is affectionately known in the yard as Jumbo, enters the race in sparkling form, Morgan believes his chances of victory are further increased with close friend, and jockey, Adam Wedge taking the ride.
She added: “I’m just praying they don’t have too much rain as he does prefer it on the quicker side but we have got a top man on board in Adam Wedge.
“I led him up in his first ever point-to-point so I have known him for years. He is more like a mate than just a jockey.
“Clear The Runway appears to be in great shape and full of it so we will just keep our fingers crossed.
“It is an undulating track but I can’t see why he won’t take to it and a stiff two miles should be right up his street.”