Morton's Silver Chief lining

Morton was arguably the unluckiest sprinter left standing when the music stopped with Thursday’s confirmation the eight The Phoenix slot holders had locked in their representatives for the world’s richest race.

Morton (B6) prevails in a thrilling three-way finish at The Meadows
Morton (B6) prevails in a thrilling three-way finish at The Meadows Picture: Jason Mckeon

The final domino fell with Sportsbet's announcement it would renew its partnership with dual Phoenix heroine Wow She's Fast for a third straight year.

That left boom youngster Morton, perhaps the most exciting prospect in the land, out in the cold.

Trained by Jason and Jessica Sharp, Morton, which doesn't turn two until December 31, has created a massive impression in winning eight of his 13 starts, excelling at The Meadows, the venue for next Saturday's (December 16) third running of the $1.65 million The Phoenix.

"I think it's his race to lose, even though he's drawn badly again." 

The son of former WA superstar Tommy Shelby has won six from eight at The Meadows, with two minor placings, recording a scintillating 29.55sec PB, the quickest run of the year at the track to date, on October 21.

"It's a great field and congratulations to the dogs that are in the race," said a diplomatic Jason Sharp.

While not wishing to comment further on The Phoenix process, Sharp is entitled to be disappointed, adding that Morton "would probably have to be rated the best dog at The Meadows in the last three months."

Morton hasn't been assisted at all with draws in his bid to push his claims for a Phoenix berth.

In fact, he's been hindered, exiting boxes five, four, six, seven and six in his last five outings.

He's overcome tough draws to win three of those races, scoring twice at The Meadows (29.99sec and 30.01sec), while he was a luckless second in a Melbourne Cup heat, beaten only half a length by Idolize.

"I thought his (Melbourne Cup) heat run was super," Sharp said.

"We did cop a big check on the first turn and shouldn't have been in the race after that.

"His win at The Meadows last Friday was really good too. I don't think too many dogs have been able to win when they're drawn on the outside of Transponder."

Morton has been nominated as a reserve for The Phoenix, with the 'pool' to be announced at Sunday morning's box draw.

With a Phoenix start highly unlikely, the Sharps have an attractive 'Plan B', with Morton one of the headline acts in Saturday night's heats of the Group 1 Sportsbet Silver Chief (525m), also at The Meadows.

The $100,000 to-the-winner Silver Chief final will also be held on Saturday week, albeit the victor's cheque will contain one less '0' than The Phoenix.

Morton's horror run of draws has continued for the fourth of six heats (race 8, 9pm), allocated box six for the third time in his last four starts.

Nevertheless, Morton dominates Sportsbet's market at $1.65, while he's the $5 second elect in 'All' In betting behind Melbourne Cup finalist Tim Zoo at $4.50.

"I think it's his race to lose, even though he's drawn badly again," Sharp said.

While the Sharps are seeking their first G1 trophy, champion mentor Jason Thompson is chasing a sixth Silver Chief title.

Thompson has won the race with Light Of Fire (1994), Awesome Assassin (1996), Ben's Fury (2005), Fedex (2009) and Godsend (2012), while wife Seona was victorious with Out Of Range (2018).

Thompson has three strongly fancied heat contenders in Tim Zoo (heat 2, $1.50), Navarino (heat 3, $3.20) and Rocket Riot (heat 6, $1.55), as well as Sit And Steer (heat 5, $7.50).

Occupying the third line of 'All In' betting behind Morton and Tim Zoo at $5.50 is In The Hub (heat 1, $1.95), winner of four of his seven starts for Shona Crawford, highlighted by a flying 29.13sec success at Sandown Park.