If there’s a nicer bloke than David Morris around Sydney harness tracks, I haven’t met him yet.
The twenty seven year old freelance reinsman with the breezy disposition, would put a bit of spark into the dullest party.
Despite his inherent trotting background, young Morris was far more interested in dirt bikes than harness sulkies during his teen years. “I loved the KX60 bikes, and spent most of my time hurtling around a little track at Appin”, recalled young Morris. “I had a second venue behind the Menangle track, but one day the noise of the machines attracted the attention of the cops, and they respectfully suggested I get the hell out of there”.
David’s father Noel always had a small team in work, and slowly but surely his interest grew.On Friday nights he would visit cousin Robert, and the pair would watch the Harold Park programme from start to finish.
He later enrolled for a TAFE Traineeship, which required him to work in trotting stables. He spent time with Sue Hunter in Sloys’ Cobbitty training complex, before finishing his term at Paul Fitzpatrick’s operation. Paul was an official assessor, and happy to give young Morris the nod of approval.
From there David worked an hour or two for his Dad each morning, before finishing his day at the Peter Morris stable. All the while he was trying to accumulate hs compulsory 20 trial drives, but that process was interrupted by the onset of the dreaded Equine Influenza Virus, which paralyzed the industry for several months.
When racing resumed in the Autumn of 2008, David picked up where he left off, looking for stable employment and striving to complete his quota of trial drives. He worked for Peter Morris, Rickie Alchin, and Damian Gallagher before taking a permanent position with Dean McDowell at Mulgoa.
During this period Noel Morris purchased a horse called Seat Of Knowledge for $500, essentially to give his son some regular race driving. David made an auspicious debut on the 8 year old, finishing third in a Carousel heat at Penrith.
Two Olives Only was another cheap purchase for the stable, and provided David with his first win at Bankstown in June of 2008.
He then had a second stint with the McDowell stable which lasted for two and a half years, during which time he drove his share of winners.
After that David decided to go it alone, and took out his trainer’s licence. He had his share of success with horses like Bylonga Art and Battlin’ Boy, and at the same time he was getting more and more opportunities as a freelance driver. He was stable driver for the Sloys outfit, which saw him form an association with a talented mare called Luda.David drove her in ten of her thirteen wins, including his only Gr 1 success- the Breeder’s Challenge 4yo Mares Final in 2015.
He was number two driver for Shane Tritton who was Newcastle based at the time. Morris became a regular at the Newcastle meetings, and often drove for the stable on Saturday nights at Menangle.
He won a race on Suave Stuey Lombo at Menangle in 1.49.6, and also won races on Mach Beauty, and one of his favourites Marty Monkhouser.
David is eternally grateful to senior driver Glenn McElhinney, who was his unofficial tutor in the early days. “Glenn would take me aside whenever he spotted something I could improve on”, said David. “I’ll always be grateful for his support”.
One trainer to whom David Morris feels indebted is veteran Harry Martin, the man who guided Double Identity to victory in a Miracle Mile and a Victoria Cup. “Harry has been very good to me, and I’ve had a good run with horses like Double Event, Double Encounter and Double Bliss”.
David and his partner Stephanie Lippiatt are a very popular couple in the Sydney harness racing fraternity. Almost as well known, is their 3 year old son Riley who’s a regular at Menangle meetings. Stephanie has made her mark as a driver in the last couple of years, winning around twenty races, including two doubles.
Stephanie has been absent from the driving ranks this year, for very good reason. Last Sunday (July 15th), she gave birth to another son who’ll be called Cody James. He weighed in at 3.7 kgs, and both he and Mum are in fine fettle. Riley’s pretty chuffed, and Dad’s sporting a grin like a goat in a cabbage patch.
A couple of months ago David Morris reached a very important personal milestone, when he won on a horse called Can Kick A Target at Menangle - his 500th career winner at just 27 years of age.
He absolutely lights up when he tells you how much he loves race driving. “I just want to drive freelance for Sydney trainers as long as I’m able. I can’t imagine doing anything else”, says David with a positive tone.
I can guarantee he’ll be smiling no matter what the race meeting brings.