Obituary: David Morley

Michael Frederick David Morley, racehorse trainer: born Salisbury, Wiltshire 17 September 1939; three times married (three sons, two daughters); died Garrowby, West Yorkshire 5 January 1998.

While not the most successful trainer at the Flat racing headquarters of Newmarket, David Morley could well lay claim to being the most popular.

Morley's career was one of highly respectable achievement rather than brilliant success, but he none the less made his mark, particularly in the later stages of his life. Having first taken out a trainer's licence in 1973, his three Group 1 winners all came in the last three years. The two-year-olds Fard and Hayil both won the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, in 1994 and 1997, for their owner Hamdan al-Maktoum, who provided Morley with a considerable boost when sending horses to the yard in 1988.

But without question Morley's most cherished win came with last year's Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup when Celeric, owned and bred by his brother-in- law Christopher Spence, was skilfully produced by his jockey Pat Eddery to win one of Britain's best-known races with a late swoop. Celeric for much of his career had been regarded as a talented handicapper but one that was tricky to ride. Under Morley's care he flourished relatively late in life to become a high-class stayer.

Morley gained a reputation for caring greatly for the horses that he trained, so much so that he became dismayed of training National Hunt horses because he could not bear the high rate of injuries they suffered. That led to Morley's switching full-time to Flat horses in 1985.

His interest in racing had burgeoned with visits as a child to his grandfather Charles Gordon's stud in Devon. After being educated at Eton he served his National Service with the 10th Hussars in Germany, where he actually trained horses to run under German Jockey Club rules. Rejecting a job in the City, Morley spent nine years as assistant to Frank Cundell before setting up on his own in 1973, when he built up a yard in Bury St Edmunds.

Although he was primarily a jumps trainer at that point, Morley landed the first of 11 Group races on the Flat when Calaba, ridden by Lester Piggott, who won seven races on the filly, was victorious in the 1975 Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot.

Over jumps, some of Morley's best horses included two of the best four- year-old hurdlers of the 1975/76 season in Valmony and Havanus. Spanish Tan beat the popular course specialist Tingle Creek on his first run for Morley in the Sandown Handicap Pattern Chase, while the Yorkshire Chase winner Tragus beat another popular horse in Night Nurse in the Freshfields Holidays Chase, also at Sandown. Tragus went on to finish sixth to Grittar in the 1981 Grand National, while another talented staying chaser trained by Morley was Banlieu, who was placed in three successive runnings of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.

Morley switched to Newmarket in 1985 and built up his own stables on Hamilton Road, named High Haven after the first winner he trained at Market Rasen in 1973. His ambition was to train a Classic winner from the yard; the closest he got was Fahal's fourth place to Lammtarra in the 1981 Derby.

Morley had been troubled by a heart condition for a number of years, which his friends said he dealt with bravely and rarely letting it affect his humorous outlook. He even saw the funny side, eventually, of reports that he had actually died three years ago while staying in Dubai. His friends had been rung up for tributes.

- Richard Griffiths

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recuitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn