Jack and Suzie would be proud of Michelle Baird and John Morrison
By Duane Ranger
Templeton horseman, Jack McDonald and his daughter, Suzie Morrison, are no longer with us, but their memories and equine family live on through Jack’s daughter, Michelle Baird and his grandson, John Morrison.
John Morrison and Michelle Baird
Darfield-based Baird and her late sister Suzie, were the only two of four McDonald siblings, to continue with their father’s breed. Suzie also trained and now her son John Morrison is doing the same at Ashburton Raceway.
Mr McDonald’s equine family originated from the 1970 black daughter of Rodney Day and Gay Helen (Gay Piper) – Frivolous.
“Sadly, John never got to meet his grandfather, because he died almost 40 years ago, and John’s Mum – my younger sister, Suzie, passed away when John he was just three, but they all have lots in common.
“John loves the trotters like Dad and me. He is also a very good farrier like my father was. Shoeing is so crucial for trotters, and both were and are really good at the job. He has a lot of his grandfather and mother’s traits. It’s uncanny really,” Baird said.
Baird bred another winner from the Frivolous family when that mare’s great-great-grandson – Fearless – won race four at Addington Raceway last Sunday (July 9) – the Sundees Son R35-R46 Trot.
Darryn Simpson does the training at Oamaru Raceway, while Ricky May did the driving behind the $2.80 favourite.
The 3-year-old son of Father Patrick and Never Fear (Pegasus Spur) has now won two of his 10 starts, and placed in two others ($15,849) for his Otago owner, Gary Clarke – who paid $30,000 for him at the 2021 National Standardbred Yearling Sale in Christchurch.
Fearless was bred by Baird and her daughters, Elizabeth and Gabrielle.
“John is not involved in this horse, but he has and will train horses from Dad’s original family. It was so good to see Fearless win, not only for the owner, and our family, but also for Darryn and Ricky who got the best out of the horse on the day. A job brilliantly done!
“It’s quite thrilling to breed a winner, knowing that the family originated from Dad, and the stallion he imported all those years ago. I hope he can go on with it,” Baird said.
That American stallion was the 1961 son of Rodney and Gayety Day (by Guy Day) named Rodney Day.
“Dad used to be very good at getting mares in foal when others struggled. He was a passionate square gait breeder, who imported Rodney Day and then put him to just about every mare he had.
“I remember when I was in my teens Dad had 21 horses in work and 19 of them were trotters.
When Show No Fear (3-year-old Father Patrick – Strike Fear (Crazed) filly won at Ashburton last year (November 10), it was Darryn Simpson’s 100th training success.
Fickle was a 1982 unraced 1982 Wide Acclaim – Frivolous mare. She showed a lot of potential winning several workouts before sustaining an injury.
“It all started from there. Fear Not, her first foal went on to win six races and it has all snow-balled from there. I’m very proud to continue Dad’s legacy,” Baird said.
But numerous wins and Horse-of-the-Year titles later, Baird still regard’s No Fears (2010 Majestic Son – Without Fear gelding) win at Addington on December 14, 2018, as one of the family’s most special wins.
“That was when John trained his first winner in Dad’s colours (pink with the white hoop). There were a few tears that day. I’m sure Dad and Suzie were watching down proudly,” Baird said.
Asked who were some of the best standardbreds she had bred, Baird mentioned:
“I think the best is yet to come. The 2006 Two-year-old-Trotter-of-the-Year, Fear Factor (2003 Sundon – Fickle four-win mare), who we sold after one start was a very nice horse.”
Baird also mentioned Without Fear (1999 Sundon – Fickle) six-win mare; Fear Not (1988 Game Pride Fickle) six-win gelding; and Never Fear (13-year-old Pegasus Spur – Without Fear) five-win mare and Have No Fear (Father Patrick- Without Fear) 6 wins including the Group 1 Need For Speed.
As to Never Fear’s current crop, all four of her foals are by Father Patrick, so what’s the attraction?
“I have always been a big fan of his. I like his build and look, and I like what he produces. The mare’s not in foal this season, but all-up I have bred seven foals by him, and everyone to the races has won.
“In saying that I am not sure if I’ll go back to him this season, I might, but Never Fear knows no other sire, so time will tell on that one,” Baird said.
She said Never Fear’s first foal, the 2017 brown gelding, Almighty Fear, was sold to clients of Gavin Smith at the 2019 National Yearling Sale in Christchurch for $37,500. He has since won four of his 12 starts and placed in three others.
Fearless was born two years later on November 12.
“I liked him from day one. He had a lovely nature and I’m glad Gary bought him. That is the third horse he has bought off us now.”
The last two foals out of Never Fear are a 2-year-old bay filly named Fear And Faith, and an un-named weanling colt.
“John is training Fear And Faith, and he quite likes her. He said she would race as a 2-year-old. I own and bred her with Elizabeth and Gabrielle (daughters).
Fear And Faith as a foal
“As for the weanling, he so reminds me of Have No Fear at the same age. He’s a good size, and is a kind and well-natured colt. I like him,” Baird said.
Christchurch-born and Villa Maria-educated Baird, lives for horses. In fact, she also works for West Melton trainer, vet and breeder Donna Williamson
Michelle says she loves breeding horses and is always excited with the birth of each foal.
“I’m looking forward to Without Fear’s last foal (of 10), who will be trained by John. He’s a Majestic Son yearling colt, who was born on December 30, 2021,” Baird said.
“It’s an honour to continue what Dad started off way back in the late 1960s with Frivolous,” she added.