Morshead to bow out at Perth
Sam Morshead is to bow out from his role as general manager at Perth in December, a few months after his 60th birthday and 25 years after the Irishman arrived at Britain's most northerly course.
A former jump jockey, who rode over 400 winners, Morshead has been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of Perth, taking it from lowest average Scottish crowd to one of the highest. During his time in office he has steered £6million of developments including the £1.4million boutique hostel due for completion later this year and famously did a cartwheel in the winners' enclosure to celebrate the first Perth festival in 1989.
Morshead, who has been receiving treatment for prostate cancer, said yesterday: "I have had the most fabulous time and I have worked with an awesome chairman in David Whitaker and the most wonderful team. I love them all to bits.
"It is ironic that when I was playing at being a jockey I thought I could do it, but obviously couldn't. When I took Perth on I did not think that I would be able to do it but I found that I was blessed with the ability to get others to do things for me - I could 'talk the talk'!"
Hazel Peplinski, cleark of the course at Kelso and Racing Manager at Hamilton Park, will succeed Morshead and he added "It has been a very rewarding journey and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I am absolutely delighted that Hazel is going to take over from me.
"She is a hugely respected racing executive and her family are very much part of the fabric of racing in Scotland and as it happens particularly at Perth. She will add new energy and skills to a wonderful team and I wish her every success for the future.
"Time for me now plan a trip to compete with bears for salmon in the Rockies and spend time with my children and first grandchild."
Peplinski said: "When Sam asked me if I would carry on his good work at Perth it immediately felt a very exciting fresh challenge and I was very flattered to have been Sam's and David's choice. I wish the circumstances were different and that Sam's health was better but I shall never fill his shoes and I shan't try to.
"Sam's retirement is the end of an era for Perth but there is a fantastic team already in place and we will continue the business of creating fun for all who visit."
In the late seventies and eighties he enjoyed a career as a top jockey, racing under the watchful eye of legendary trainer Fred Rimell. He won on his first two rides for Rimell and he considers "getting lucky with a big trainer" as the true starting point for his career as a professional jockey.
He had over four hundred winners under his belt before he retired due to a bad fall and after a short spell at Ayr headed north to Perth.
Morshead is one of the few people who has successfully transferred from jockey to manager and it is this commitment to racing that saw him pick up Pride of Racing's Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award in 2013. He has worked tirelessly to promote racing throughout Scotland and considers his position an honour and added: "When I took it on Perth would have had the smallest average crowd of the five Scottish racecourses and it now regularly has the highest annual average attendance. During my tenure we have invested in the region of £6m in improving our facilities, including the hotel/hostel which I look forward to steering to completion before I go completely in the Spring of next year. That statistic is a bit frightening; I'd be nervous about investing even £60 of my own money and wouldn't dream of putting £10 on a horse and jockey! Not only do they have to win but they have to finish together!
"I am sure the executive at the BHA will be glad to see the back of me and I would like to thank them for their tireless help over the years.
"As for the RCA, I liken that strange association to the European Union. An awful lot of executive travel, meetings, talk and more talk. Of course we have our Angela Merkel and I'd say the Jockey Club Racecourse Group would be similar to Germany, ARC might well be France, I would like to think Perth could be Ireland - doing its own thing and getting on with it - and I know there are one or two Greece and Spains out there. Will it survive? I am sure it will, with the Germany and France players onside but I fear for the Spains and Greeces as they have absolutely no voice at these endless meetings and they are the lifeblood of our industry. The truth is unanimous agreement by all the racecourses is almost inconceivable."