Ashforth's Angles: veteran Megalala worth staying up for

John Bridger with Megalala

Trainer John Bridger and his pride and joy Megalala

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

 By David Ashforth 6:00PM 18 OCT 2016 

WE KNOW it’s autumn because seven of Newmarket’s eight races are for two-year-olds. There are 75 of them, 30 making their debuts. All those hopes and dreams taking their first steps towards reality before being tucked away for the winter.

At Kempton, they’re saving the best until last. As bedtime approaches (9.20), the mighty Megalala, aged 15, and stalwart Salient, aged 12, bring their combined record of 34 wins from 284 appearances to bear on a Class 6 0-55 handicap. It would be lovely if one of them won.

Of course, they won’t, although Megalala is bound to lead for most of the way. If his opponents had any sense of decency they’d let Megalala win but I don’t suppose they have. Also, it might be against the rules. Pity.

It’s nearing the time for leaving the Flat season behind and trying to remember some of the names reemerging for the jumps season.

No stopping Panvert

There’s Paul Nicholls, obviously, but there’s also John Panvert, now 70, an electrician who once checked trainer Peter Cazalet’s burglar alarm system for him, then rode out for him, then took out a permit and made occasional appearances in the winner’s enclosure from his base in Kent.

There was a barren spell from 1990 to 1994, before Young Alfie I won at Towcester. Meanwhile, Panvert was engaged in an extraordinary legal battle over his right, or lack of right, to restore an oast house.

The battle raged from 1989 to at least 1997, taking in the High Court, the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights along the way.

On the racing front, there were many blank seasons before stable star Sovereign arrived. The mare won five hurdle races between 2000 and 2003, ridden by conditional jockey Christopher Murray.

Racecourse fame, or infamy, followed in 2006 when Panvert, by then with a full licence, challenged convention by running the unraced Noddies Way in the Derby. Starting at an ungenerous 500-1, Noddies Way finished 17th of 18, the 18th  horse having been pulled up, injured.

On his 19th subsequent appearance, Noddies Way finally won a three horse race at Lingfield. By then, Panvert had moved from Kent to Devon where he continues to run a small stable of modest performers.

His most recent winner was Titch Strider, at Fontwell in June 2015, ridden by Thomas Cheesman. Now, at Fontwell again, Cheesman rides the ten-year-old maiden Watchmetail (3.55). Victory is unlikely but no one can accuse Panvert of not trying, year after year.

Cannon can fire for King

Chris Gordon has four runners at Fontwell but none are ridden by regular rider Tom Cannon, who rides hurdle debutant Passmore for Alan King at Worcester (4.40) while King’s stable jockey Wayne Hutchinson is at Fontwell. Cannon is a strong, progressive rider and it will be interesting to see how his link with King goes.

Later, or possibly earlier – at six o’clock, anyway, Charlie Appleby runs Qewy and Oceanographer in a Group 3 handicap at Geelong. I just thought you might like to know.

Horse Racing News | Racing Post

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