John Bridger with yard favourite Megalala
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By Nicholas Godfrey 9:56AM 20 SEP 2016
VETERAN Flat performer Megalala, believed to have become the oldest horse to win on the Flat in Britain when he scored at Lingfield in June at the age of 15, is likely to stay in training next season as a 16-year-old.
The John Bridger-trained gelding, who won an all-weather handicap over a mile and a quarter on June 18, posted another creditable effort last week at Brighton when he came fourth of 12 after making the running in typical fashion in a mile-and-a-half handicap.
Bridger is hoping to run Megalala again in a similar event at the same venue before the end of the season – and sees no reason why the old boy won’t be back for more in 2017.
“He feels no different from five or six years ago – he hasn’t wilted and he seems willing,” said Bridger, 74. “We’d never abuse him, but if he’s like he is now then hopefully he’ll be back next year. I don’t know what would happen to him if he did come out of training because I’m sure he wouldn’t enjoy it.”
Racing Post historian John Randall says he is “fairly sure” Megalala is the oldest horse to win on the Flat in Britain since 1945.
“The other candidates for that title were all 14,” he explained, naming Pheidippides (1969), Le Garcon D’Or (1972), Be Hopeful (1973), Redoubtable (2005) and The Tatling (2011 twice).
Owned by Trevor Wallace, Megalala has won 20 of his 139 starts in a career that began when he was unplaced in a Fontwell bumper in April 2005.
‘He’s full of life’
For that entire period he has been trained at Bridger’s base at Liphook in Hampshire. “He doesn’t seem any different to train – he goes into the paddock in the morning and we ride him out,” said the trainer. “He doesn’t want to be out too long, but if you leave him in, he walks the box.”
Bridger suggests the fast ground has largely been against Megalala this summer. “He’d have wanted a bit more softer ground and it’s been drying out everywhere, but he loves Brighton so we’ll probably run him back there again before the end of the season,” he said.
“He seems to run well there, as long as the ground’s decent. I suppose he knows the place and he always battles on again with that last bit of uphill.”
Not surprisingly, Megalala is a firm favourite down Liphook way, with the veteran trainer saying: “He’s full of life and it wouldn’t be quite the same here without him.
“He couldn’t be any better – if they were all like him it would be easy. The kids ride him out at the weekend and he likes his walk and eats his food; he’s no different from how he’s always been, and let’s hope he keeps on like he is.”