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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

The next Megalala? Bridger seeking further success with teenager Shifting Star

John Bridger: hoping for a big run from Shifting Star
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John Bridger has just retired the 17-year-old Megalala but he's full of hope that fellow veteran Shifting Star can provide another advert for the rejuvenating effect of Hampshire air.

His front-running miler, who is 'only' 13, has the 161st race of his career in the Ken Martenstyn Birthday Handicap at Brighton (4.00), seeking his fourth course-and-distance success.

Age is not an issue, as the trainer said: "He's very enthusiastic, he's a lovely horse and he's quite easy – you just need to keep him sweet and happy. He wants to do it and that's half the battle.


Trainer John Bridger calls time on Megalala career at age of 17


"This is his sort of race. He didn't have the best of runs last time but he wasn't beaten far and the ground should be okay. He seems well and I'm hoping for a big run."

Kieran O'Neill is on board for the first time since he won on Shifting Star here in May and his mount is refitted with visors after four races without.

"I'm not sure if that makes a big difference but we wanted to try a change," Bridger said.

"Kieran won on him before and the horse just loves to bowl along – if they are going quicker than him, they're going too quick."

Carnaby calls Time the likely winner of his own race 

It doesn't quite rival the history – or the value – of the John Smith's Cup but it must be one of the longest surviving sponsorship deals in the country.

Ian Carnaby, initially in partnership with fellow Sporting Life and Racing Post writer David Ashforth, has been doing his bit to support seaside platers for more than two decades and on Monday, the Sussex course stages the 22nd running of the Ian Carnaby Selling Handicap (3.00).

"I've always said I'll do it while I'm able, I wouldn't give up the sponsorship willingly and I've got about 28 people coming tomorrow," said Carnaby, who on Sunday also offered two tips for his own race.  

"Tony Carroll cannot go wrong with horses around this grade this season. Time Medicean has been second and third in the race and Poppy Bridgwater's 7lb allowance could be the key," he said. "He's perfectly game and consistent and wasn't beaten that far in the race for greys at Newmarket.

"Hughie Morrison is a clever man and his Racehorse is the darkish one – and would be a fitting winner as one year a horse called Bookmaker won."

But things don't always go to plan, and Carnaby said: "I remember when I was ghosting Martin Pipe's column for The Sporting Life and he said 'Highbury Legend' will win this, but he turned out to be less a Thierry Henry and more a Perry Groves.

"Modest Hope came plodding past to win, ridden by an Italian called Antonio Polli who had limited English – he got his champagne and stick of rock and said, 'Is it like this in England after every selling race?'"

Windsor regular Look Surprised back for more

Look Surprised would be a fitting winner at Windsor's final evening meeting of the season, having notched two of three career wins on a Monday night by the Thames.

The mare has bottom weight in the 5f handicap (6.00) and trainer Roger Teal said: "She likes the track and she's two from two over five furlongs there.

"She ran well last time at Salisbury, where she lost a front shoe, which didn't help her cause. It's a competitive race and she's up in class but she's in good heart.

"She and William Cox have struck up a nice partnership and his 5lb claim is very handy."

Roger Teal: 'Look Surprised is in good heart'

Big Newmarket raid on Gosforth Park prize

It's north versus south in the richest race of the day, the £15,000 188Bet Extra Place Races Handicap at Newcastle (5.50).

Chester and Ripon winner Benadalid, trained by Chris Fairhurst, and Rare Groove, who scored at Hamilton for Jedd O'Keeffe last month, head the home defences.

But proven all-weather winners Recordman (Saeed Bin Suroor) and Drill (Luca Cumani), plus the William Haggas-trained Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes entry Life On Earth, give Newmarket strong claims for a race in which they had a one-two last year.

'Tough and honest' Papal Parade in bid for Roscommon repeat

Eamonn O'Connell appears to have his string in fine order and the man who trained Powerstation to finish third to Big Buck's in back-to-back World Hurdles sends his game seven-year-old Papal Parade back to Roscommon on Monday in a bid to repeat last month's course-and-distance success.

The Anthony Clogan-owned mare missed 319 days before her May return due to a cracked shin but made up for lost time when registering a 16-1 victory at the Connacht venue a fortnight ago, getting the better of One Cool Poet, who has run well in defeat since.

The handicapper has raised O'Connell's charge 5lb but perhaps a bigger concern ahead of Monday’s 1m4f handicap hurdle (7.40) will be the sounder surface this time around, having won on soft last time.

Roscommon: racing on Monday

"We're hopeful again of another big run but we'd love it if the ground softened for her," said O'Connell.

"We were delighted with her last time and that came after a bit of a break so she might improve a little bit for it, but she's only a small filly so maybe not a huge amount. She's very honest and tough though."

Hamley team hoping for dry weather at Roscommon

The Peter Fahey-trained Gypsy Island set plenty of tongues wagging after landing a Ballinrobe bumper in highly impressive fashion on her debut last week, and the Monasterevin handler will be aiming to continue his good run of form with Hamley in the feature fillies' handicap (6.40) at Roscommon.

The former Niarchos-owned five-year-old continued her solid level of form at Gowran Park on ground slower than ideal in late July and Fahey will be hoping that the rain stays away.

He said: "Hamley is very consistent and we freshened her up after her last run. If we don't get any rain she should put up a good performance."

Useful 7lb claimer Ben Coen will have to negotiate a passage for his Stable Friends Syndicate-owned mount from stall 13.


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You just need to keep him sweet and happy. He wants to do it and that's half the battle
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