ENDA Bolger has paid tribute to Armagh trainer Ronan McNally on saddling the 16-year-old See Double You to win over hurdles at Roscommon on Tuesday.
See Double You is the oldest horse to win a race under rules since 1987 when The Ladys Master, also 16, won a chase in Tipperary under Frank Berry.
Very few know more than Bolger about keeping older horses sound. He has enjoyed spectacular success at the top level with veteran hunter chasers On The Fringe and Spot Thedifference. In his riding days Bolger was associated with such all-time greats as Ah Whisht and Under Way, both of whom were prolific winners at an advanced age for trainer P.P. Hogan.
“I take my hat off to Ronan on his achievement – that horse is not finished winning either,” said Bolger. “He reminded me of On The Fringe (14) who quickened up after the last when he won at Listowel recently. These older horses are streetwise and mature enough to handle quick ground. Their tendons, bone density and bodies are fully mature. Eventers have a much harder regime than racehorses and some of them don’t peak until they are 18.
“Spot Thedifference was 14 when he won at Cheltenham for the final time and P.P. Hogan’s Under Way was 15 when he won the Champion Hunter Chase at Punchestown in 1985. He actually won an open lightweight aged 16 at Thurles.
“Like On The Fringe, those horses were rested during the winter months and aimed at the best races in the spring.”
Bolger says On The Fringe could return to racing next season. “There’s nobody who would pull the plug quicker than Mr [J.P.] McManus if we thought the horse didn’t want to do it. It’s easy to throw them out in the field but they can be miserable after a few months when they miss being ridden out. We’ll see how the horse is in the autumn.”
Two 17-year-olds have won chases in Britain in the past 30 years: De Pluvinel at Sandown in 1990 and Eastern Destiny in 1995 at Nottingham. Bishopsdale was 16 when he won at Hexham in 1997.
Horse Racing Ireland and p2p.ie have supplied lists of the oldest horses to win under rules and between the flags in recent years.