By Jordan Gerrans
Premier Cairns trainer Stephen Massingham feels like he has saved his own life over the last six months.
The affable Massingham reached some of the greatest heights in his career in recent years taking popular gelding The Harrovian around Australia.
The FNQ-based trainer was of course the person who bought, prepared and turned The Harrovian into a star after he was just a battling galloper in Victoria.
And, while “Big H” and his exploits provided an endless amount of smiles and positive energy for the stable, Massingham was fighting a battle – that he believed was going to eventually kill him – behind the scenes.
Like most men in their late 40s, Massingham – who goes by “Boogie” to his mates – enjoyed a drink or two and a big feed but was not doing nearly as much exercise as he should have been.
Now, as the 2022 TAB Northern Queensland Winter Racing Carnival turns to Townsville and Cairns, Massingham is in as good a physical condition as he has been in decades and believes he is fighting fit for the second chapter in his training career.
He has dropped a massive 45kgs and looks like a completely different man.
“I am going good,” a new-look Massingham said.
“I was getting up to that weight there and I was definitely obese and I was going nowhere.”
The Harrovian is now retired from his amazing journey from bush galloper to city favourite and the Cannon Park-based stable of Massingham is now replenishing its stocks.
Through his astounding weight loss, Massingham is as active and hands-on as he has been with his team of horses in years.
“At the end of the day, I think it saved my life,” Massingham said.
“I turn 50 this year and to lose all this weight, I feel way better and I am more active.
“I feel way better and I am doing a lot more with the horses.
“I have taken a new direction in my life and I am feeling a lot better.”
After a quiet start to the Mackay and Rockhampton legs of the carnival for Massingham, his yard's plans start to take shape this week at Townsville’s Cluden Park.
They have big numbers set for Thursday’s race day before the big one – Townsville Cup and Cleveland Bay Handicap – on Saturday afternoon.
After winning the Townsville Cup with 'Big H' during his dazzling run, the barn will not have a stayer in the event this year.