Good morning all,
Sad news this week regarding the eventual closure of Towcester and a few of my memories are on today's piece, along with a selection from Southwell tonight that looks decent value.
I, like many, was saddened to hear how Towcester Racecourse has closed its doors for good this week (although a little bird tells me all might lost as far as the greyhounds go – stay tuned on that front) as it was one of my favourite courses to visit. Not only because you got free admission, that was obviously a plus point for punters and ensured they always got a crowd, but Towcester’s final hill made for thrilling viewing. Horses cantering on the bridle turning in could be legless by the time they reached the last, and those shoved and pushed along, often to the point of being tailed off, suddenly found their stamina kicking in, and them flying through late to grab the spoils. It will truly be missed.
I had plenty of favourites that ran there but Arctic Spirit, trained by Robin Dickin, would probably be near the top of my list. The very epitome of a horse that Towcester was made for, he would inevitably get outpaced at the bottom of the hill before gamely staying on again from the last. Sometimes he’d even win! (Seven times from 62 starts, fact fans). At a lower level, Jolly Boys Outing was another Towcester regular that often carried a few quid e/w. He only won three times from 40-odd starts but loved the place, and in his heyday, was very game and tried hard.
It’ll be famous for a few things – not least Derek Thompson’s Metal Detector call, where he called the wrong faller in running, only for the horse that he thought had fallen to go on and win. Costing in-running punters a few quid as well. Just goes to show – never listen to anything Derek says…
But of course it’ll be AP’s 4000th winner in the shape of Mountain Tunes that it will be best remembered for. Was I there? Of course, and, don’t tell anyone, but I blagged a press pass for the day when I probably shouldn’t have had one! I chanced my arm the day before, emailing Towcester with my credentials and some recent work I had done, asking if I could have a pass for the day. I was expecting a polite but firm rebuttal but amazingly, an hour later, I received a positive reply telling me my pass would be on the gate! I couldn’t believe it. Now I really wanted him to ride that 4000th winner as I wanted to be close up and part of the action as it happened.
There was a real buzz about the place and the biggest crowd I have ever seen there. The race itself was something of a blur – two out it looked like we would have to wait for another day, but then leader Kris Kin got the last a bit wrong and AP flew it. Suddenly, as had happened a thousand times before, the Towcester hill was again playing its part in a finish. AP threw Mountain Tunes at the line and in truth, got there with a bit to spare. The crowd went absolutely wild and we all hurried around to the winners enclosure.
With my pass, I was able to stand right behind the Number 1 spot as he came back in – there’s a photo of it on one of Towcester’s walls, with me and GG Racing’s Kevin O’Malley standing next to each other, cheering him in. But better was to come, for me anyway. Not only did JP McManus announce he was buying everyone a drink (I think a few had more than one) but there was to be a press conference, with the world’s press assembled for this great moment. Could I get in? I followed the hacks and cameramen and yes indeed, got myself at the back of this small room, surrounded by cameras from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. (You could see the back of my head on the news that night. Fame at last…!) To hear JP, Jonjo and AP talk about this momentous day was fantastic, and one I won’t forget. I went to shake all their hands and got my programme signed by all three. As a racing enthusiast, that’s a day that will take some beating.
The tips have run like drains in the main this week but I'm more hopeful today. I'll be at Fontwell for the next couple of days but it's my home track Southwell tonight that grabs my attention, and in the last at 8.30 Bond Angel must have a good chance of success. She's back to her beloved Fibresand, and off a mark a pound lower than her last win here, which came in March. She's also drawn 11, which will suit her well as she likes to come with a run down the middle in the home straight (she hates kickback) and if her rider can get the fractions right, she really ought to be going close.
Good luck with all your bets today,