The Secret Racegoer: Newbury
It was nice to be greeted on arrival at Newbury with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. It was particularly appreciated by those who had been to Cheltenham the previous Saturday and endured bitterly cold conditions. Some still looked as if they’d yet to fully thaw out.
Stories were exchanged of battling horizontal rain driven by winds so strong that it was difficult to stay on one’s feet. The anecdote that one annual member told of having difficulties in opening a door to try and leave the bar was met with derision.
“You were lucky” was one of the more moderate responses from those who struggled to get into the warmth.
Bathed in warm December sunshine, Newbury was a good place to be on the Wednesday before Christmas. And a decent enough crowd was there to witness a day’s sport which could well have a say in future races of greater importance.
Not that that should taking anything away from the reasonably well supported card which had every race sponsored.
One of the day’s backers was St James’s Place Wealth Management, vying for the role of looking after people’s hard-earned cash with the on-course bookmakers.
Whilst St James’s aim in life is to increase their clients’ wealth, the bookmakers saw it their duty to reverse the situation. The results suggested that the bookmakers processed more deposits than they did withdrawals.
It’s not known how successful St James’s have been in these economically uncertain times, but they were entertaining their guests in the Grandstand Enclosure. Hopefully in 2019 they’ll be back to play host in the Premier Enclosure.
Another race sponsor was qolcom, a company which seemingly haven’t managed their wealth to afford a capital Q, or an ensuing u. They provide “Secure Managed Mobility and Enterprise Network Services”. No, me neither. But it does show where they’ve blown the budget on capital letters.
What exactly it is that qolcom do could have been on the minds of the jockeys at the start of the qolcom-sponsored race, because it was something like ten-seconds before they got their mounts going after the tapes went back to get the novices’ hurdle underway.
The Powersolve Electronics Greatwood Charity Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Steeple Chase was a race name that commentator Richard Hoiles, happily back from illness which prevented him calling the races at Cheltenham for ITV, had to conjure with.
Their offering in the marketplace is the more easily understood concept of supplying chargers for mobile phones. It’s a shame they couldn’t have given a boost to Ut Majeur Aulmes, who seemed to be running a bit flat which resulted in another deposit for the bookies.
Newbury have now all but finished their major redevelopment programme, with the contractors now in the process of competing a number of minor works.
One of the most recently completed enhancements to the paddock was the addition of the open-air Many Clouds Bar, opened at the previous meeting by Oliver Sherwood. I don’t know if he forgot to place the order to re-stock the bar, but would-be imbibers were thwarted as it was shut.
Those annual members who wanted to take the opportunity of being at the course to renew for next year were thwarted. Instead, a form could be filled-in but without completing bank card details and the course would ring back to obtain the required information.
One last word on the day, apart to say the Guinness was fine. Great Western Railway ran a direct train from London Paddington to the racecourse station which arrived on time, and a return train back to Paddington was only one minute late.
Hopes of getting a cheap laugh from their usual inept performance were thwarted.