For those of you that have never visited Southwell, you really should make the effort and give it a go. Not just because of the racetrack, which is very well run and a really friendly little place, but in the town itself is Southwell Minster, which is a proper cathedral and not something you’d expect to find in a market town with a population of just over 7,000. It really is a stunning building, and given my mother was one of the first to be Christened in the Airmen’s Chapel there just after World War II, it holds a special place in my heart.
What she’d have made of the Fibresand there is anyone’s guess – she liked a bet, usually on Willie Carson if he was riding at 7-10 or less – and given she also liked a favourite, I’m guessing she’d have made a few quid on Monday too.
Le Manege Enchante wasn’t the best backed in the opener at 12.25 – there were some good lumps around for local trainer Robyn Brisland’s Six Til Twelve, who was unexposed and had a bit of form on the surface – but he was still far too good for this lot and his 3¼l win suggests he’ll be capable of following up next time. Six Til Twelve ran on for third and his turn might not be far away either.
A couple of 5f handicaps followed and they bucked the trend a bit, as those drawn low have been firmly in charge in the past few weeks on the straight course. Saying that, these were small fields and I’d still be wary of anything drawn high in 9-10 runner fields. National Anthem’s time of 59.6 was a second quicker than Navajo Dawn’s half an hour later, but the latter impressed with the way he travelled and defied stall 7 in the process. Speaking of those badly drawn, one to keep an eye out for tonight is old Red Stripes, who ran well under an inexperienced 7lb claimer here last week from stall 9 – he’s well handicapped and Charlie Bishop takes over, and he’s pulled a better draw in stall 5. His turn might be tonight and if it’s not, it won’t be far away.
The bookmakers are in need of the smelling salts after favourite number four goes in in the shape of Harbour Front, who looks beaten at various stages but rallies very well to claim the prize. Stamina looks his long suit and he might well improve for 1m6f in the future. There’s finally some respite for them when track favourite Custard The Dragon gets the fast pace he has to have to come with a late charge and get John Mackie off the cold list in the 7f handicap that follows, and then the usually-consistent Break The Silence blows out in the next as Forseti proves too good for them in the 3.00 (I’d seen one of the owners earlier, and he told me “there will be no excuses if he’s beat today” – why didn’t I listen to him?) but the respite doesn’t last for long as the jolly old favourite, Le Musee, starts cutting through them like a knife through butter on the home turn and the punters cries go up one more time in the lucky last. It’s cold and blowing a gale, but the punters don’t care! A few twenty pound notes in their pockets soon seems to warm them up….!