Near misses and doughnuts at Plumpton

February 15th, 2019 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

I was wandering down Burgess Road in Southampton the other day, thinking about the long, hard winter of 1962-63. Racing was off for several weeks in the big freeze and one of the first winners when it resumed was Severn Bore at 100/6. I heard of his victory in a Burgess Road shop, which may have been a Coral outlet and probably not a Ladbrokes one in the days before they were owned by the same people.

I knew the Ladbrokes shops quite well and worked as a boardman in a couple of them a few years later. A successful businessman called Charles Malizia sold them to ‘the Magic Sign’ ; he lived in Bassett Green, the smart part of Southampton, and I taught his daughter French for a while. I often wonder what happened to her – a little pied a terre in Biarritz, perhaps, an afternoon lover with some Jacques Brel in the background, that sort of thing, but that’s just the way my mind works and I’ve no way of knowing.

I mentioned old Charlie in the White Star a few months ago while taking a glass with one of my best friends, the former Southampton FC secretary Brian Truscott.

“He went down for a while, of course,” Brian said.

Time stands still while you digest something like this but, let’s be honest, it’s bound to happen when you love a place to bits but return only now and again for home matches and to wander in the cemetery where your parents reside.

“Charles? Charles Malizia? Surely not.”

“Oh yes, some sort of financial misdemeanour. Very popular, though, old Charlie. There was a nice piece about him in the Echo when he died.”

So he went down and then went altogether. I checked in the Echo and people were very nice about him. I’d have gone to the funeral if I’d known. I don’t suppose they had any Jacques Brel, but you never know.

Albert Finney has gone, as well, but at least I knew about that. I tried to get him to do a piece for the Sports Adviser many years ago but Albert wasn’t fond of interviews. “No, no, no, I don’t think so, old love, do you?” Nice to be called ‘old love’ by someone like that.

He loved his racing, as befits the son of a Salford bookie. The legend has it that Finney senior’s funeral cortege accidentally on purpose went by way of the old Manchester racecourse. Albert was clever enough to employ John Sutcliffe junior as his trainer and there were some neat gambles including one at Salisbury when Brother Ray, ridden by Michael Wigham, gave everything a start and still won a multi-runner handicap pretty easily at 15/8. A Finney, J Sutcliffe jnr and M Wigham. Imagine that. Biggest certainty since Lester got up on Tintagel II for R C Sturdy in the Ebor.

Where was I? Oh yes, Burgess Road and Severn Bore. That was a proper hold-up, of course, not the brief interlude we experienced recently. Holy mackerel, the way the racing media and broadcasters went on, you’d have thought we were returning after six months, not six days.

I happened to be at Plumpton on Wednesday. Headstone material, isn’t it? ‘Suddenly the world starting spinning again. And he was THERE.’ I ask you.

Anyway, the IJF function was very enjoyable and my thanks to David Ashforth and the other Sedgefielders (Plumpton branch) for inviting me. I backed the second in both handicap hurdles but took something from the meeting, apart from a big box of doughnuts via the blind auction, because Milton Harris’ horses again ran well without quite winning. When he did he come back into the game? Larger than life character, good for the odd tilt here and there and you should watch out for him from now on in Monday to Thursday races.

Jim Old isn’t going for a repeat bid with Pink Gin at Wincanton on Saturday so I’m left with Getaway Trump and Waiting Patiently at Ascot. I think Getaway Trump’s second to Champ is the best bit of form but I’ll probably save each-way on stable-companion Mont Des Avaloirs, who is far better than he showed last time. Nice name, too.

If you back horses raised 12lb in handicap hurdles you will soon be taking the odd half in the Seven Stars in Carey Street, home of the bankruptcy courts, but it’s a nice pub, very welcoming and there was a time when they only SERVED halves, Courage Best I think, though that may have changed. This is a long-winded way of saying that I’d be very careful indeed where Al Dancer at 3/1 is concerned – a bookmaker’s price is ever there was one.