newton armsHaving worked around Covent Garden from the middle of 2002 I’d walked past the Newton Arms loads of times (not least on the way to Parker Place where the original Club FreakyTrigger was held) , but always thought it looked a bit, y’know, Local. It looks like an Estate Pub without being attached to an Estate (although there are a surprisingly large number of people who live round there) and the cheap beer deals and garish posters in the window put me off.

The thing that finally got me through the door was horse-racing.

Having lived in Cheltenham for seven years the excitement of the Gold Cup meeting in March had stayed with me, but I’d never found a pub in London that was that bothered about it. I think it must have been 2007 that I realised that the Newton was a racing pub (and with proper RacingUK pictures at that), and had my lunch late on the Tuesday to catch the Champion Hurdle and scope the pub out. What I found was a very friendly and courteous welcome from immaculately dressed barmen (white shirt and tie at all times) and Really Quite A Lot Of Freemasons which, given the area, is hardly surprising (and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a stake in the place to be honest). I resolved to return on the Friday, and have now spent the last three Gold Cup days there.

It really is a cracking afternoon pub though, even when I’ve been sat on my own watching the racing, it doesn’t feel like you’re being looked at as some kind of weirdo. The fact that the last of their lunchtime punters don’t leave ’til about half two and the first of the knocking-off-early ones arrive at three helps I think. The lunchtime food is top notch too, Chris and I shared an awesome plate of bacon and chips (i know this shuold be boiled potatoes, but we fancied chips) and parsley sauce last year and they keep a decent pint of Adnams.

It does seem to be slightly obsessed with high stools and ledges rather than proper tables, but it’s a long way from being a Vertical Drinking Establishment. I know it’s an awful cliché, but you do get a real mix of people in over the course of an (afternoon and) evening (we have spent some evenings there as well!). Anyway, if anyone’s looking for me on Gold Cup afternoon (19th March next year), you know where to find me.

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