Nowadays, one seems to get through most of life’s invitations pretty well. The starting point is nearly always the feeling that I am deeply fortunate that someone likes the Hon. enough to invite me as well. More often than not, one eats and drinks well and only occasionally might the table include an indignant liberal socialist, bleating about Griselda’s decision, at the age of 14, to investigate transgenderism. Mother is worried it’s going to impact both her school work and her environmental activism. Secretly she admits, she also worries about whether she’ll be strong enough on a diet of lentils and kale, “…what do you think?” Oft times, I have no notion of whether she is talking about herself or the child. In either case, I try to declare a lack of knowledge based on my decision to devote myself to Scientology. This often draws stumps – the alternative is that I am horrendously and inexcusably honest.
None of this was the case the other night when I found myself in Hungerford at a delightful pub dinner with a crew of seven. The conversation flowed, as did the drink. It was delightful and fun and heart-warming. At almost every turn, an old and near-forgotten face was remembered and connections made, some familial, some social, some originally romantic. From a conversational connection came the ghost of one of the nicest bookmakers I ever knew, Lulu Mendoza who was my first bookmaker and who was the late Uncle of one of the pretty girls. That in turn meant that Benno Miller was her dad, and I suspect that Benno taught Victor Chandler everything he ever knew about eating Peas and not drinking Chateaubriand. Benno was a gent’s bookmaker in the days when Habbershaws did the other half of polite society. At the other end of the table, was a charming American who had been a “friend” of Bob Payton who I (and most of the restaurant industry at one time or another), had fallen out with over various issues, in my case his Rib Shack service. That said he had been very kind to a great friend of mine and thus earned my esteem. From that came news of Walter Mariti, who used to own Pontevecchio and other great Italian restaurants including Meridiana where he partnered with Enzo Appicela, both of whom were kind to me while simultaneously loathing each other. I remembered that Julian Wilson had been Walter’s racing manager – as well as Clem Freud’s – and so it went on. We narrowly avoided being there until dawn trying to work out how many degrees of separation there might be between Victor Chandler and Tony Benn.
We do them honour and service in that memory, the result of the size of their character. Their presence at dinner when most of them are no longer with us is a testimony to the times they shared.
The Golf and the USPGA Championship is also giving me pleasure with three of my selections so far lying 2nd, 4th and 7th. I might leave well alone!
Today is a Sky Bet Sunday Series, which is an industry-wide collaboration between ITV, Sky Bet, Racecourse Media Group, and the six racecourses, which showcases the sport in a twilight slot on terrestrial television throughout the summer. If you watch it, Timeform has created some extraordinary weighting methods for evaluating possible winning chances. Have a look and see whether you can understand it… like my tips. I hadn’t a clue.
3:30 YORK Sky Bet Sunday Series Apprentice Hcap Cl4 (4yo+ 0-85) 1m4f ITV4 20 run
KIHAVAH 3 pts win – EL PICADOR 1½ pts e/w
3:45 CURRAGH Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas (G1) (Fillies) (3yo) 1m ITV4 14 run
TUESDAY 4 pts double with WALBANK next race
4:00 YORK Sky Bet Sunday Series EBF Novice Stks (GBB Race) Cl4 (2yo) 5f ITV4 4 run
WALBANK see above
4:20 CURRAGH Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Habitat” Hcap (Premier Hcap) (4yo+) 6f ITV4 18 run
LAUGH A MINUTE 2 pts e/w
4:35 YORK Sky Bet Sunday Series Dash Hcap Cl4 (3yo 0-80) 6f ITV4 22 run
AZURE BLUE – DEVASTE – GNAT VALLEY 1½ pts e/w
5:05 YORK Sky Bet Sunday Series Mile Hcap Cl3 (4yo+ 0-95) 1m ITV4 20 run
LA TRINIDAD 3 pts e/w
5:35 YORK Sky Bet Sunday Series Sprint Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-100) 6f ITV4 22 run
ABERAMA GOLD – DAKOTA GOLD Dutch the pair for 4 pts – CAPOTE’S DREAM 1½ pts e/w
6:05 YORK Sky Bet Sunday Series Stayers Hcap Cl4 (4yo+ 0-85) 2m½f ITV4 17 run
SUPER SUPERJACK 4 pts Win – FLINT HILL 1 pt e/w
6:40 YORK Sky Bet Sunday Series Fillies’ Hcap Cl3 (3yo+ 0-90) 7f ITV4 11 run
HEREDIA 4 pts win – ZIM BABY 2 pts e/w