With the void left by Polly Dog and The Duke of Edinburgh, across our personal and national psyches, the unelected medical elite has decided to take back their rightful positions at the head of news coverage. The Pandemic Panjandrums are all plenists to their very fingertips and in their horror vacui, 4:01 pm on Saturday, will not come quickly enough.
“The Vaccine is an irrelevance – it’s lockdown what works,” said the PM, during the week – but we didn’t really notice the advance warning, because we were too busy putting piles of flowers down in Windsor Great Park. But the unelected medical elite who are running this country, because every other public servant is apparently working at JP Morgan or Primark, has no intention of seeing The Pandemic over yet. This is a once-in-billion-dead-lives opportunity and they haven’t even scratched the surface of how much more money can be printed. Variants will be our undoing and so Lo and Behold Friday was Indian Mutant day.
Hearing a very vague explanation of the Indian Mutation by an entirely incomprehensible numpty, I started to think I was in a queue in Starbucks. Almost everything said in this report sounded increasingly like a complicated morning coffee order for a team of millennial graphic designers, hard at work on Jeremy Corbyn’s return.
“Have you got an Indian Mutation in yet? Excellent. OK, so like that’s a B1617 Variant of Interest; three Concerned Variants, but can one be Manaus, yeah OK a Brazilian, and the other two Californian L452R. Oh yes, sorry, so can one of those come with extra E484Q. Have you got any wrapped funding for a new Lateral Flow Test? I’ve tried four different types so far and not one of them was any good. Excellent. I’ll take 2 bars of funding and someone said there were some new double-spikes in… oh next week. Excellent. If they’re going to be on offer as VoCs can you put some aside for me, please? You don’t have a spare civil servant to carry that to my office, do you? Thanks”.
I might have said this before, but I shall be bloody surprised if we’re not back in lock-down by September, shooting ourselves at home to Save The NHS.
Meanwhile, Newbury and Ayr followed the money and abandoned ship until Sunday, which provides an inelegant clash with the Grand Prix (which is too close to call but until someone proves me wrong, Hamilton is the finest driver out there – and thus unbackable). I have also been told that I must watch Monte Carlo tennis on Amazon Prime and, additionally, I have been invited to sit in the walled garden of an old friend for lunch. It is my sincere hope that he will have installed some form of tentage and at least four industrial fan heaters that collectively will make conversation impossible. My post lockdown fear, is that I have forgotten the art of polite intercourse at almost every level, which might well be a blessing for most of my hostesses.
On the subject of plenism and the art of polite conversation, I am reminded of a wonderful Patrick Campbell story when he and Madame lived in Provence. The Countess of Something had little time for the charming and very Irish Lord Glenavy for her grand occasions, largely because of his famous and self-mocked stammer. So he was surprised to be invited for lunch to meet the new American Ambassador to France. Surprised and thrilled, not least because she had a magnificent cellar, with which she was generous, and employed the finest chef at work in Les Alpes-Maritimes. “But,” she said, “under no circumstances are you to engage in conversation. It can kill a lunch stone dead!” Paddy faithfully promised he would remain mute and would have explained he might employ the ruse of indicating he had lost his voice, but as he started to tell her not to worry, the stammer kicked in and his hostess simply heard, “Do not wor.. awah, awah; awah; do not w.. awah, awah. Please do not.. awah – awah” A click indicated no further explanation was needed.
On the appointed day, and as he and his wife were about to depart, he got another call from the Countess, this time in the most frightful state. A disaster had occurred, she explained, and Bunny Allsop had dropped out with le goutte and she had had no choice but to invite Roger Fitzroy an ex-pat baronet who also suffered from a speech impediment. His method of getting the selected, but stuck, word out was to add a preceding whistle. The hostess said to Paddy; “This could just be the worst lunch in the history of entertaining. I would cancel, but the Ambassador has already left, so please, I beg you say nothing. I have told Roger as well and I have sat you at opposite ends of the table and as far away from the Ambassador as it is possible to have you, without actually having you sit in the car.” Paddy promised, departed and later arrived.
The smell of orange blossom and lavender hung in the warm air and lunch on the terrace was going swimmingly well. The Ambassador was charming, the company witty, the wines outstanding, the food exemplary. Roger was wearing a very jaunty white silk evening scarf around his neck and his luncheon neighbours were solicitous, but in the main talked to the other side in deference to his condition. At Paddy’s end, much the same scenario was being played out. However, as is the way at these events, there comes a moment when the wine, sun and general feeling of bonhomie overwhelm the senses, and a quiet moment of contemplation is called for. A chance to reflect on life’s kindness. On this day, as chance would have it, 20 of the 22 guests went on just such a mental sojourn simultaneously, leaving Roger and Paddy to consider what on earth had gone wrong. Seconds ticked by. Seconds that felt like minutes and longer. Yawning chasms of silence that heralded something worse than amiss. As good guests, something had to be done. Ice needed to be broken. Social incoherence had to be overcome, whatever their earlier promises – this need was greater.
Roger started first. He decided to fill the silence with a compliment and to say that he thought the Sole Meuniere had been exceptional and that the Chassagne-Montrachet had been a perfect choice. Bizarrely Paddy had also decided to help his hostess and with some gallantry thought he should tell the Ambassador how much he wished for the Irish and American nations to continue as they had done at lunch today, in a spirit of conviviality and hospitable mutual support, or somesuch. It mattered not in any case because neither expression of support was ever delivered. Instead, Roger started with ” I just wanted to – peeep – to – peep – peep – to -peep, I just wanted to – peep – peep.” At the other end Paddy launched off with, “Mr Ambassador, can I awah- awah – can I – awah – awah”. The noise of whistling and awahs, as each tried harder to complete, while simultaneously realising their error, simply grew in volume. Their fellow guests looked on in astonishment as neither man had spoken at all before or during lunch and they were now faced with this extraordinary spectacle of what appeared to be the incoherent and loud Birth of Speech. One by one they turned to any neighbour who was not whistling or awah’ing and started new conversations.
I do not remember how they left or indeed what was said afterwards, but Panjandrums should always be wary of filling a void lest they appear foolish as opposed to full of good intent.
Talking of foolish, some tips for Sunday’s racing.
RIP HRH The Prince Philip
1:00 NEWBURY DDF Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes (Div I) Cl4 (3yo) 1m ITV 11run
A Frankel filly, the first out of Royal Secrets, plus 5lbs fillies allowance.
1:15 AYR Scotty Brand Hcap Chase Cl1 (5yo+) 2m½f ITV 6run
DUKE OF NAVAN Won this in 2015 and ran in it in 2018 and 2019. SOME REIGN is probably the winner.
SOME REIGN Win
1:35 NEWBURY DDF Finest Surprise Stakes (The John Porter Stakes) (Gp3) Cl1 (4yo+) 1m4f ITV 9run
I have it down to a pair, WITHOUT A FIGHT and AL AASY. The former was progressing nicely last season but came unstuck attempting 14f in the four-runner Noel Murless at Ascot, which might not have provided him with much racing cover. AL AASY was fancied for the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and was eased right down when it became apparent he was not on song. He’s been off since and my concern is whether he actually needs cut or whether he needs a flatter track than Goodwood. Dutch the two for around even money.
WITHOUT A FIGHT – AL AASY Dutch Win – RFC
1:50 AYR CPMS Novices’ Champion Hcap Chase Cl2 (5yo+) 3m ITV 14run
MAROWN started his chasing career off a 2m+ trip which was far too sharp, moving onto 2m4f where he looked adequate. Nicky Richards I think has now worked out that 3m suits MAROWN’s stamina and the ground will I think bring about further improvement. Will it be enough to beat Emmett Mullins’ raider PILBARA? I would hope so. THE BUTCHER SAID will love the ground.
MAROWN e/w – THE BUTCHER SAID e/w
2:10 NEWBURY DDF Stakes (The Fred Darling Stakes) (Gp3) (Fillies) Cl1 (3yo) 7f ITV 17run
ISABELLA GILES won the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood and The Rockfel at Newmarket. Trained by Clive Cox, she won in total four of her six starts, but I think she was knackered by the end of the season and I hope her last race, a mile in heavy didn’t take the edge off her racing. If it hasn’t I think she very decent value at around 7/1
ISABELLA GILES e/w
2:25 AYR Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle (A Limited Hcap) (Grade 2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m ITV 10run
MILKWOOD generally 5/2 now, was 12/1 for this 2 weeks ago and the drying ground has added more confidence to this weight of money. He ran well in the County at Cheltenham, appearing to stutter at one point, but it transpired he’d lost a shoe. The fact was that the County was run 4.1 secs faster than The Triumph and his lost shoe might well have cost him the race or at the least 2nd place. The winner went on to win the Novice Hurdle at Aintree, so the form is decent. CALICO has shortened this week from 14s to 7/2 and was widely considered as being better than decent and THYME WHITE and MILKWOOD have previous form which suggests Paul Nicholls charge might have a slight edge. That said, if I had to pick a Nicholls runner it would be the other one, with the 7lb claimer on board, DIEGO DE CHARMIL.
2:45 NEWBURY Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes (Gp3) (Colts & Geldings) Cl1 (3yo) 7f ITV 12run
Horris Hill winner MUJBAR looks e/w value, but I would be betting sooner rather than later as he will go off nearer 6s than 10s. The market is suggesting he won’t mind the ground. NANDO PARRADO was a shock winner at Royal Ascot, when winning the Coventry Stakes at 150/1 last year. Judging by his 2l 2nd to Campanelle in the Prix Morny (RHYTHM MASTER was 3rd and Tactical who won at Newmarket on Wednesday was back in 5th). He’ll be seen at his best in this ground.
NANDO PARRADO Win – MUJBAR e/w
3:00 AYR Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices’ Chase (G2) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m4½f ITV 4run
3:20 NEWBURY MansionBet Spring Cup Hcap Cl2 (4yo+) 1m ITV 18run
Richard Hannon runs NUGGETT for Highclere, whose seasonal debut was a perfectly decent tune-up, and might have been better with a clearer passage. Henry Ponsonby rather fancies his HMS PRESIDENT and DANYAH was fancied for The Lincoln but got in a jam before finding a passage and coming 4th. HISTORY WRITER was considered Group material, but wasn’t! He too appeared in The Lincoln and had trouble in running – and the same was true of REVICH.
DANYAH Win – HMS PRESIDENT e/w – REVICH e/w
3:35 AYR Coral Scottish Grand National Hcap Chase (G3) Cl1 (5yo+) 4m ITV 23run
The last National of the season, and I am only backing two in this, such has been my National pain this year. I shall have MIGHTY THUNDER, who meets the trends and perhaps significantly has Tom Scudamore effectively riding for his dad Peter. The other I fancy who I think might be off the radar is COUP DE PINCEAU. He stayed on strongly LTO at Taunton over 3½m on Soft, but his three previous wins have all been on good ground. He’s got a great little claimer in the plate and his 7lbs looks a valuable asset.
MIGHTY THUNDER e/w – COUP DE PINCEAU e/w