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25th April 2024 4:51 am

“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Valentine’s Day and Ascot’s Common Dress Sense

These Donors Are AMAZING Thank You

William S – MEJi – Peter N – Nigel B – Ken C – Mark S – James D – William M – Fiona M – Julian A – Jonathan H – Mrs V.M – Pete BN – Gavin C – Thom S – Sarah C – Mark S – Sam H – James R

This relentless outpouring of love and affection is doing my head in!

My world is divided into 300 days of relative calm, sunny uplands where the green shoots etc etc… It is often a time of relative prosperity, if not in fact, then certainly in the impressions surrounding one. A day at Ascot, a trip to Henley, a picnic at the opera, everything is rosy, as the sharp little Emcee in Cabaret suggested; “ We have no troubles here! Here life is beautiful…”
However, it is Siberia in winter for the other 65 days of the year. It is the stuff of Mordor, Krakens, apocalyptic horsemen, ghosts rattling chains and demons demanding Faustian settlements of hitherto unknown bills.
Yes – it is the time of The Hon.
From December 12th until February 15th, she is like those gallant girls in the Battle of Britain plotting rooms of the nation’s fighter groups  – moving pieces into play, warning pilots who will never make it that danger lies ahead, always transmitting the latest intel.
Hello, flight Leader Charlie Kilo One this is Hotel Oscar November. There are shops open at your 6 o’clock selling fingerless gloves. Roger, the poor brave pilot says. Hello, Charlie Kilo 1 there’s a jewellery shop three miles ahead, and it’s still open. Watch out for Credit checks on your port side. This is her time. Christmas looms, arrives, and then goes, leaving chaos everywhere, to be almost immediately replaced by the Wedding Anniversary.
This year was Coral – I thought seriously about giving her one of the company’s esteemed betting slips. Still, I swerved the inevitable Stockhome syndrome that would have ensued and did bare-root Roses instead. But moments later, one is back in the air, planning the birthday in the first week of February.
I want nothing, she says, adroitly leaving out the word “for” – I hate birthdays. They’re always so miserable… unless, of course… the sentence is left floating, and one has to guess quickly or suffer the look for a week. Drinks? Oh, you are clever, what a brilliant idea… Perhaps a few people for drinks and nibbles – but don’t tell them – no one must know... Unless they read Facebook, Instagram, Shoppers Weekly, The Radio Times and once upon a time, The Racing Post. But we have such a tiny house; perhaps we should have some chums over for… more drinks? Stupid boy, she says under her breath. No, I meant lunch perhaps, you know, a few locals, chums who won’t mind squeezing up so we can have a baker’s dozen plus
Then there’s Valentine’s Day. Cards, surprises, the Betty Boothroyd vase with the Portcullis crest – The Hon’s family used to own Parliament, apparently, back when they could raise sufficient taxes for a night out on Valentine’s Day. Keep bashing on; it’s almost the end of the day of the locusts, and just over the horizon, one can see the dawn of the rest of the year. Meanwhile, one is just one of the few. Upside down nothing on the clock, then they came out of the sun, and poor old Buffy never saw them. Cripes, will it be time to land soon? I’m not sure I’ve much left in the tank… not even enough to light a ciggy.
There’ll be bluebirds over ….

Royal Ascot – what is the point?

One or two of you might have thought the faintest whiff of common sense was in the air. The Duke of Sad, having been summoned to be reassured he would not be needed for Regency duty, immediately went back home, started his new website up and discharged both barrels of his underutilised Purdy’s into his feet. Back home, the socialists were doing the same and trying to work out how to actually claim, “When I say Israel – I don’t mean Jews.” Even four different MPs suggested that their fellow travellers would be wise not to inflict a draconian gambling bill on one of the few parts of the country’s economy that is [a] at work and [b] profitable – even if it is gambling. Common Sense, indeed.

So what does Ascot do? They fulfilled every one of my fears over the past ten years in one crescendo of meaningless naff by appointing someone called Danial Fletcher to the newly created post of Director of pointless – which has a small p, because that is fashionable. Daniel Fletcher is a fashion designer who has spent 90% of his professional life doing ranges for people who identify as being men – albeit that he has described gender-specific clothing as a “funny idea.” I am curious – as opposed to looking forward to – seeing all the brilliant changes that won’t be introduced to The Royal Enclosure dress code, which makes the money invested in him pointless. QED.

Protem Ascot will milk this like billyho, because Fletcher is allegedly adored by someone called Styles who was, until recently, a creative director at Fiorucci. Sorry, Fletcher was at Fiorwhatsit, not Styles. Styles is a singer whose name turns out to be a misnomer, but who is a multi-zillionaire because he sells songs to young girls, and he got shot at in the film Dunkirk, but the Boche missed.

For further clarification, Fiorucci doesn’t make chocolates with hazelnuts but makes surprisingly ordinary-looking clothes. If Fiorucci has a style, it would be Beaujolais Nouveau as opposed to Fleurie, and having seen Mr Fletcher’s personal dress sense, I might suggest that the Ascot style book is going to be about as enjoyable as a case of Portugese Cava on a Costa Fortuna Cruise Liner in the Bay of Biscay on a November voyage, under the Captaincy of a small seasick child.

This is the press statement: “Self-expression and the joy of dressing up for a day at the races has always been at the heart of Ascot. 2024 marks an incredibly exciting chapter for us, and we are thrilled to appoint Daniel Fletcher as creative director. Royal Ascot style transcends simply dressing for the races, and Daniel brings a fresh, authentic aesthetic, which perfectly mirrors our passion for individuality and personal style.  Collaborating closely with Daniel, we’ll be catering to the diverse Ascot audiences with their incredible array of styles and varied shopping habits, from pre-loved to couture. He has a deep understanding of the Ascot brand, and we cannot wait to work closely to create hero moments in the run-up to Royal Ascot and beyond.

I’ve read it three times, and I still think it’s the same words as last year’s exciting announcements – just in a different order – and with the addition of “Hero Moments”.

Still, any jockey who gets nobbled by the Stewards can simply say they are excused because they were trying to perfectly mirror Ascot’s “…passion for individuality and personal style.

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