I didn’t organise tickets to the Cheltenham festival, less well known than Royal Ascot outside the UK, but nonetheless a huge week in British horse racing. I must regain the enthusiasm I had when I first moved to London. With a little help from corporate friends and some patient queuing I managed a stellar sporting calendar in the early years —Henley Regatta, Royal Ascot, and Wimbledon. Thus far I’ve only made it to the Cheltenham racecourse for the Sunday car boot sale, a worthy but entirely different sort of sporting event.
I think I am sapped from my thankless job, but the truth is lots of tasks requiring organization—paying bills, booking travel, doing laundry— have gone out the window since buying Drovers. It took three past due letters from British Gas to motivate me. Chores used to happen on weekends, but now the pressure’s on to be “enjoying ourselves” come the weekend, especially if the weather is nice. That false pressure to have a good time that used to be the reserve of real vacations has, with the purchase of a second home, become a weekly event. Woe is me.
And so I watched the biggest race of the festival, The Gold Cup, on television. This was a much publicized battle between elegance in the form of the sleek Kauto Star, and brute force embodied in the gigantic Denman. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I immediately sided with Denman. As interesting as the race itself was the spectacle of the attendees. The place was swimming in gloriously vulgar hats that are as synonymous with English weddings and horse races as Hermes scarves are with French mademoiselles. I still treasure my own hot pink pimp hat purchased for Ascot. It may not be as versatile as a Hermes scarf but the opportunities in life to wear vision obstructing, fuchsia coloured feathers on your head are rare and must be taken.
Denman crushed Kauto Star, a victory for brashness of every kind, including big hats.