Saturday, July 25, 2009

PIMM'S & ASCOT revisited

Before dinner tonight with my good friend Adam Kozlowski on the third anniversary of our friendship, I had a Pimm's at Cortez one of our favorite restaurants. Tasting the Pimm's reminded me of horse races. Below is a reposting of one of my first from last September.


Early last May 2008, I flew to Philadelphia for my second Point to Point steeplechase in Wilmington, Delaware at Winterthur, one of the DuPont estates with  a wonderful American furniture collection. This was only my fifth horse race. All have been specialty races.

The first two were at Ascot in 1987 and ’88. They weren’t Royal Ascot, but instead the Diamond Stakes sponsored by DeBeers in honor of King George VI. Because of that, Dennis figured the Royal Family would attend—and he was right. We paid extra to be in the Reserved section next to the Royal Enclosure. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Charles and Diana and the Queen Mum were sitting only a few hundred feet from our seats. Anne, the Princess Royal, rode and won one of the races. I shouldn’t have been surprised—but as the English drive cars in the opposite direction— they run horse races clockwise, rather than counter clockwise as we do. When Anne won, we followed the crowd to the paddock to watch the Queen award the prize to her daughter. Elizabeth II was wearing a handsome yellow silk outfit with matching hat. Dennis remarked how the Queen was perfectly at ease and adjusted her belt just like anybody else. Why not? We had the mandatory Pimm’s cup and spent a glorious afternoon at Ascot.

The next summer we returned for the same race. We walked by the Queen Mum’s stately Daimler with its sterling silver Lion hood ornament. Because of our experience the previous summer, I knew to go to the paddock to watch the Queen award the prize after a race. In my attempt to stride ahead to get to the paddock to watch the Queen I nearly had a very close encounter with her Britannic Majesty. All of a sudden two-well dressed men grabbed me & pulled me aside. They must have seen that I was looking several hundred feet ahead to the paddock, and that I didn’t notice that the Queen and her Lady-in-Waiting were roughly four feet in front of me. Elizabeth II is rather short and I was stretching my neck to look over her head. This was before 9/11 and I wasn’t even interrogated. No doubt today I’d be taken away.

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